About Mahjong Friends Online
Mahjong Friends Online lets you play any style of Mahjong with your friends. Up to 4 people can play, using a voice chat app to talk to each other during the game. It's a fun way to play the game in real time when you can't be in the same room. We hope you agree.
The principle behind Mahjong Friends Online is simple: you control how to play. This game does not enforce the rules because there are so many variants of Mahjong that have different rules, different tiles, and different scoring. Instead Mahjong Friends Online provides a natural and flexible playing environment that runs on different types of devices. It's essentially an online table with tiles and dice that you can play with however you like. Automation is used only to make certain things less tedious - like building the wall and dealing. The players do the rest, just like in the real game.
Starting a Game
Here's how to get started with Mahjong Friends Online:
- For the best experience, we recommend that all players start up a voice chat app, such as Zoom or Skype, so they can talk to each other during the game. You can, however, play without voice chat using the built-in Call Buttons and Text Chat.
- All players start up the Mahjong Friends Online app on their devices.
- Players enter their names on the Start screen as they want them to be shown to the other players.
- One player starts a game by clicking on Create New Game. That player tells the others what game code has been provided by the system. (If you want to change the game settings before the game starts, see Settings.)
- The other players enter the game code to connect to the game.
- When all players are connected, their names appear in the waiting room, and the starting player clicks Start Game.
- If you want to change positions at this point, see Players' Names and Seats. Keep in mind that the location of the dice tells the system who the dealer (East) is.
- You are now ready to play the game. Follow the rules of your style of Mahjong to start your first hand.
The Game Menu
New Wall is used to build a new wall at the start of each hand. The system shuffles the tiles before building the wall.
Deal Tiles deals out the tiles to the players.
- The dealer (the player who has the dice) gets 14 tiles; other players get 13 tiles. (In a 16-tile game, the dealer gets 17 tiles and the others get 16 tiles, see Settings.)
- Mahjong Friends Online will start dealing from the place you have indicated by breaking the wall (see Opening and Setting Up the Wall) or you can let the system start dealing from a random place.
- When the hands are dealt, they are sorted with any bonus tiles on the left, the 3 suits in the middle in a random order, and any honour tiles (winds or dragons, for example) on the right.
Help displays the Help screen, which is also available through the question mark (?) button on the Start screen.
Settings displays the Settings screen, where you can change the game settings and user preferences. See Settings for the details.
Restore restores the last game that was played on that specific device.
- To continue an unfinished game with the same players, now or at a later time:
- All players leave the unfinished game using Exit.
- All players log in as normal and start a new game, but DO NOT deal the tiles.
- Click Restore to restore the last game played on that device. Note that the player who restores the game cannot have played any other Mahjong Friends Online game in the meantime. The game can only be restored to a device that has not been used to play another Mahjong Friends Online game because the system records only the last game played.
- To use Restore to recover the game if a player gets disconnected, which can happen when the network connection is unstable or when switching between apps on an iPhone/iPad:
- In most cases, the player will be reconnected automatically. If automatic reconnection fails, however, the game can still be recovered manually.
- For the manual recovery, all players leave the interrupted game using Exit.
- All players log back in as normal and start a new game, but DO NOT deal the tiles.
- One player clicks Restore to recover the game.
- To recover if a player clicks New Wall or Deal Tiles by mistake:
- One player clicks Restore right away. This can be the same player who made the mistake or another player.
Exit disconnects a player from the game and returns the player to the Start screen.
The Hand Menu
Sort puts the tiles in your hand in order by suit and number. Note that the order in which the suits are arranged varies to prevent other players from knowing how your tiles are organized.
Reveal shows the tiles in your hand to other players.
- Use Reveal to show your hand (when you get Mahjong, for example).
- When your hand is revealed, Stand Up gets added to the menu. You can click it to hide your tiles from the other players again (if the win was a mistake, for example).
- If the Rotated Tiles setting is on (see Settings), tiles taken from the discards area into your revealed hand will turn sideways. This can be used to identify the winning tile.
- When your hand is revealed, you are allowed to move and flip tiles anywhere in the discards area. You can use this for scoring your hand with tiles as counters.
Flip Down lays all the tiles in your concealed hand face down.
- Use Flip Down when you declare a win in SBR Mahjong.
- When your hand is turned down, Stand Up gets added to the menu. You can click it to flip all the tiles back up so you can see them again.
- If the Rotated Tiles setting is on (see Settings), tiles taken from the discards area into your face down hand will turn sideways and remain face up. This can be used to identify the player who discarded the winning tile.
