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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Prologue by Ricky: 
"Cao Cao the Wife-Snatcher" is one of the most interesting and creative Auxiliary modes I have ever come across. Although I have never actually played with this rule myself (my friends and I prefer to stick to the original rules), just reading the rules is enough to make me feel excited!

Here I shall present the original article that was published in the September 2011 issue of Zhuo You Zhi magazine. I have selectively paraphrased some parts of the article for clarity and entertainment, as well as deleted some parts which I felt were not crucial. Do test out this mode when you have your next SGS session and tell me how fun it is! Enjoy!

"Cao Cao the Wife-Snatcher" mode 乱世柔情: 夫妻模式 
(literal translation = Tender Affections in a Tumultuous world: Husband & Wife Mode)

This "Wife Snatcher" mode is similar to the original game in that the characters and scenarios are based on Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The key focus here is the emphasis on Cao Cao 曹操's affinity for married women. The initial impetus for this mode was to allow gaming couples to play together, thus the term "Husband and Wife" came into the picture. However this mode has more than just couple-dynamics, with unique concepts such as "claiming" the women as spoils of victory. This is a mode that can cater to a wide variety of tastes. You can play with 5, 7 , 9 or even 11 players, but we shall use a 9 player game to describe the mechanics of this mode.

Recommended number of players: 5,7,9 or 11

Difficulty in learning this mode: 3 out of 5

Strategy involved: 4 out of 5

Fun factor: 5 out of 5

Basic Rules:
1. Roles - Ruler 主公 must be Cao Cao, everyone else is a Defector 内奸

2. Sequence of Turns - As per normal in anti-clockwise fashion

3. Characters Restriction - Extract all the "couple" characters seen in Figure 1 and separate them from the rest of the characters. We will only be using these couple characters, which shall be referred to as the "couple deck". Every character has a corresponding "mate" according to Figure 1. For example, Liu Bei 刘备's wife is Sun Shang Xiang 孙尚香, Cao Zhi 曹植's wife is Zhen Ji 甄姬.

Figure 1: The couple characters. "Husbands" are located above the plus sign, "wives" are located below. Some characters have an "alternate lover", shown as cascading cards.

4. Character Allocation - (Assume 9 player game) Let 4 players select ONE female "wife" character of their choice each from the "couple deck". Once that is done, pick out the corresponding "husbands" of each of these 4 females, as well as the Cao Cao character. You should have a total of 9 characters (4 wives, 4 corresponding husbands, 1 Cao Cao). 

These 9 characters are then shuffled and randomly allocated to all 9 players, after which the characters should be displayed face up for everyone else to see. The player with Cao Cao is the Ruler and enjoys +1 health limit, everyone else is a Defector by default.  

At the beginning of the game, all "wives" and their corresponding "husbands“ have "married" status, with only Cao Cao being "single" status. 

Important! At this point in time, the characters with an "alternate lover" (eg: Cao Pi 曹丕 and Cao Zhi 曹植,  Dong Zhuo 董卓 and Lu Bu 吕布) can choose to swap for that alternate character. Meaning if you selected Cao Pi, you can choose to change into Cao Zhi, and vice versa. The alternate characters can be seen from Figure 1

Once the game commences, you can no longer change your character.

5. Cao Cao covets your Wife - Cao Cao will forcefully marry a female character when all of the following conditions are met:

a. Cao Cao is single
b. That female character is alive
c. The husband of that female character is dead

Once Cao Cao marries the female character, she will desert her dead husband and become a Loyalist 忠臣 to Cao Cao. Cao Cao's status will become married, and no longer single. Thus he can only take one wife at any one time.

If Cao Cao's wife is killed, he becomes single again and conditions a, b, c must be considered immediately. If there is a female character that helps fulfill all 3 conditions, Cao Cao immediately marries her. If there are more than 1 female character that can help fulfull all 3 conditions, Cao Cao will choose 1 of them to be his wife. 

