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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Kingdom Wars Playing Guide

Posted by Ricky Chua On 6:33 PM 11 comments
Hello!! Welcome to this guide for Kingdom Wars (KW)!

This guide assumes that you already have experience playing SanGuoSha (SGS) and you are familiar with most of the mechanics in the game.

(If you have NEVER played before SGS and, for some reason, you have a box of KW in your hands, please read through the game rules of SGS first to familiarize yourself.)

Ok... here we go!

Deal out 1 Health card per player as per normal

You might notice that ALL the health cards are either 3 units or 4 units of health (each "circle" represents 1 health). There are no longer 5 unit health cards.

You might be tempted to ask if the "halves" in each circle matters. No they don't... you can pretty much ignore them.

Deal out 7 Character cards per player 
(5 Character cards if more than 9 players present)

This is the first major change that separates KW from SGS. You must select TWO characters with the same allegiance. Suppose you are given the following 7 cards to choose from...

Here are some pointers for selecting your characters:
1. Don't even bother considering the Shu (Red) character, because there is only 1 Shu character (that's Huang Yueying 黄月英 by the way with her new artwork). With this hand, Shu allegiance is totally out for you.

2. Look for chinese characters at the bottom right of the character portrait (see Figure below), just above the abilities text box. If there are words there, it means this character has possible synergistic partners. If you happen to ALSO have the synergistic partner in hand, you definitely should choose these 2 characters. Synergistic partners have special bonuses for you that can be a life-saver or a game-changer! More on that later...

Since we have both Lu Bu and Diao Chan in hand, we should choose them!

3. Notice the units of health have been reduced? You need to add up the health units of both your characters to determine your maximum health (eg: 2.5 units + 1.5 units = 4 units max health for you).

Note that if the sum is 3.5 or 4.5:
- You need to round down to the nearest whole number (3.5 becomes 3)
- You are entitled to a special bonus during gameplay. More on that later...

Generally speaking, the Tactical characters have 1.5 health and the Attacking characters have 2 health. Only two characters have 2.5 health, Guan Yu 关羽 and Lu Bu 吕布.

4. After you have decided on which 2 characters to choose, DO NOT tell any player your choices and DO NOT expose your character cards... Keep it secret!

Set the Game area
"Everybody on the ground now!"

1. You should have flipped to the side of the Health card with the correct number of health units.
2. Place your 2 character cards faced down next to your Health card.
3. Note that the character card nearer to the health card will be your Main Character 主将 and the other is your Supporting Character 副将.

The only difference in gameplay between Main and Supporting is that the main determines your gender when both your characters are revealed.

4. Deal every player 4 playing cards (as per normal in SGS) and the game begins!!

Exposing the 1st Character Card
"Reveal your hidden abilities!"

Most of the game mechanics is identical from here on. The only thing in your way are the faced-down character cards. What do they mean??

When a player has both character cards faced down since the start of the game, this player has the following properties:
1. This player does not belong to any "Kingdom".
2. The "hidden" characters have no gender
3. This player cannot use any of the character abilities from his character cards

Sooner or later, a player will choose to flip over a character card either to (1) reveal his Kingdom or (2) to use the character's abilities.

The character cards can ONLY be flipped over under the following two scenarios:

A: It is the beginning of that player's turn.

B: That player wants to activate one of the character abilities. This means you can expose your character card outside of your turn as long as you want to trigger your ability.
(Eg: If one of your hidden characters is Guo Jia 郭嘉, and another player inflicts damage to you outside of your turn, you can choose to flip over your Guo Jia character card to activate his ability to draw cards)

Note that the gender of your character will be that of the character that has been exposed.
Important: You do NOT need to expose your Main Character first. Either character can be exposed first.

Exposing the 2nd Character card
"Let our Powers Combine!"

The moment you flip over your 2nd character card, time stops! The entire game is frozen to allow the following bonuses to occur immediately...

1. If both characters are Synergistic Partners...
You can choose 1 of the following 2 options:
(A) Regain 1 unit of health
(B) Draw 2 cards

2. If the sum of health units of both characters is 3.5 or 4.5...
You can draw 1 card from the deck

3. If your characters fulfill neither of the previous 2 conditions...
You sad monkey. Nothing happens. The game goes on.

Note: The bonuses stated above in points 1 and 2 are only activated the first time both your cards are flipped over.

Game Objective
"Screw the Rulers! Its every Kingdom for themselves!"

This is one of the most fundamental change between SGS and KW, and I personally think the change in Game Objective is the reason why KW is so much more fun that SGS.

There are no longer the 4 roles (Ruler 主公, Loyalist 忠臣 etc) that we used to find in SGS. Instead, every player is teamed up according to the Kingdom (allegiance) that their characters belong: Shu (Red), Wei (Blue), Wu (Green) and Grey (Heroes).