- You could also use Flip Down if there are other people in the room and you want to hide your hand. (Obviously, you don't need to use this if you are playing remotely from all other players because they can't see your hand anyway. You knew that, right?)
Moving the Tiles
Mahjong Friends Online lets you move tiles in much the same way you would in a regular Mahjong game. It's easy! Hold your cursor or finger down to drag a tile between the wall, your hand, your melds area, or any of the discards areas. This method of moving something on the screen is called "drag and drop". You also drag and drop tiles to rearrange them in your hand or in your melds area. Feel free to move tiles in your hand to wherever it makes sense to you. If you don't like the way your hand is sorted, change it!
Obviously, this isn't a real set of tiles, so some things are different (mostly easier, we think). For example, if you want to deal out the tiles manually, you can - go right ahead - but you can also use the Deal Tiles button in The Game Menu to do it automatically.
Another advantage is that you can't take the wrong tile from the wall or knock the wall over reaching for something else. (Or is that just me?) Sometimes players may drop a tile in the wrong place - on the wall, in the discards area, or in their own hand. If this happens, the tile can simply be moved back to where it should be. If a tile is drawn by mistake, you can put a tile back into the front end or back end of the wall where it belongs.
To move a tile, hold your cursor down - or finger on a touch screen - to drag the tile and drop it where you want it.
When you draw a tile from the wall, it remains face down at first; as you draw it towards you, it increases in size and reveals its face to you. For the other players, it still appears face down. However, they will see it increasing in size as an indication that you can already see the tile's face.
Placing Tiles in Your Hand
Your hand is the row of tiles directly in front of you that only you can see.
- When you draw a tile from the wall, you do not necessarily have to place it into your hand. You can discard it right away if you don't want it, or you can place it directly into your melds area (for a bonus tile, a kong or a self-drawn win).
- You may rearrange the tiles in your hand any way you like by dragging and dropping them.
- If you want the system to sort them again, use Sort in The Hand Menu. They will be sorted with bonus tiles on the left, followed by the 3 suits in a random order, and honour tiles on the right.
- If the Rotated Tiles setting is on (see Settings), a tile taken from a discards area into your hand will turn sideways and remain face up. This reminds you that the tile does not belong in your hand and it is on its way to your melds area. But if you don't agree, you can click on it and it will stand up normally.
Placing Tiles in the Melds Area
The melds area - the place where you put your bonus tiles and exposed sets - is between your row of concealed tiles and the wall, starting on the left and expanding out to the right. The melds areas are marked with the word Melds written on the surface of the table.
- To move a tile from your hand to your melds area quickly and easily, pull a tile in your hand towards yourself and release it when it tilts forward. It will be placed in your melds area automatically.
- When you drag a tile over to your melds area, a thin border around the melds area lights up to indicate where the tile is going to go if released.
- You can rearrange the tiles in your own melds area.
- You can take tiles out of your own melds area back into your hand or place them in the discards area. Do this to fix mistakes or pass a joker to another player.
- You cannot move tiles in or take from any other player's melds area.
- If the Rotated Tiles setting is on (see Settings), a tile taken from a discards area into your melds area will turn sideways.
Placing Tiles in the Discards Area
The discards area is in the middle of the table, inside the wall just as it would be in a regular game. The discards areas are marked with the word Discards written on the surface of the table.
- When you drag a tile over any of the discards areas, a thin border around the corresponding discards area lights up to indicate where the tile is going to go if released.
- If your style of Mahjong is played with ordered discards, drop the tiles anywhere in your discards area, and the system will line them up neatly in rows. The number of the tiles in each row will be determined according to Discard Rows by 6 setting (see Settings).
- If your style of Mahjong is played with random discards, drop the tiles randomly in any of the 4 discards areas. They will still get lined up to save space.
- If the Rotated Tiles setting is on (see Settings), a tile dragged over the centre of the table will go into your discards area turned sideways. Use this to declare riichi in Riichi Mahjong. In this case, when you move a tile directly over the centre of the table, the thin border around your discard area will flicker.
Opening and Setting Up the Wall
You can either determine where to break the wall in whatever way you normally do or let the system pick a random place to start dealing.
- If you want the system to break the wall and deal the tiles, simply click on Deal Tiles in The Game Menu.
- If you want to control where the wall is broken:
- Click a tile on the wall to shift the appropriate 2-tile stack aside to indicate the wall opening to other players or to the system. After that, either you or another player can click Deal Tiles, and the tiles will be dealt beginning with the stack you have shifted.
- In case of a mistake, click elsewhere on the wall to shift the 2-tile stack back into the wall, then open the wall in the correct place.
