Nov 26 2008

Mahjong Safari Scores

After I wrote my Mahjong Safari Strategy Guide, I got to wondering how the different boards really did compare. (If you’re not interested in this game or nerdy statistics, sorry, come back tomorrow.) Certain ones seemed better for scoring than others, but subjective impressions are often unreliable. Real numbers aren’t, so I kept track of my scores for a while. I only kept track of ten games on each board, so it’s not a very large sample, but I thought it was interesting anyway.

(Click the graph on the right to see it full-sized.) There’s a blue square for each score, and the line represents the averages. As you can see, there were big differences between the different layouts. Some things I guessed right about: the three highest scoring boards were three with long straight spaces through the layout. HH and Jail are also that way, though, and they didn’t score as well. They’re just a bit more congested than the others. I was surprised to see Eye so high. In retrospect I realize that it’s not as congested as it looks; if you get a few pieces cleared out of the center, it opens up quickly. Desert is the same way: a couple of early breaks make it much easier. Lightbulb was the biggest surprise; I didn’t think I did that well on it at all.

I was surprised to see Windows so low; that’s one of my favorites to play, and I thought I usually did pretty well at it. Not so much, it turns out, in these ten tries anyway. The 4-5 worst ones are all very poor for scoring, and you can see that the first three resulted in a lot of “stuck” games that weren’t possible to finish at all. If you’re looking for high scores and plenty of Pogo tokens, you should probably skip those first five every time they come up. To really maximize your scores, stick with the top three layouts and just mix in some of the others for variety.

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