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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Part 6: The Saboteur Mod

Posted by Ricky Chua On 4:01 PM 8 comments
A simple modification. Tremendous difference.

The Saboteur card game that inspired this mod.

This modification will change the way you enjoy SanGuoSha. It increases the uncertainty of victory. It turns the guessing of roles into a nightmare. If you love the mind games aspect of SGS, you are going to thoroughly enjoy this mod. And the best part about this mod is you do not need any additional purchases or any expansion packs! Everything you need is already part of the original pack. Interested to know more? Read on!

I call this modification the "Saboteur Mod" because it is inspired by the Saboteur cardgame. In Saboteur, the "Diggers" and "Saboteurs" identities are kept secret until their intentions betray them. However there is a twist in that game that is very interesting. There is always 1 additional role card more than there are number of players!

What this essentially does is keep everyone guessing the number of Diggers and Saboteurs! Often, it is not clear exactly how many saboteurs or diggers there are in play until the game is over. That is usually when all hell breaks loose and people start cursing and swearing at each other (in jest, of course) for sabotaging the wrong players.

Now take this concept of the additional role card, and place it into SGS, and TA-DA!! You have the "Saboteur Mod"!

But before you start tossing any additional role card into the mix, let me list out exactly what needs to be done. I will explain the rational later on.

1. This mod works best when there are between 4 to 9 players. It does not work with 10 players.

2. Put in 1 more DEFECTOR 内奸 role card in addition to the usual number of role cards. Now the total number of role cards should be 1 more than there are players.

3. After all players choose their role cards, two scenarios can occur:

-- Scenario A: One of the players drew the RULER 主公 role card. This player must proclaim that he is the RULER immediately. Next, proceed to point number 4 below.

-- Scenario B: Nobody draws the RULER, and the extra role card that nobody picked is the RULER card. In this case, the roles need to be re-shuffled and players must choose their role cards again until Scenario A occurs.

4. Once a RULER is selected and everyone has a role card, there should be 1 extra role card leftover. This role card shall be known as the "Extra Role Card". Carefully place the extra role card out of the game area. Make sure none of the players see the identity of the extra role card.

5. The game proceeds as usual! Remember to place the Extra Role Card back into the mix when the game is over!

Now let me answer some questions you might have right now:

1. Why choose a DEFECTOR as the additional role card to be added? Why not a REBEL 反贼 or LOYALIST 忠臣?

ANS: Because the REBEL and LOYALIST have clear sides and simple objectives. If an additional REBEL was added, the REBELS will get too strong. Vice versa if a LOYALIST was added. But a DEFECTOR can choose sides and play double agent. He can choose to assist whichever side he chooses.

2. What if the extra role card that nobody chose is a REBEL? Wouldn't that make the REBELS too weak?

ANS: Yes and No. With this mod, it is not a good idea for REBELS to strike the RULER outright, because the tide will very quickly turn against you. There is a high chance that REBELS will be outnumbered. The key here lies in causing chaos and confusion, pitting everyone against each other. You'd be surprised who is first to die as collateral damage. Once 1 player is dead, the odds swing quickly and you can then decide on your course of action.

3. What if there are only 3 characters left after a long game, and it happens to be 2 LOYALIST and the RULER left, but they have no idea that the game is already over?

ANS: Any of the players that have died can view the extra role card. However they are not allowed to expose the identity of the extra role card. The only exception is when only LOYALISTS and RULER are left in the game.

4. Why does can't this mod work for a 10 player game?

ANS: Because there are only 10 role cards in the original pack. For this mod to work on 10 players, you will need 11 role cards.

5. What about 3 players or less? Can this mod work?

ANS: Yes it can work, though not as well. In a 3 player game, there is not much difference between (A) 1 RULER, 1 DEFECTOR, 1 REBEL, and (B) 1 RULER, 2 DEFECTOR.

6. In Game Rules Part 1, you listed two options for a 6 player game and 8 player game. Can this mod still work for both options?

ANS: NO! With reference to Game Rules Part 1, this mod will only work for option A games. This is because option B games already has an additional DEFECTOR thrown in.

Well, that's it for this post! I hope you enjoy this mod as much as my friends and I enjoyed it. In fact we prefer this more than the original number of roles now. The confusion and mind games is incredibly addictive for sadists like us!

Test this mod out for yourself! I'm sure you will love it too.

Have fun! and 乱乱杀! (kill indiscriminately)


  1. What my group of friends do as well when we're like 4-6 players only is just using the all the role cards and have the players take turns being ruler so that there will always be a ruler. Its always fun figuring out if you have like 3 loyalists or end up having none. We call it San Guo Sha Roulette.

    Also when it comes down to having loyalists and the ruler left we usually just have loyalists duel it out until its 1v1 before determining that the ruler and loyalists win, because if you keep it anonymous throughout the game its more fun and fair.

  2. Woah that's like "anything goes" mode. The fundamental rules might need a little tweak. This is because the balance between "good and evil" must not be overly disturbed.

    Eg: in a game of 6, you have 1 ruler, 3 loyalist, 2 defectors.

    Still, its a good way to keep creative! :D

  3. Of course the fun is in the randomness, we play it not because we're looking for balance, but because you just never know whats going to happen. Try it out, when you become a ruler its pretty funny figuring out that your two loyalists were actually defectors.

  4. Have you ever considered using an additional rebel instead of an additional defector when you have four people playing? When my friends and I only have four people to play with, we often find that the ruler is at a huge advantage. The rebel usually doesn’t attack the rebel because he would invoke the wrath of the ruler, loyalist, and possibly the defector (if the defector is too short-sighted to realize that killing the rebel first would put him at a disadvantage against the rebel and the loyalist). Without the rebel actively attacking the ruler, all of the other players quarrel amongst themselves, making it easy for the ruler to mop up after two of them have died. We have found that when an addition rebel is added in our version of the saboteur mod, the rebel is usually willing to take the risk to attack the ruler, as there is a chance that there is somebody else willing to back them up. I guess the flip side of this alteration is that the ruler’s chances of winning are extremely small if he happens to go up against two rebels and a defector.

  5. Without the Saboteur Mod, we usually play our 4 player game as 1 Ruler, 1 Defector, 2 Rebels.

    Ironically, the Ruler isn't very handicapped. Knowing that there is no Loyalist, he can whitewash everyone without care. If he was Yuan Shao, it would be happy days indeed. Of course, it would be a bad bad choice to pick Liu Bei.

    From this I gather that the Saboteur Mod for 4 players should be:
    1 Ruler
    1 Loyalist
    1 Defector
    2 Rebels

    Thus, whether your version or my version, we both end up with the same 5 role cards, aye? :)

  6. Where do we buy the card? (Except on internet)

  7. It might be easier this way:
    If you play with 4 players and use 5 role cards, set aside the ruler FIRST, then from the remaining 4, draw 3 randomly. Then shuffle those 3 and the ruler together and let everyone draw.

  8. For 10 players, get a regular deck of cards.

    The Ace of Hearts is the ruler card.
    2-4 of Diamonds are loyalists.
    5-9 of Clubs are rebels.
    10-J of Spades are defectors.

    obviously, suits or numbers are enough but to do it like that makes it easier for people who don't listen..


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