You can separate the dead wall (kong box) from the rest of the wall and/or place loose tiles on it, according to how it is done in your style of Mahjong.
- You can drag part of the wall (at least 6 stacks but no more than 9 stacks from the end of the wall) to make a little gap between it and the rest of the wall tiles.
- Loose tiles can be placed anywhere upon the wall near the wall's back end or to the right of the location where the wall was opened (no farther than 9 stacks away). You can place them one upon another if you wish.
To reveal a dora indicator, window joker or Baida tile:
- Choose the correct location near the back of the wall (no more than 9 stacks away from the back end) and click on it. This can only be done after the wall is opened but before any player's hand is revealed.
- A 2-tile stack will shift aside.
- Check that the location is correct and click on the same 2-tile stack again. It will shift back and reveal its top tile.
- If the location is wrong, click elsewhere near the back end of the wall to shift the 2-tile stack back, then click on the correct location.
- When at least one player's hand is revealed, click on the dora indicator to reveal the corresponding uradora indicator.
To make it easier to click on the correct tile in the wall, you can use the Zooming In feature.
Flipping the Tiles
Clicking on a tile will flip it face down. Clicking on it again will turn it face up.
- You cannot flip the tiles in the wall.
- You can flip tiles in your melds area to mark a concealed kong.
- To make a concealed kong that is completely hidden from other players (as required in MCR and Filipino Mahjong), flip the kong tiles in your hand before moving them into your melds area.
- For Charleston, flip tiles in your hand, then move them into another player's discards area. The other player can take them into the hand or pass them to yet another player.
- To prepare the first hidden discard in SBR Mahjong, flip a tile in your hand and move it into the discards area. On your first turn, click on the tile to flip it back over.
Using the Dice
Luck is just a roll of the dice, but the key thing to remember about the dice in Mahjong Friends Online is that their location tells the system who the dealer (East) is. Any player can move the dice around the board to any other player, but the dice must be to the left of the player who is the dealer when the tiles are dealt. Whoever has the dice will be dealt one more tile than the other players, as the dealer begins the game by discarding a tile.
- Simply click on the dice to roll them.
- The player who holds the dice on the left is the dealer (East).
- Any player can drag and drop the dice to any other player.
On the Settings screen, you can change the game settings and user preferences.
- You can adjust the settings before starting the game through the cogwheel button on the Start screen.
- Alternatively, you can adjust the settings at any time during the game through Settings in The Game Menu.
Game settings affect all players. They are applied only when a new wall is built.
- Check/uncheck Dragons & Winds to use/remove the dragon and wind tiles.
- Check/uncheck Flowers & Seasons to use/remove the 8 flower and season tiles.
- Check/uncheck Animals to to use/remove the 4 animal tiles.
- Check/uncheck Jokers to use/remove the 8 jokers.
- Check/uncheck Red Fives to control whether one of the number 5 tiles in each suit gets replaced with a red 5 tile.
- Use Initial Score to set the number of points each player has at the start of the game. The default is 100 points.
- Check/uncheck 16-Tile Hands to choose between a 13-tile game (players have 13 tiles in hand and win on the 14th tile) or a 16-tile game (players have 16 tiles in hand and win on the 17th tile).
- Check/uncheck Discard Rows by 6 to control whether all the tiles in the discards area will be arranged in rows by 9 or the first two rows will be limited to 6 tiles.
- Check/uncheck Rotated Tiles to control whether tiles taken from a discards area to a player's melds area will be rotated sideways. This setting also affects tiles taken into players' hands and tiles discarded into the centre of the table. For more information about how rotated tiles are used, see The Hand Menu, Placing Tiles in Your Hand, Placing Tiles in the Melds Area, and Placing Tiles in the Discards Area.
- Check/uncheck "Nobody" Players to add or not to add imaginary "nobody" players when there are fewer than 4 real people playing the game. (See Playing with Fewer Than 4 Players for further details.)
- Use Calls to modify the default list of call buttons. You can add buttons to the list, rename them, or remove them altogether. (See Call Buttons for further details.)
User preferences affect only you. They are applied immediately.
- Check/uncheck Index Hints to control whether numbers and letters appear in the corners of your character and wind tiles.
- Check/uncheck Left Handed if you play with your left hand on a touch screen.
The Round Indicator
The round indicator is the circle in the centre of the table. It initially displays E for East. If your style of Mahjong has the notion of the prevailing wind that changes from round to round, you can use the round indicator to keep track of it.
- Click the round indicator to change the wind to E, S, W, and N as appropriate at the end of each round. If you make a mistake, click around again until it shows the correct wind.
