Jenn’s Corner #6: Online Mahjong

Ok, Ok, so my column is one day late. BUT! I have a great excuse! I was busy playing mahjong!! Not good enough? I’m sorry… The truth is, I took off to Okinawa for the weekend. I’m back now and went to our Monday night Mahjong group as usual, yesterday I really did play Mahjong. IN OKINAWA? you ask, why yes, I played from the comfort of my resort hotel room. Not only that, I played with Garthe in Tokyo, Gem in Taipei, and dbos in Toronto. We were also joined by Doug in Yamagata and Walter in Montreal!

Yes! It’s true! In the age of the internet, anything is possible, even playing Mahjong online with friends all over the world! So let me introduce you to the wonderful world of Internet Mahjong!

While there is tons of software out there that lets you play with others, a quick internet search will initially offer you Mahjong Solitaire (also commonly known as Taipei or Shanghai). That’s ok if you aren’t used to the tiles yet, but why play by yourself when there are a world of opponents out there?? Dig a little deeper and you’ll find games like Mahjong Time, Four Winds, and Mahjong Club. The problem with these, which you will find after playing for a few minutes, is the lack of functions, people and speed. That is not true of all English internet Mahjong games, but the fact is that Mahjong is still finding it’s place outside of Asia and things are moving slowly. The other option, is powering through an online game in an Asian language. That can be scary, but when there are good friends like us to play with, a little risk might be worth it.

To find the right Online Mahjong game for you, you need to decide what your priorities are. Do you want to bet money? First make sure it is legal where you live. Do you want to play with Reach Mahjong rules or with Chinese Official rules or with Hong Kong rules or with… the possibilities go on and on. Is it important that you can speak the common language of the software, or is it enough if you know what each button does? Do you want to play with people of your same skill level, or do you just want to meet other Mahjong players? Do you want events or just quick games?

Ron2So now let’s talk about what we were doing on Sunday (morning for us, Saturday night for the Canadians). Garthe and I were coincidentally playing Ron2 (see our review) when we saw “dbos” watching Garthe play. It didn’t take us long to set up our own table and soon Gem was online too! After that Garthe invited a friend and later Walter just happened to waltz in. Ron2 is definitely a happening place, and it’s not even translated into English yet! Since Ron2 allows you to put password locks on tables that you make yourself, we were able to play to our hearts content without having to switch seats out with strangers (it’s easy to play with strangers on Ron2 too). On full memberships game records are saved and had we desired, we would be able to set up a chat room to discuss the moves made in each game.

This is the system that Garthe and I play on regularly and will continue playing on it. The best part is that we are working on an English translation of the software! It is coming along quite nicely and should be ready for non-Japanese-speaking players sometime soon. Once it is up and running, it will definitely be the only Online Mahjong game we will be able to recommend to you. While there is no gambling option, there is absolutely no better place to improve your skills.

While our link for the registration process doesn’t work yet, if you are able to somehow sign yourself up for a free membership, I definitely hope that you would. If enough reader’s get on Ron2, we can have some practice and discussion sessions hosted by… You got it!! Garthe and Jenn. I’m sure Gem would show up from time to time too (or maybe everytime!). In the meantime, wait for the translation and maybe you could practice on Mahjong Club or somewhere… Or, get your tiles out yourself! We can’t wait to see you there!

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