Today may be April 1, but I am not fooling when I tell you I got the card yesterday. I placed my order as soon as I got the newsletter, and I believe, but I could be wrong, the earlier you order, sooner you get it. So to my surprise, instead of a "farewell to the card" game last night, it was a "hello" to the new card. I always order a bunch so there was enough to go around. And now, without further adieu (or is it ado?) here is what you will find when the card gets placed into your hands:
As you know, I cannot reproduce the card here. What I will do is compare and contrast the 2011 card and the 2012 and describe the new hands as best I can without breaking any laws. It may be helpful to follow along with the 2011 card as you read. So, without further adieu - oh, I said that already.
The 2012 hands are very different from the 2011 hands. Only two hands take flowers, whereas all 2011 hands took flowers. The hand with four flowers, four two's and four soaps now requires a 12 as opposed to an 11. One hand - FF 2012 1111 2222 - worked very well for me last night. I won on it once and it switched over very nicely to FF 1111 2222 3333 when I went dead on the pair of 2's and had already exposed the kongs.. The "big hand" has been altered to reflect 2012 instead of 2011.
Big changes in even number hands as well. The only hand kept from 2011 was the two and eight kongs with the pairs of four and six in the middle. Whereas in 2011 there were two hands with matching sixes and eights, now there are four. Again, a diminished use of flowers with only two hands taking a pair of flowers and no hand using a kong of flowers.
After a two-year absence, flowers and like numbers are back. A kong of flowers, two kongs of like numbers and a pair make this much-beloved fallback hand. But numbers and dragons have gone to the NMJL storehouse.
The seven hands are now eleven hands, so be careful when someone exposes a kong of fives and a kong of sixes in the same suit. It could be an 11 hand or it could be the old favorite FFFF 1111 2222 DD (in fives and sixes) or it could be the other old favorite 111 222 3333 4444. (read three, four, five, six)
But I'm getting ahead of myself and am not up to consecutive numbers yet.
I've very happy to see that any wind any number has reverted back to any dragon any number, since I never got used to playing it that way. Last night a table mate had FFFF JJRR 8888 (craks), and easy switch to the quint from the seven-eight or eight-nine dragon. Like number quints have been reprised, but the consecutive run quint is now one suit instead of three. I'm okay with that. New addition is an odd-number quint either in one-three-five or five-seven-nine. Don't remember ever seeing that one before. Very creative, NMJL!
The classic hands are back but the pattern has changed. Instead of a pair of ones and a pair of fives, it's now a pair of ones and a pair of twos. An old favorite has been restored, but with a twist. Warning! The one-two, one-two dragon hand has been replaced by one-two, one-two three, only it's not two pairs and two pungs and a kong, its a pair, a pong; a pair, a pong and a kong. I should know, since I declared mahj in error the first game on the new card. Instead of having 55 666 55 666 7777 I called for mahj and exposed 55 66 555 666 7777. Everyone threw in their hands and was ready to pay me when eagle-eyed Arlene said, "You're dead, Linda." Since everyone else threw in, I had to pay her .50. So much for my introduction to the new card!
The "sandwich" hand, a/k/a "bookends" (pairs in the middle) is gone, but if you really liked it you can find a similar hand in winds, with a kong of winds on each end and pairs in the middle; odds for NS and evens for EW, as always. For a closed hand three consecutive numbers with pungs of opposite dragons has been brought back. I always call that the "Margaretann" hand since Margaretann played it so often (and usually won).
Odd numbers are very robust this year. One nice thing about this card is that it is strong in all categories and there are plenty of hands to choose from. The hands with the dragons in the middle are gone, but are made up for by good opportunities with one's three's and fives, and five, seven and nine. Three closed hands, but very doable.
WINDS & DRAGONS
One surviving hand in winds is the closed hand with the kong of flowers in the middle, so, again, do not expose three easts or three wests! Three hands with kongs of winds and one solid hand with a kong of norths, easts and wests, and a pair of souths, bring back some good switching opportunities with winds.
The last hand under winds on the 2011 card remains on the 2012 card.
These hands have had a nice face lift. One hand mimics the pattern of the hand I went dead on; i.e., 33 666 33 666 9999. So if you see two pungs of sixes exposed, don't make an assumption! The closed hand carries over, as does the 333 666 6666 9999, but the old favorite with two matching pungs has been recycled back in. Welcome back!
SINGLES AND PAIRS
A little twist on the wind hand - four pairs of winds and three pairs of consecutive numbers. So remember if you play this hand it's not EW any longer, but EE WW. The 9987 hand has returned, once again without the counterpart 33221, but I suppose as long as 2's and 1's are in the Big hand, that hand will stay off the card. I was a little disappointed not to see my all-time favorite pairs hand, FF 1122 1122 1122, but I suppose that one is absent for the same reason. There is a nice selection of pairs consecutive runs, evens and odds so a little something for all categories.
So that's the overview of the new card, which is making its way into mailboxes as we speak. How do you feel about the new hands? Do you have pet names for hands? Good luck everybody and have a great time on the new card!