- The round indicator can also help you keep track of the table's orientation. It is a good idea to have the dealer (East) of the first hand of the game occupy the seat where the letter E appears to be oriented right way up (with the underline at the bottom). This way, the orientation of the round indicator will always remind the players of the seat position that started the game. When the deal gets back to that seat position, it's time to advance to the next round. If you play MCR, you can think of the line under the round indicator letter as the sign on the East wall of the room.
The Wind Indicator
The wind indicator is the square in the centre of the table showing the wind designation for each seat around the Mahjong table. The winds are shown in characters around the sides of the indicator, and each side of the wind indicator uses a different colour. That colour is also used for the players' names, scores, pointers, and cursors to help players identify who is rolling the dice, moving a tile, or paying points.
The players' wind designations on the wind indicator and therefore their colour assignments are determined by the position of the dice, as the player who holds the dice is always East (see Using the Dice).
Players' Names and Seats
The edge of the table displays the players' names and scores. When you first log in, the players are positioned around the table in alphabetical order by name (unless you've restored a previous game).
If you want to change positions, you can decide which players are in which seats around the table however you like - rolling the dice, picking numbers, virtual arm wrestling or whatever - and then move the players' names into the correct positions. This is like getting up from your seat and going round the table.
- Drag your name to another player's position to exchange seats.
- Do this any number of times until all players are in the right seats.
- Moving names can only be done when the wall is unopened or when one or more players have revealed their hands.
Remember, in Mahjong Friends Online, the dealer (East) is the player holding the dice (see Using the Dice). The other players can arrange themselves around the table in any order.
When a new game is started, the initial score (as defined in Settings) will be shown next to each player's name.
Mahjong Friends Online does not score your hand for you. Scoring works just like playing with real tiles, where players reveal their hands and count their own scores.
To make a payment to another player:
- Click on your name or score to open an input box.
- Enter the number of points owed to another player, then press Enter or click outside the input box. The number of points will show next to your score.
- Drag the points over to the player you owe.
The way to reset the score before another game is to exchange points between players. This is the same way you would do it with real counting sticks.
Setting Aside Points for Bets or a Kitty
Some styles of Mahjong allow players to make bets on their hands (Riichi Mahjong, for example), and others have players contribute to a kitty or "pot" that can be claimed under certain conditions (like Jai Alai in Filipino Mahjong or the kitty in Western Mahjong). Mahjong Friends Online lets you do this.
To place points into a kitty or betting pot:
- Click on your name or score to open an input box.
- Enter the number of points you want to bet, then press Enter or click outside the input box. The number of points will show next to your score.
- Drag the points into the centre of the table.
To pay out from the kitty or betting pot:
- Drag the points that you placed in the centre of the table to pass them to another player or return them to yourself.
Using the Counter
Mahjong Friends Online provides you with a counter for keeping track of certain events. It can be used for different purposes depending on Mahjong style you are playing, such as honba counting in Riichi, winner markers for getting Jai Alai in Filipino Mahjong, or keeping track of the order of players going out in SBR.
- Click anywhere on the right of the table edge nearest to you to activate your counter. It is initially invisible, but it will appear when activated.
- The counter will start at zero.
- To increase/decrease the counter, click the up/down arrows displayed beside it while it is activated.
- The counter will stay activated for a short while after clicking on it, then it will deactivate.
- If the counter is greater than zero, it will remain displayed after deactivating.
- If the counter is zero, it will disappear after deactivating.
Using the Pointer
Players cannot normally see each others' cursors during play except when they are picking up tiles or rolling the dice. However, sometimes you do want the other players to see what you are pointing at. This is particularly useful when you are teaching someone how to play the game. For this purpose, Mahjong Friends Online provides you with your own pointer, whose colour matches your seat designation.
- Drag your pointer out of the area on the table edge to the left of your name. It is initially invisible, but it will appear as you are dragging.
- You can drop it anywhere on the table and it will stay.
- You can pick it up later and move to a different spot.
- You cannot move other players' pointers.
- To hide your pointer, drop it off the table on any side or drag it back into the corner where it came from.
- The pointer can be used to point at any object on the table. It cannot, however, be used to point at user interface components such as menus.
Call buttons are words displayed along the left and the right edges of the screen during the game. Clicking on a call button displays the corresponding word as a signal to all the players. The list of the call buttons is fully customisable in Settings. You can change the default words to whatever you like or delete them altogether.
This feature, along with Text Chat, allows you to play the game without using a voice application. It can also be used in conjunction with voice calls.
The text chat feature allows you to send messages to the other players. Together with Call Buttons, you can use text chat as an alternative means of communication if you decide not to connect on a voice application or if your voice app fails.
