I’ve played an awful lot of Mahjong games since 1995. I got my start with the Suchie-Pai series, which were a great place to start because they really hold your hand when you’re a novice player and tell you what kind of moves you can make and such.
Also, they include panel matching games that let you beat your opponents even if you’re not very good at mahjong.
Oh, and they have pretty girls with character designs by Kenichi Sonoda, which doesn’t hurt either. Mind you, that’s a heavily generational thing; he designed the characters for some of my favorite OVAs, like Gall Force, Bubblegum Crisis, Otaku no Video… which are all at least 20 years old, now that I’m thinking about it. Wow.
I feel old.
Anyway, back to mahjong.
One of the things that’s annoyed me greatly over the years is that, while I’ve understood the basics of how to win a hand of mahjong, there have been plenty of times when I would be holding a hand that I thought SHOULD be a winning hand, only to have the computer tell me that I couldn’t use it.
Eventually I hit upon a strategy – never use an opponent’s discard for ANYTHING except going out – that cut those down to a minimum, but I was still hitting the occasional why-can’t-I-win-here moment.
Then I found this site, completely by accident: Osamuko’s Japanese Mahjong Blog.
And now… now I understand a lot more. I mean, that’s not to say I can actually understand 80% of the posts on the blog, they’re full of a hell of a lot of jargon that I just can’t follow, but I now have an understanding of why I wasn’t able to win with certain hands in the past and what I can do now to avoid that.
To test this theory, I booted up my Saturn version of Super Real Mahjong PVI, a game in a series that’s a completely different level of play than the Suchie-Pai games. I mean, it’s still pretty low difficulty level mahjong compared to facing off with a human opponent, but it’s a step up.
Four hours later…
I feel pretty good about things now.
Also, I get to cross another title off my backlog. Only 220 games to go!