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Like a Dragon: Ishin

How to Play Mahjong in Like a Dragon: Ishin

Jarrod Garripoli

There are a variety of minigames in Like a Dragon: Ishin, with the ability to play some of them as soon as you get to Chapter 2 in the main story. One of the more confusing minigames is Mahjong, which has been quite a daunting minigame whenever encountered in any of the Like a Dragon/Yakuza games. This page will hopefully help alleviate some of the questions asked about Mahjong, as well as give you a basic understanding of the game.

Where to Play Mahjong in Like a Dragon: Ishin

Before even getting started, you will want to know where to play Mahjong in the game. During Chapter 2, you will eventually arrive in a run-down little town, called Mukugorai. You will take a boat here initially and upon first arriving at the southern end, the Mahjong parlor will be to your west. To get back to Mukugorai after the story segment, you will need to do either one of two things. Progress through the various Substories and you will eventually unlock the boatman again, who will be just south of the Komaki dojo in Fushimi.

(1 of 2) The tournament option is the best way to play mahjong

The tournament option is the best way to play mahjong (left), It’ll save you from having to keep purchasing mahjong sticks (right)

Eventually, in Chapter 3, you will join the Shinsengumi, allowing you another way into Mukugorai. While under employment of the Shinsengumi, you can approach the gate that connects to Rakugai (to the north) and speak with the guard there. In order to pass, you will need a bottle of alcohol to bribe them. Any kind will do, but if you don’t have any in your inventory, the Don Quijote store in Rakunai sells some. The cheapest is the Doburoku for 800 mon. After giving the guards alcohol once, you will then be able to freely use the gate there by talking to them.

How to Play Mahjong in Like a Dragon: Ishin

Whenever you play a match in Mahjong, each player will start with 13 tiles and the goal is to compose a hand of four sets and one pair. There are three different types of sets, which are as follows:

  • Sequence: Three consecutive tiles of the same suit
  • Triplet: Three identical tiles
  • Quad: Four idential tiles

(1 of 4) Your goal is four sets of three tiles each, either triplets or sequences

On each player’s turn, they will draw a tile from the center pile, then discard one from their hand. Under certain circumstances, it is possible to steal tiles from other players. If a player discards a tile that matches a pair in your hand, that tile can be claimed to form a triplet, which is called a Pon; this can be done with any opponent on the table. However, the Chi is a little different, where you can only steal from the player to your left, should the discarded tile give you a sequence only.

Kan, or Quad, happens if you have a triplet and an opponent discards a fourth matching tile. Should this happen, you can claim “Kan” and form an exposed (see below) kan. You can also upgrade to a “Kan” if you have an exposed “Pon” and you draw a fourth matching tile. Every time a “Kan” is announced, one of the face down tiles in the center will be revealed. These are called Doras/Red Doras and they are bonus tiles that add to the scoring in a winning hand. Bonuses are awarded if the player wins with tiles succeeding the dora tiles revealed. For example, the dora is a 3 Dots and you have

Whenever you steal a tile from another player and form a set, that set will be what’s considered exposed, meaning you will have to put it face up so all other players can see it. This can affect the number of points you earn, should you win that game. If you form sets that aren’t exposed, then they are considered concealed. If you need one more tile to win, then there are two different terms for how you win. Should you win off a steal, then that is considered a Ron, with the player you stole from paying you. If you win off a self-drawn tile, then that is Tsumo and all three players will pay you. Remember that it has to be the winning tile that is stolen/drawn here, so it’s extremely important to pay attention.

Mahjong Suits

It will become pretty self-explanatory, whenever you start playing more and more. There are three main suits, as well as two minor suits, in Mahjong. The major suits are called Characters (Craks for short), Dots, and Bamboos. Each of these suits will have numbers 1 through 9 (the Craks will have kanji representing their numbers, but there will be roman numbers also present). The minor suits are sometimes called Honors, with there being two different kinds. Winds are presented with the four cardinal directions (East, South, West, and North), while Dragons will have three different colors (White, Green and Red). You can only get sequences with the major suits, as there are no numerical values attached to the Honors, meaning you can only get pairs/triplets with those.

(1 of 2) The in-game help files show all of the different kinds of hands with which you can win

The in-game help files show all of the different kinds of hands with which you can win (left), A draw will only grant points to players who are one tile away from winning (right)

Scoring Elements (Yaku) in Mahjong

You will typically start a match with 25,000 points (in the case of a tournament), or in the case of a normal table, then each one will have a specific buy-in rate before you’re able to play. Should you win a hand, then you will see a scoring card at the end, which will determine how many points you get. The big number here is the Han, which will essentially increase your winnings. Each specific hand will reward you with a certain amount of Han mentioned above, like declaring Riichi and winning will give you an extra Han at the end. Basically, the more Han you receive, the better your winnings will be. You do need to get one of the winning hands in order to actually win.

If all of the draw tiles are exhausted and no one wins, then that match will result in a draw. Should this happen, the game takes a look at each player’s hand and sees if they are one tile away from winning. A total of 3,000 points are at stake during a draw and any player that is one tile from winning will receive points. If not, then they will lose points. If no one is one tile from winning, then no one gains or loses any points. The points are split, depending on the number of players that gain or lose points in a draw.

Tips and Tricks for Mahjong in Like a Dragon: Ishin

You should try to avoid stealing other player’s tiles in the long run, to avoid pinning yourself in a corner

Mahjong can be rather tricky for newcomers to the game, as there is a lot going on and it’s easy to lose track of what you’re doing. Obviously, you will want to pay attention to your own hand, as getting the required sets and one pair is needed to win. However, it’s also extremely important to pay attention to the other players, especially if they declare Riichi. This means they are one tile away from winning, so you will want to pay attention to the discarded tiles. You can tell who declared Riichi, since there will be a sideways tile in the discard pile. You are also able to declare Riichi, but there’s some prerequisites first. The draw pile in the middle needs to have more than 4 tiles left, and you also need to have at least 1,000 points.

To declare Riichi, you press DualSense-ButtonSquare/Xbox-ButtonX at the beginning of your turn. This will lock your hand in place, with the only playable tiles being the one you draw. That essentially means that you are either waiting for the winning tile to be drawn or discarded by another player. Riichi is one of the most common scoring methods in mahjong, so it’s a good idea to press the button at the beginning of each turn, especially if you’re new to the game, as this can indicate that you are close to a winning hand.

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Guide Information
  • Publisher
  • Platforms,
    PS4, PS5, Steam, XB One, XB X|S
  • Genre
    Action RPG
  • Guide Release
    17 February 2023
  • Last Updated
    20 March 2023
    Version History
  • Guide Author

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Like a Dragon: Ishin is set in 1860’s Japan during the Bakumatsu era at the end of the Edo Period. Take up the sword of Sakamoto Ryoma, framed for killing his father, and restore honor to his name while dealing with the political intrigue that he gets thrown in to. This guide for Like a Dragon: Ishin contains the following:

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