Mahjong is a Chinese-tile game that is popular in Asia, specifically China, of course. Due to its popularity, Mahjong spread throughout the Far East, being dominant in South Korea and Japan. Usually, it’s played with four players, but a three-player variation was created in affected countries. It didn’t take long until the tile-game reached the westerners. Learning Mahjong might be a bit easier for them since it resembles the western card game rummy. The tile-game basically requires intense concentration, logic, strategy, and sometimes a bit of luck to win the game. Apart from being a regular leisure time, it also became a serious game for gamblers.
Just like every other card game like blackjack or poker, Mahjong can be a serious and competitive game due to the involvement of money. Others, however, use the game as a way or process to train the brain where it can also be a treatment for Dementia. According to researchers in Hong Kong, attention to the game and skills needed like memory, calculation, and planning lets people with dementia gain cognitive measures. It was proven to be effective when the effects can still be observed even after one month of no playing. But if you’re the type to enjoy the leisure of playing the game, you need to buy a Mahjong set first before learning the basics.
Competitive Mahjong players are keen to design, structure, and materials when looking for a Mahjong set, but if you’re the type of player who just wants to enjoy the game, you won’t need to worry about the smallest detail. As long as the tiles are complete and the other parts as well, you’ll be enjoying the game whenever you have free time. Especially if you have friends who know how to play the game, dust and dirt won’t have time the time to stick to your Mahjong set.
CHH American Mah Jongg
Being popular in the west, American mahjong set were manufactured differently for Americans. Due to demand, numerous manufacturers outed their own style and design of the tile-based game. One of it is the CHH American Mah Jongg. It has 166 new tiles to play with and includes 4 color pushers – making it suited for a family or personal use. After using, the tiles and racks can be stored easily inside its included soft bag case. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, this mahjong set will let you enjoy every moment of the game.
Kai Tai Inc. American Mahjong Set
Getting a mahjong set is not that hard if you’re just going to play the game. But sometimes, you feel like you need to brag about your set that makes you look like a high-roller, of some sort. Introducing the Kai Tai Inc. American Mahjong Set – complete with 166 non-glare tiles, 4 rainbow-color pushers, all in one aluminum hard case. The case is basically the deciding point when opting for this set. It will protect it from anything – spills, leaks, bumps, any other external factors. If you’re creative enough, you can even use the aluminum case for your personal use such as for work or storage.
John N. Hansen Deluxe Mah Jong
If the aluminum case can’t sway you into buying the recently introduced product, then maybe this John N. Hansen Deluxe Mah Jong will. Very obviously stated in its name, the deluxe part comprises of the 168 non-fading tiles, 4 translucent pushovers, a dice, with an aluminum case as well. Instructions on how to play the game are also inside the packaging.
KT American Mahjong Set
The KT American Mahjong Set looks to be the ordinary set that you can be bought from a store. It comes complete with 166 tiles along with 4 racks, dices, among others. However, the case is what sets itself apart from the pack. Stitched on leather, the case is covered in a brown world map – dating from when the game mahjong emerged.
Yellow Mountain Imports Professional Chinese Mahjong Game Set
Of course, the list of best mahjong set won’t be complete without its origin. Presenting, the Yellow Mountain Imports Professional Chinese Mahjong Game Set. Just like what the name states, this set is not for JUST players but rather for professionals looking for a competitive game. The tiles are slightly larger from the generic set and it’s more durable comparing. It’s scratch-resistant and the images or graphics are engraved. Since it’s a Chinese set, characters are in its native language. An instruction, however, teaches non-Chinese people to learn the game accordingly.
The case is not the typical western case. It’s outside is covered in some kind of plastic to serve as protection for liquid spills, and the overall layout has an apparent square-ish layout with two magnetic locks for easy keeping.
What to Look For
Looking for a mahjong set is not easily given that you’re a regular player. For non-professional, a mahjong set usually costs lower for them due to the materials used to manufacture each tile, pushovers, dices, and others. It’s not of that ivory or bone but it’s pretty well-made that can last for years without worrying for fading. Basically, it’s the materials used for manufacturing this kind of products that makes it expensive. It can be either of bone, ivory, or plastic. But just as mentioned, it won’t matter too much for regular players. For professionals, it’s a different story.
It’s important for them to appraise the value and quality of each piece to ensure the ‘spirit’ of a Mahjong set. Since the game originated from China, for them, it’s not just a simple game but it also involves some kind of mental and spiritual contact in every piece that will allow them to attain better concentration, as well as luck, in order for them to win the game. As religious as it sounds, it’s definition stands true during ancient times.
Still, whether you’re in the game for fun or competitiveness, a mahjong set still has some identifiable characteristics that will suit to your liking or your experience. Either American or Chinese set, both different in materials used for the pieces as well as the storage case.
- Material – bone, ivory, plastic: three of the most common materials used in creating a set of tiles. Plastic is the cheapest but its major drawback is the life expectancy of the drawn symbols, it can be erased after several uses. Another thing is its glare, it provides difficulty in recognizing symbols especially for the visually impaired player. Bone and Ivory are considered to be premium materials in mahjong. It offers better durability as the symbols are engraved rather than painted. Additionally, the colors won’t easily fade out if taken care of properly. These reasons make a mahjong set expensive. While some may look at it that way, others consider it to be for the purpose of boasting.
- Case – cases won’t be much of a deciding factor when buying a mahjong set. It provides the same purpose when you need it – storage. However, cases are manufactured differently, much like the tiles. Aluminum hard cases seem to be the mainstream market. Despite its good quality, fabric-based cases prove to be more valuable for a professional player as the cloth inside further protects each piece from whatever cause it may be. But for regular players, as long it serves its purpose, it’s a non-issue.
- Chinese or American – if you don’t know how to read Chinese, then you’re better off buying the American version – as simple as that. Don’t even dwell buying the Chinese variant unless you have a solid reason for buying it. Some include a written instruction for you to learn each symbol but this will just hinder your time when playing unless, again, you’re willing to master the art of mahjong in different languages.
By demand, Mahjong has increased its popularity not only in Asia but also in America. Started as a play-for-fun game, it became a competitive type of game for gamblers. Aside from that, it’s also used for improving cognitive skills and can improve one’s dementia treatment by letting your brain work.
As its scope widens, different mahjong sets were created as the usual 144 number of tiles are increased by Westerners. Differences solely fall under the materials used in creating them. The traditional way of mahjong involves the use of ivory and bone, however, plastics such as nylon has been introduced and became more of a standard. A mahjong set is not only of Chinese and American based, South Korea and Japan also has its own version where the usual game of four can be played with only three players. Despite though its differences in some in-game aspects, the rules, and the game itself do not veer away from each other. You still get to enjoy the same mahjong game.
Keeping that in mind, the best mahjong set listed above excels in every category and can provide a great playing experience whether you’re a Chinese or American. And of course, it’s best played with friends, peers, or family. Just make sure no bets are included.