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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cáo Zhāng 曹彰

Posted by Ricky Chua On 8:48 AM 9 comments
Translated Description:
"The Yellow Bearded Son 黄须儿 (huáng xū ér)"

Who is he:
We all have funny nicknames given by our parents, which is their way of personalizing that bond between child and parents. Thus to have Cao Zhang's father, Cao Cao 曹操, endearingly nickname him "my yellow bearded son" was a sign of his father's fondness. In his youth, Cao Zhang was said to have wrestled with live beasts using his bare hands. His ferocity and his courage would make him an excellent general.

But did Cao Cao want Cao Zhang to be a general? No. Instead, Cao Cao wanted Cao Zhang to be a doctor! Cao Zhang gave his father the 3rd century equivalent of the finger, and pursued military warfare against his father's wishes. In later years he would again disobey his father's orders, but for prudent reasons that turn out to be right.

A brave and accomplished warrior with tactical smarts, surely Cao Zhang should have succeeded Cao Cao as ruler of Wei... but why didn't he? Read on to find out!

Character ability: Versatile Fighter 将驰
During the drawing phase, you can choose 1 of 2 options.

1. Draw 1 extra card. If you do so, you cannot use or play any ATTACK 杀 cards until your turn is over.

2. Draw 1 card less. If you do so, any ATTACK cards used during your action phase has unlimited range. You can also use 1 more ATTACK card in that turn. Effects last till your turn is over.

Ability's relation to story:
This ability was meant to show off the military talent of Cao Zhang. According to the character designer, he wanted to depict a general riding and fighting in the Northern regions of China, thus giving the name of this ability.

In addition, I believe 将驰 was a pun on 张弛 "Versatile Fighter", referring to the versatile warrior and the meaning of skillfulness. According to the designer, he must be versatile enough to defeat the normadic tribe known for their high mobility and hit-and-run tactics. When it was not the time to attack, Cao Zhang prepared himself for the coming battle (draw one more cards without attack). When he found chances, he struck his enemies with full strength without hesitation (no drawing cards for more aggressive actions). Being the northern defense line that support Cao Cao's southern campaigns, he could draw more cards to trigger Cao Cao's Ruler ability "Royal Escort 护驾".

You probably know by now that Cao Cao was succeeded by Cao Pi 曹丕 instead of Cao Zhang. There are a few versions of what happened following the ascension of Cao Pi, but all seemed to agree on 2 things:

1. Cao Zhang was away during his father's death. He was on his way back to see Cao Cao but never made it back in time.

2. Cao Pi was paranoid and insecure about Cao Zhang challenging his succession.

History recounts that Cao Pi sent Cao Zhang away to lord over a region of Wei, far from the capital to be a threat. Cao Zhang died soon after due to an illness. However another version of history says that Cao Pi deviously poisoned Cao Zhang over a game of chess. Which is the truth, we may never know. As for ROTK, the author made Cao Zhang's return to the capital seem like a military campaign, bringing with him thousands of troops. However Cao Zhang had no intention to strike Cao Pi, but instead came and left as a mourner, and nothing more.

Personal opinion, I think Cao Zhang would have made a better ruler than Cao Pi, but that's not to say that Cao Pi wasn't successful in his own way.

How to obtain this character:
Cao Zhang is available in the 2012 release of OverKnight Fame, otherwise known as OKF2012 (一将成名2012). Click here to purchase now!


  1. Some historical trivia:

    Cao Cao wanted Cao Zhang to learn Confucian classics, not being a doctor. (In fact, doctor was considered inferior in ancient China) When Cao Cao discovered that Cao Zhang liked to fight on battlefield rather than learning, he scolded Cao Zhang, "汝不念读书慕圣道,而好乘汗马击剑,此一夫之用,何足贵也! (You don't learn the teachings of Confucian saints, but like horsemanship and sword fighting. Fighting is for a single warrior, not for rulers!)"...

    And Cao Zhang replied him "丈夫一为卫、霍,将十万骑驰沙漠,驱戎狄,立功建号耳,何能作博士邪? (A man should learn from Wei and Huo (two generals that fought against Northern nomads and defended the territory of Han dynasty), leading ten myriads of horsemen to fight on the dessert, fighting off the nomads, and winning honour by his hands. How can I become merely a scholar?)"

    For the successor problem, It was almost sure that Cao Cao would choose Cao Pi over Cao Zhang. Firstly, as stated by Jia Xu, Cao Pi was the eldest son survived when Cao Cao died (Cao Ang died in the battle of Wan Cheng when escorting Cao Cao), which means Cao Pi was the legitimate successor. Secondly, Cao Zhang was known for his lack of political wisdom...he was a versatile warrior, an outstanding general, but never a politician like Cao Pi...

    BTW, "Versatile Fighter" is weak in SGS gameplay (I have tested it), which was an insult to this brave warrior...

  2. Yes, Cao Zhang is quite weak.

  3. What are your opinions on Gao Shun and Tai Shi Ci? Cao Zhang seems to work in a very similar way.

    1. Gao Shun and Taishi Ci are much better.

      First, they can conduct points duel, which can effectively dismantle an on-hand card from an opponent. This is especially useful when you want to focus fire. Also, you can use it on your comrade for special use, such as removing the last on-hand card from Lu Xun or allowing Deng Ai to activate "Amassing Terrain".