If Guo Jia 郭嘉 and Sima Yi 司马懿 are a couple (yes I know this sounds queer) and 1 of them dies, Cao Cao cannot forcefully marry the surviving partner because Cao Cao does not covet men. 
(Ricky: Hahaha!! There's a good dose of humor there from whomever created this article!)

If Cao Cao dies, his wife will desert him and her marital status will return to being "married to her original (but dead) husband". She then becomes the Ruler 主公.

6. Rewards and Punishments 

A. If you kill your mate, you must discard all equipped and on-hand cards. 

B. Killing any other character will let you draw 3 cards from the deck as reward.

7. Winning Conditions

A. Ruler: Kill everyone else except your mate. If your mate is dead but you are the ultimate winner, your mate is also declared a winner (ie: It's considered a couple win.) 

B. Defector: Kill every other player except your mate before challenging the Ruler 1-on-1. However, if the Ruler is killed before you challenge him/her 1-on-1, nobody wins. 

(Note: If you are the Defector and only the Ruler, your mate and you are left in the game, there is no need to kill off your mate before killing the Ruler.)

Additional Remarks:
This mode creates lots of confusion but also a large amount of fun! Xiao Qiao 小乔 and Zhu Rong 祝融 in particular have a large tendency to "cheat" on their original husbands.

To be able to win in this mode, players need to balance Cao Cao's health with the strength of other players. Strategies that are important include striking those adjacent while allying with those at a further distance, as well as being flexible to cope with the changing scenarios.

Highlights of this mode:
The males are put at much larger stress to stay alive so as not to lose their wives! But enough banter, test it out for yourselves to see how much fun this mode can be!


  1. Why are Gou Jia and Sima Yi a couple? I haven't read anything about either being gay and they are from different time periods in ROTK. If anything, Cao Pi and Cao Zhi look a little more... flamboyant... than the rest of the male characters. I wouldn't have been as surprised if they were matched with other male characters as alternate wife choices.

    1. Why do you say they are a couple?

  2. Perhaps I can tell you. The abilities of Guo Jia and Sima Yi are well-matched. Each of them possess a damage-triggered abliity and a judgment-related ability. Guo Jia can give cards to Sima Yi by "Bequeathed Strategy" and Sima Yi can give cards by altering Guo Jia's judgment cards. Guo Jia can provide extra cards to Sima Yi and Sima Yi can protect Guo Jia from ACEDIA. They can benefit a lot from LIGHTNING and EIGHT TRIGRAMS. Their combination is exaggerated by many SGS players in China, imagining they have romantic relationship, even though they do not serve Cao Cao at the same time (Sima Yi served Cao Cao one year after Guo Jia's death). And provide that Sima Yi did not like his wife...

    In SGS, you will find their combination is much stronger than Sima Yi-Zhang Chunhua combination...

  3. I'm a little confused on the ruling of killing Cao Cao off if he has a wife:

    According to the wife-snatching rules, Cao Cao's wife becomes the ruler. But under the winning condition rules it states that nobody wins if the ruler dies before everyone else is dead. Do the other players lose if they kill Cao Cao but he has a wife? (Rules posted at bottom of post)

    "If Cao Cao dies, his wife will desert him and her marital status will return to being "married to her original (but dead) husband". She then becomes the Ruler 主公."

    "However, if the Ruler is killed before you challenge him/her 1-on-1, nobody wins."

  4. ^ If Cao Cao dies without a mate, nobody wins.

    If Cao Cao dies with a mate, his wife desert Cao CAo and her marital status will return to being "married to her original husband". Spontaneously (not then, according to my understanding with my ZYZ), She becomes the Ruler. Only when she is killed the game ends (nobody wins or one couple wins.)

    Correct me if I am wrong, because I am not sure.

  5. I was searching for some information from past few minutes but I could not get even after visiting many sites. The exact information which I require is so well presented in your website

  6. I think an interesting variant for when Cao Cao dies and his wife takes over as Ruler would be to have her become the "husband snatcher" and still follow the spouse-stealing rules. The game would then alternate between male and female characters finding themselves targeted by the Ruler... or alternatively seeking to betray their own partner in order to join the Ruler.


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