- To send a chat message, open the input box by dragging your cursor or finger down from in front of the opposite player's hand tiles (near the top of the screen).
- Type your message in the box.
- Send the message by clicking outside the box or pressing the Enter key. The input box will stay open so you can enter more messages.
- To close the input box, send an empty message.
- Long messages will be split into multiple lines. Up to 8 lines of text can be displayed at once. Lines will scroll off the top and disappear if more than 8 lines are entered, leaving the newest message at the bottom.
- If your own or another player's messages obstruct your view of the table, you can drag them temporarily to another part of the table. They will return into place when released.
- You can remove another player's messages from your view by dragging and dropping them off the edge of the screen. This does not affect what other players can see.
- To clear your own messages for all players, drag and drop them off the edge of the screen.
- You can edit or remove any of your own messages by clicking on it to bring it back into the input box, where it can be changed or deleted.
- You can use text chat for reporting your score to the other players.
If your message ends with an equals sign (=), the system will try to interpret the message as a numeric equation (or as a Riichi scoring expression) and calculate it. The result of the calculation will be appended after the equals sign. The system accepts spaces between numbers and symbols or not, as you prefer.
- A numeric equation can include numbers, brackets/parentheses, and arithmetic symbols for addition (+), subtraction (-), multiplication (*, x, or X), and division (/). Examples:
- Enter (2 x 4) + 4 + 8 = and the system appends 20 to the end of the equation.
- Enter ((2*4)+4+8)*2= and the system appends 40 to the end of the equation.
- A Riichi scoring expression can include a number followed by the word "han" and a number followed by the word "fu". If the number of han is 5 or more, the number of fu can be omitted. Examples:
- Enter 2 han 30 fu = and the system appends dealer ron 2900 tsumo 1000 all (assuming this was the dealer).
- Enter 6han= and the system appends haneman non-dealer ron 12000 tsumo 3000/6000 (assuming this was not the dealer).
- Alternatively, a Riichi scoring expression can be a single word naming a high scoring hand. The allowed words are mangan, haneman, baiman, sanbaiman, and yakuman. Examples:
- Enter mangan= and the system appends non-dealer ron 8000 tsumo 2000/4000 (assuming this was not the dealer).
- Enter sanbaiman = and the system appends dealer ron 36000 tsumo 12000 all (assuming this was the dealer).
If you enter equals sign (=) as a separate message, the system will collect numbers from all the rest of your messages and sum them up. The result of the calculation will be appended after the sign.
- Numbers at the ends of messages and numbers followed by one of the delimiters (.) (,) (;) will be collected.
- Any other numbers will be ignored.
Sometimes you may want to take a closer look at some part of the board. This is especially useful if you are playing on a device with a small screen. This feature can be used for selecting the exact wall location that you want to click - either for opening the wall or for revealing the top tile.
- To zoom in on a touch screen, pinch out with 2 fingers.
- To zoom in with a mouse, press and hold the right mouse button, then pull it away in any direction.
- The original view will be restored when you click anywhere or start moving a tile or the dice.
The system displays auxiliary information in the corners of the screen.
- The bottom left corner shows how many concealed tiles you have in your hand. This does not include any tiles in your melds area.
- The bottom right corner shows how many tiles remain in the wall (including the dead wall/kong box, if used).
- The top left corner shows the Mahjong Friends Online version number and the type of the platform you are using.
- The top right corner shows technical performance information.
Playing with Fewer Than 4 Players
Mahjong Friends Online allows you play a game with fewer than 4 players. You can even play alone for practice.
When the game is started with fewer than 4 players connected and the setting "Nobody" Players is off (see Settings), some of the seats remain empty. The wall is still built on all 4 sides of the table.
When the game is started with fewer than 4 players connected and the setting "Nobody" Players is on (see Settings), the empty seats are taken by imaginary players called "Nobody". The system deals out the tiles to all 4 seats, but the hand that Nobody is dealt is never played from or revealed.
You can play with Nobody by assuming that on Nobody's turn, Nobody always draws and immediately discards a tile from the wall.
- Nobody cannot draw tiles, so other players can draw tiles from the wall on behalf of Nobody and discard them in Nobody's discards area.
- Other players can also handle Nobody's points to make payments on Nobody's behalf.
- When it is Nobody's turn to be the dealer (East), the system deals only 13 tiles to Nobody instead of the usual 14. (In a 16-tile game, this would be 16 instead of 17. See Settings.) This way, it is possible to start the game with another player taking a tile from the wall on behalf of Nobody and discarding it.