      Secondly, their effects are more powerful. Taishi Ci can use two ATTACKs when targeting two targets with no limitation of attack range. It means you use four ATTACKs in a single turn by consuming two ATTACKs only. This is especially if you have WINE, ANCIENT SCIMITAR, IRON SHACKLES. Also, he has a good combination with his comrades in Wu Kingdom. He can remove the last on-hand card from Lu Xun. He is more powerful if Da Qiao, the wife of his best friend, is present. He can target his ATTACKs to Da Qiao and his enemy, while Da Qiao deflects the ATTACK to that enemy, effectively focusing fire of four ATTACKS.

      Gao Shun is less powerful in terms of hand advantage, but his ATTACKS are more dangerous. He can disregard distance and armour of that enemy. This means Gao Shun can focus fire to anyone he wishes, as well as discarding one on-hand card from that character. This is especially important when playing against dangerous opponent such as Younger Zhuge Liang and a well-eqipped Sun Shang Xiang. "Abnegation" is a double-edged. It allows Gao Shun to direct more damage by WINE (WINE is limited to once per turn, and WINE-boosted ATTACKS can be dodged by one DODGE), but it hampers Gao Shun's survivability and attribute damage by shackling all enemies and use WINE-boosted attribute ATTACK. Nevertheless, it does not really matter (only 5 WINEs in 160 cards), and it adds flavour to this character.

      Cao Zhang, BTW, is simply a trash in game. I have tested it...

    2. Found a very interesting article here.
      while i disagree with the fact that sima yi is ranked so high, and guan yu, xu huang, among others ranked so low, it is a great read

    3. Because it measures the value of the character in the team. Sima Yi can determine all judgements while protecting himself by "Retaliation", while Guan Yu and Xu Huang must rely on supporting characters.

      BTW, it is very reasonable to determine that Liu Bei is the most valuable character in a team, regardless a normal game or 3v3. Possessing both support and self regeneration, Liu Bei is a treasure to all teams.

      P.S. I am almost sure that Cao Zhang would receive a very low grade.

    4. That article was a great find Michael!

      Unfortunately, I cannot read Chinese and am completely dependent upon Google Translate. Just to clarify, was this ranking based only on team functionality? If so, I can understand why Liu Bei is at the top. If there was a component based on success as the spy or in individual situations, I can't imagine he would score that well. If this list was based on all situations, I would have expected to see Guo Jia on top, as his powers are great in both individual and team situations.

      I was so happy to see Ma Su score so poorly. However, I was upset to see Xiahou Dun score even lower! Whenever I use Xiahou Dun, nobody wants to screw with me. I even find that Zhang Jiao usually thinks twice before using his Lightning strike on Xiahou Dun. If the list was based only on team performance I could understand that he wouldn't score very highly, but even then he has to have more merit that Ma Su! My friend put it best when we were playing one-on-one and I had just used a peach with Xiahou Dun. "When you heal yourself, you are essentially hurting me!"

      Anyway, I have used Cao Zhang in a computer program called QSanGuoSha (this program can be found on the same site as the article). When I first started playing with this program, I mainly played games with 5-6 players (myself and 4-5 computer-controlled characters) and I found Cao Zhang to work pretty well as I could us option 1 to store up attacks and option 2 to unload them on enemies. Even though I see the merits in performing a points duel to waste a hand card of an enemy, I actually liked not having to rely on winning one to do the power. In games with 8-10 people, I found that I wasn't winning as often with him. I wonder if it has to do with the fact that he gets fewer turns to draw 3 cards in preparation when there are more people in the game. In any event, his performance against computer-controlled characters probably isn't a very realistic representation of his performance against human players. As impressed as I am with the AI, the computer-controlled characters are incapable of employing advanced strategies.

    5. The problem with passive players like Xiahou Dun, Zhou Tai, Wei Yan, Yu Jin etc. is that although you have high defense and no one wants to attack you, you also have no active ability/helpful offensive ability to help out your team. This is what ultimately matters in extinguishing the opposing team.

      Also, as per your example, there is a HUGE difference between the characters' powers when it comes to 1v1 and 8 players. For example, Liu Bei and Zhang Liao would be useless in 1v1, while 8 players they're among the top 7.

      The article ranks characters based on overall functionality. Guo Jia is quite powerful but definitely not as strong as characters with active abilities like Xun Yu. Xun Yu can initiate a damage to himself through points battle and replenish one's cards, while Guo Jia NEEDS someone to damage him in order to do so.

      Cao Zhang is overall quite weak. His best role would be a rebel that is far from the emperor. However, there are many better characters in this scenario, like Xiahou Yuan

    6. It's weird that whilst that article in 100% true for an 8 player game, for a 1v1 it's almost reversed (note the almost) and for a 5 player game it's somewhere in between. I'd say, whilst the 8 player games are much more fun, in terms of CHARACTER balance 5 player games are slightly better.


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