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Question: Why don’t all mah jongg groups play the same way? I was invited into a new game and they implemented rules I’d never heard about.
Answer: Although Mah jongg has a formal set of rules, it is not uncommon to find that some players have adopted their own house rules and/or have decided to play a more informal game. Below is a guide to the types of variations you might find among mah jongg groups:
- Legacy – play by NMJL rules using rules that have been revoked (i.e., picking ahead (14 tiles version), playing with futures)
- Casual – play by NMJL rules using leniency (i.e. forgiving mistakes)
- Formal – play by NMJL rules (i.e., no house rules or legacy rules)
- Formal Hybrid – play by NMJL rules along with with house rules to encourage defensive play (i.e. hot wall, cold wall), higher hand values (i.e., rolling doubles=double value), or add interesting versions (i.e., Atomic); may also include legacy rules
- Competition – play by tournament rules