If you are watching Saki: Achiga-hen, have seen the original Saki series, Akagi, Mudadzumo Naki Kaikaku, or that other mahjong anime that I forgot the name of, then you would probably know how to play Riichi (Japanese) Mahjong or have an interest in learning how.
For me, I marathoned the original Saki anime back in April in preparation for this season’s Saki: Achiga-hen. I wasn’t expecting Saki to be one of my all time favorites, let alone pulled in by the game at all, but recently, there have been times that I feel a very strong urge to see some resin tiles. I watched Saki with zero knowledge about mahjong, and came out wanting to learn how to play.
At first, I tried everyone’s best friend, Wikipedia, and I learned quite a bit about the nature of the game, as well as the scoring system and the tile combinations. It was hard to put the knowledge to practice though, as the game does have a long learning curve. I was really stupid on my first days, calling tiles (pon and chii) like no tomorrow without advancing my hand. I was completely in the dark, partially because I used this to play.
Then I got Saki Portable for the PSP. It somewhat helped me gain more experience. Though I made use of Saki’s mahjong powers most of the time, the game did make me more able to read discards and tell which tiles are dangerous (not literally). I also developed a potentially bad habit of making toitoi (no sequences) hands, though.
By May, I had enough confidence in my game to try the online mahjong. A friend introduced me to Tenhou, a large Riichi Mahjong website hosting online flash-based mahjong. I had good days, being the winner or second placer, really bad days when I go under 0 points, and very rare moments where I manage to pull off a yakuman.
Tenhou was like a drug to me. I would play mahjong at least once every day. Since the popular variation of mahjong here in the Philippines is the original Chinese mahjong, or the Filipino alternative card game, Tong-Its, I can’t find many people who are interested in the game where I lived. So I had no choice but to play online. In between school, watching anime, working, sleeping, eating, writing blog articles and TLC-ing yuri eroge, I would play Riichi mahjong on my PC, my roommate’s laptop, internet cafes or my PSP.
So yeah, I find it amazing how an anime got me so into a game that never in my life I imagined that I would be playing. I’m never one to gamble with money, so Riichi mahjong, with a point system, is really a game that I am able to enjoy.
Currently, I’m an 8th dan in Tenhou under my ID, @fkeroge. I have played with some people that I knew from the internet and real life, but I’ve only been able to touch real mahjong tiles only once. If you also know how to play and want to battle it out with a stranger like me, go to either the /a/ or /u/ Tenhou lobbies. If you see me there, I would play anyone if we have enough players.
Ah, before I forget to mention, I’ve recently got into the greatest online Riichi Mahjong client ever made, JanRyuMon. It’s about the closest thing to Saki’s levels of visual effects. If you really want to play online mahjong in style, go for JanRyuMon. Here are instructions on how to install the client, and get playing. My nick over there is afkeroge, by the way.