I tried my hand at the American version of mahjong. The main differences are: the joker tiles, the charleston, and the mahjong card. The joker is kind of like a wild tile – it can stand for anything, except you can’t use it to complete a pair. The charleston is where you have to swap tiles with the other players to mix it up a bit. And the mahjong card is there to
make it impossible to win let you know what hands count as ‘winning hands’.
Honestly. We played one round and no one won. One of us also messed up a winning hand, which is an automatic loss. I had four jokers at one point and couldn’t win. Even though we weren’t gambling or betting anything, it was still really frustrating to have to pick one winning hand to do and realising halfway through the game that there’s no possible way to win anymore, not even if you tried to change your entire hand.
But this was a new experience nonetheless, and I find it fascinating how the Americans decided to take a pretty complex game and made it even more complicated. I’ve learned my lesson: I’m going to stick to Chinese/Hong Kong mahjong from now on. At least there’s more winning and losing involved in that version.