The figure above should help illustrate this better. At the beginning of the game, everyone's character cards are faced down, but let's just imagine we are able to see through their character cards and determine the characters they are using. Andy and Calvin are both using Shu characters, therefore they belong in the same kingdom. Ben, Daniel and Flory are both using Wu characters, so the three of them are teamed up in another kingdom. Edward is a sad little guy as he is the only player using Wei characters, so he is on his own. Therefore in this game, there are 3 different kingdoms.

The objective for Andy and Calvin are to eliminate the rest of the players, such that only Shu characters remain. This is similar for Ben, Daniel and Flory, where they want to kill off all the other players leaving only Wu characters.

Edward's job is similar... though probably more challenging! He needs to use real-life diplomacy to convince the other players that they need him around to balance the power... then somehow kill off everyone else to be the last man standing!

Now what if the following scenario below occurs?

There are 5 players who chose Shu characters and only poor Ben has chosen Wei. Bloody hell! Ben is as good as mince meat!! This is where the other big change in KW comes into play... the new role known as "Ambitionist 野心家”.

The Ambitionist Arises - "If half the total number of players have revealed similar allegiances, the next player(s) who reveals the same allegiance will become an Ambitionist(s)"

That statement might be a little confusing, so let's use the next figure below as an example. There are 6 players, so half of that is 3. Let's assume that Andy is the first to reveal one character card. He reveals he is from Shu. The next player to reveal is Calvin, who is also from Shu (2 players from Shu so far). Daniel follows suit and is the 3rd player to reveal he is from Shu (3 players from Shu so far).

Now if Edward reveals his character card, he will be the 4th Shu character. Since half of all the players (Andy, Calvin and Daniel) already belong to one allegiance, Edward can no longer be part of that kingdom. Thus he becomes an Ambitionist. Same for Flory!

Every Ambitionist is their own Kingdom. They have no teammates!

What if there are odd number of players? How do we determine who is Ambitionist?

The basic rule is that any one kingdom cannot consist of more than half the total number of players. So in a game of 5 players, every kingdom can only have 2 players max. The 3rd player with the same allegiance becomes Ambitionist. Similarly for a game 7 players, the 4th player with same allegiance becomes an Ambitionist.

Rewards and Punishments for Kill

Since the old Roles from SGS are gone, the rewards and punishments for killing off other players have also been revamped. It gets a little more dramatic when players with both cards still hidden are involved. I will list out the rewards/punishment according to different scenarios:

(A) Both killer and victim have at least 1 character card exposed
- If killer and victim are from different Kingdoms !!REWARD!!
The killer gets to draw as many cards as there are players from the victim's kingdom just before death.
(Eg: There are 2 players from Wei Kingdom. I am from Shu kingdom and I kill off one of them. My reward is draw TWO cards since there were 2 players from Wei before that player died.)

- If killer and victim are from the SAME kingdom !!PUNISHMENT!!
The killer must discard all his on-hand and equipped cards.

(B) The killer has both character cards hidden
- The killer gets NO REWARD or PUNISHMENT.

(C) The victim has both character cards hidden
- The victim must reveal his character card such that his Kingdom can be determined. Rewards and punishments will be administered as in (A)
- Revealing of the character's kingdom can result in the victim becoming an Ambitionist as long as the Ambitionist rules apply to the victim. In such a scenario, the victim is viewed as an Ambitionist and rewards are meted out to the killer accordingly (draw 1 card).

I believe that is about it for this playing guide! I hope you have found this useful!

Till the next post, enjoy Kingdom Wars!! 杀!!


  1. Hello, I purchased this game and came along a set of round objects, there's "忍" "狂风" "大雾" etc. What's the use of these??
    Thanks :D

    1. Those are tokens used for when you play with demi-God cards. See demi-God Zhuge Liang, Si Ma Yi, Guan Yu, and Lu Bu.

  2. What if your teammate has defeated all of the enemy kingdoms but you did not reveal a single hero (assuming you are not an ambitionist) does the game end as a win for you?

    1. when all enemy defeated, the game is over even if your heroes are hide, and you also win

  3. Yes. Then, you declared that you are the same team with him or her. You opened your characters to proof that you were the same team. The game ends immediately that you win together.

  4. Can you make a list of Synergistic Characters? Or is there already one?

  5. anyone know why cant i activity flip ability on the online version ?

  6. How many times can I use hero's ability

    1. as many as hero's ability states.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. If I play xiahou dun and sima yi and I take damage, can I use both abilities? Secondly, just out of curiosity, if I have two characters who require forgoing draw phases to activate, can I use both by forgoing my draw phase or just one ability?


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