I have talked about the flashy Janryumon online mahjong client before, but there's been an much-needed upgrade.
Janryumon 2 was in a bit of a messy situation, so JRM3 reworks a lot of the ideas and adds some things.
The biggest problem with JRM2 was that a genuine feeling of progress was very hard to come by. On Tenhou I play in the lower dan room, where the competition is just strong enough for me. The weak players are all in the general room, and people I have no chance against are in the next two rooms up (upper dan and phoenix, for the very best players on the service).
On JRM there were only two rooms: low-rate and high-rate. Getting into them only depended on how much in-game money you had, and if you bought an item from PlayNC you'd always get a huge amount of money that would put you in the high-rate room right away. This was, of course, the idea... but it meant that there was no subdivision by player skill.
JRM is a highly populated client, and the average player of any game isn't so great... so what happens when the game chooses three of them indiscriminately for me to play against? It's usually a pretty easy table, is what happens. My JRM stats are significantly better than my Tenhou stats, and Tenhou is the one I take seriously.
Now JRM is supposed to be an approachable, easy client. It provides a lot of help and it doesn't encourage you to play better so much as it encourages you to play more. Of course, this is all well and good at low levels of play, but you can't expect to keep the good players interested if you don't offer them a challenge...
So the big thing that Janryumon 3 did was add a league mode. Getting to league mode requires a first dan rank: unfortunately making it through the lower ranks takes forever, so new players will not be able to jump in. I didn't play JRM a ton, but I only just made it to first dan yesterday.
The rules for league mode are extremely strict and skill-oriented. As much as is possible, random elements have been removed. This means no red dora, no reverse dora, no ippatsu (first turn after Reach) yaku. Now, if you reach on a crappy hand, you can't hope that it's going to get any better! Also, there are none of the hand-holding assists that Janryumon normally offers, like the shining dora tile, the wait indicator, and so on. Points are going to be hard-earned in this mode. Players win and lose league points based on final place, and this puts us on a ladder. We start out at D3 rank, and the leagues go all the way up to S rank.
The shift between the general room and the league room was more pronounced than anything I'd seen on JRM or Tenhou. Since league mode is just a few days old, everybody is D rank right now. One moment, I was taking down an easy East-only win, and in the next I was up against 7th and 9th-dan players. I didn't completely get my ass kicked-- I was actually only a thousand points from second-- but the player to my right sure did. Glad I wasn't getting hit with that.
The second match, I got in with a bunch of 1 and 2-dan players. I did not realize until I was playing with players my own level just how hard it was to make big hands now (the high rankers were pulling them out like it was nothing, of course). The players played like people tend to in the JRM normal room, reaching on nearly any completed hand and depending solely on ippatsu or uradora to make their hand good. Of course, ippatsu and uradora aren't present here, so it was a match full of hands that didn't clear 3000 points. The video above is the final hand, in which I, at last place with 29,900 and yet only 4,000 points from the top spot, get lucky and put together the only good hand of the match.
Money and item systems have been reworked with a different currency, but not a lot has really changed there. The rooms are just dependent on rank rather than money. The cat's paw still costs 900y.
The game has, however, added an item-grinding metagame with some interesting prizes. This system, like everything else in JRM, is ripped from the arcade games: treasure chests show up during the match, and at the end of a game there's a chance that one will open up.
When one opens up, you may (but very likely won't) get a tile that goes towards unlocking items. The percentages appear to be the odds that they'll show up when you open a chest. It's an incredibly tedious system, but the unlocks are sweet: gold tiles, English announcer, and other goodies. Items adjust your likelihood to get the tiles, so the player is pushed to spend money (real or game money) to indirectly work towards these unlocks.
League play is going to keep me here: while I really want the gold tiles and the English announcer, it's already apparent that it's going to be more pain than it's worth to get them. With tiles rarely appearing and 34 of them needed to get anything, I can't say I really care much. Anyway, tag on here is 3xbreak as before. I'll be around.