There are many kinds of “draw and discard” games, including Rummy and Poker. There are also many variants on these games, and one of the most popular of all time is the Mahjong game. This is a bit different from many others because it uses tiles instead of playing cards, and because the goal of the standard Mahjong game is to build a specific hand instead of feverishly working to eliminate all of the cards dealt to the player.
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To begin any Mahjong game requires four players and a special set of tiles. There can be anywhere from 136 to 152 tiles depending upon the variant of Mahjong being played. Each player receives thirteen tiles and will then take their “turns” as they try to build a “legal” hand of fourteen tiles containing four groups and a pair. Along the way, the players can draw, steal tiles from other players, and use special tiles to help them be the one to win the game.
Wait a minute, you might say, this is nothing like the game of Mahjong that I play on my computer! That is because many people who experience Mahjong of this kind are actually playing a form of Solitaire. Instead, the real game requires an entirely different set of rules and objectives.
The modern sets of Mahjong tiles will be divided into a range of categories that usually include dots, bams, craks, winds, and dragons. There are also flowers and wild tiles too. These are used to create Pungs and Chows, or special groups of tiles. The Pungs are three matching tiles and the Chows are three tiles in a sequence or run. To understand the sequences often requires the player to study the tiles and learn the specific rules, but these are not at all complicated.
Today Mahjong is played in “real life” settings and in online gaming rooms, and is extremely popular.