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I'm developing a new ruleset of mahjong. It's supposed to be a hybrid of Japanese rule and Chinese rule. I'm also considering including the joker tile, also known as baida (百塔). Here is the sketch of how it works:

  • There are 8 joker tiles in total.

  • Upon calling Mahjong (和了):

    1. if you have 2 joker tiles, they are considered as an arbitrary Pair (対子).

    2. if you have 3 joker tiles, they are considered as an arbitrary Chow/Pong (順子) / (刻子).

    3. if you declared a concealed Kong with joker tiles, they are considered as an arbitrary Kong (槓子).

  • It is possible to declare Pon, Kan, or Ron to a joker tile.

  • It is not possible to declare Chi to a joker tile.

  • A Dora tile declares itself as a Dora. This also applies to a joker tile. But if the tile is a flower tile, it doesn't declare a Dora.

But I'm unsure how this will change the game strategy. How will the game strategy change, and why didn't Japanese rule and Chinese rule use joker tiles at the first place?

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  • I've not played Mah Jong for years so can't answer question but my advice would just be play test and see. From my own designs you will often find when playing with people things will happen you hadn't considered, then test changes with as many different people as possible and see what happens. – StartPlayer Dec 8 '20 at 12:20
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I don t see that this would significantly change strategy or play. I concur that playtesting would be a good idea.

My understanding is that the "joker" was never a part of the traditional game, and was added when the "American" rules were defined. I learned to play with slightly modified Chinese rules, and the jokers were never used. But if you are defining a new rules set, you can use them however you wish, of course.

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