The card's been out a week, and so far I've played in only one game. The head cold I had at the tournament a few weeks ago came roaring back, but I could not let it stop me. Thank you, friends, for letting me honk and drip all over the tiles. I know I was selfish and you took your life in your hands, but what else could you do? We were only four and it was the new card, after all. Hope I don't need to buy get well cards...
I was going to play yesterday, but the game fell apart. Just as well, as I still wasn't up to par. No get well cards there. And since I was still suffering this morning, I stayed home from work today and took this perfect opportunity to get online and practice.
For those not familiar, National Mahjongg League runs an online site and right now for a very limited time all players are equal. Players are ranked by percentile after playing 100 online games. When a new card comes out all scores zero out and the playing field is leveled. The field is somewhat more level off line as well, as experienced players must slow down to digest the new card, so new players grab the opportunity to play whenever you can.
I began by playing in the "Social" room, which is unscored, and I played against the computer. They've programmed the computer to act like other players, and it actually got snarky when I took too long to discard. "All right, all right, I'm throwing," I told it. It gave me a good push.
Once I felt ready, I moved into the Official 2011 room. The room is currently untimed and everyone is busy accumulating 100 games. It takes a long time to play 100 games, but many have already done it. If you average it out to 7 minutes a game, it would take 11.666666666666666666666666666667 hours. So far I have 39, and am playing as fast as I can. BTW, I've changed my screen name from LindaNY to mahjblog, so if you see me, say hello.
Some tips if you are new: Make sure to create a screen name. Leaving your name as MAJ-006274 is a sure sign of a newbie. A registration number can reveal how long someone has been playing online. My number is 000146, which means I was the 146th person to register. There are well over 6,000 now, so respect us old timers.
The official 2011 won't be untimed for long. When it becomes the 2011 Minutes room, the tables are labeled 7 minute room, 10 minute room, etc. Don't jump into the 7 minute room unless you know you can keep up. If a game goes over the time limit, all players are assessed a penalty. The anxiety of not finishing on time can sometimes cause people to be extremely rude, and they will say things like CMON and GO. Others are more polite and will say things like "Can we pick up the pace, please?" or "faster, please" or even a simple fp. If you wait to long to click on a tile, your name will turn yellow with shame. So use good judgment when deciding what room to go into. Your screen name is displayed along with your rank, percent of finished games and number of times you make unauthorized exits. Some people actually exit out when they don't like their hand. But if you keep your rank and finished games as high as you can and your exits at 0, everyone will want to play with you. It's a wonderful resource. I'm just glad I don't have it at work, or I would have made my 100 games long ago.
But don't you love the new card? I've been trying out all the hands and while I had a few moments of panic when I needed flowers with like numbers, I'm starting to get over it. I'm afraid my old favorite dragon-like numbers hand is going to be supplanted by the last hand in 2011. I've made this hand a few times. If you're going for the singles and pairs wind hand with the numbers 11 22 33, and you pick two jokers and a soap, you can easily dump the 3s and switch out. Same with the 998877 singles and pairs hand. There were two occasions when I started out playing this jokerless hand and started to pick jokers. One time I turned it into the bookend hand, 7777 88 88 88 9999, and another time I had enough jokers for the quint hand, 7899 99999 99999. How versa-tile is that?