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Monday, July 12, 2010

Game Rules Part 4: Judgement

Posted by Ricky Chua On 8:49 PM 12 comments
Welcome to Part 4! 

In this segment, I will elaborate about a significant part in the San Guo Sha 三国杀 card game known as "Judgement 判定".

In numerous abilities and tool cards 锦囊, there is a pinch of luck involved that determines if the ability or card takes effect. This factor of luck is controlled by a "judgement". Judgement is the reason all the cards have poker-like numbers and suits in the upper left corner of the playing cards. These numbers and suits are used to determine judgement.

When is "judgement" required?
Judgement is only used when a card or an ability requires it. For example, ACEDIA 乐不思蜀 requires judgement before it takes effect. Ma Chao 马超's "Iron Calvary 铁骑" is an ability that requires judgement as well.

How is "judgement" performed?
When a player performs "judgement", he or she flips open the top card of the entire deck of playing cards. This card is known as the "judgement card 判定牌". The type of card and its original functions are ignored. Only the poker digit and suit on the upper left is considered. Whether the tool card or ability takes effect depends purely on the judgement criteria described in the card or ability.

What happens to the "judgement card" after judgement is performed?
In most cases, this judgement card is immediately discarded into the discard deck. There are few scenarios where this does not apply.

1. The character performing the judgement is Guo Jia 郭嘉, in which case all his judgement cards he can keep as an on-hand card.

2. The judgement card is swapped by Zhang Jiao 张角, in which case the original judgement card is taken into Zhang Jiao's hands and replaced by another card from him.

3. The judgement is performed for Yan Liang & Wen Chou 颜良文丑's "Dual Heroes 双雄" ability, in which case the player has to flip the judgement card over to show everyone what suit colour the judgement card is. He can then proceed to keep that judgement card into his hand.

If you know of other scenarios, please contribute by leaving me a comment!

Can "judgement" be avoided?
It depends on what is being judged. If it is a tool card such as LIGHTNING 闪电 or ACEDIA, judgement can be avoided if anyone uses NEGATE 无懈可击 before the judgement card is flipped over. Remember, this only applies to tool cards!

A special note here. Other than the 3 tool cards LIGHTNING, ACEDIA and RATIONS DEPLETED 兵粮寸断, every other judgement call benefits the person making the judgement. Therefore it does not make sense to want to avoid judgement in those cases. Fortunately, this means that opponents cannot stop you from using judgement of these abilities either!

Which are the characters whose abilities require judgement?
I have tagged the characters that have abilities requiring judgement into a category known as "Judgement-required abilities". Click on the link to view the characters. It may be incomplete now since I have not finished my write up on all the characters.

[Updated: 31st Jan 2011] When there are more than 1 pending judgement card, what is the order of judgement?
The order of judgement follows the "last out, first in" principle. The most recent judgement card to be received  will be the first to be judged. This means order of judgement is in the reverse order from which they judgement cards arrived.

Eg: Player A receives ACEDIA 乐不思蜀 first, followed by RATIONS DEPLETED 兵粮寸断, and finally LIGHTNING 闪电. When it is Player A's turn, the order of judgement will be (1) LIGHTNING, (2) RATIONS DEPLETED and lastly, (3) ACEDIA.

As this segment is written as an FAQ format, I'll leave this open to further questions. So do feel free to shoot questions my way and I shall update accordingly.

The next part of the FAQ will talk about a new game mechanism first introduced in the Fire Expansion Pack 火包 known as the Points Duel. Click here to go to Game Rules Part 5: Points Duel 拼点.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Thanks for continuing to explain the ambiguous portions of the game.

    A couple questions though.

    I noticed that you said you can negate the card BEFORE judgement is played. Does this mean the card being negated is discarded? Or does it just pass to the next person (in the case of Lightning). Also, does this mean that these time delay tool cards can technically be negated at two different times - when it is first played and before it takes effect?

    Thanks again for all the help clarifying!

  2. Hi Ryan, great question!

    When ACEDIA and RATIONS DEPLETED are negated, these 2 cards go straight into the discard pile. For LIGHTNING, it passes on to the next player. Thus it really depends on the tool card itself what happens after NEGATE is used.

    For your 2nd question, the correct answer is that NEGATE can be used anytime. You can choose to NEGATE the ACEDIA card when it first arrives, or at the last moment before judgement, either way the explanations in the above paragraph describes what happens after NEGATE is used.

    My personal tip is not to NEGATE these tool cards too early, instead only negate at the last minute. This keeps your opponent on their toes since u have more on hand cards. The NEGATE can also be saved for something more dangerous such as DISMANTLE of your +1 horse for example.

    Hope that helped!

  3. Yea that definitely helped a lot! One more question though haha.

    You say that negate can only be used RIGHT BEFORE judgement. Does that mean you have to decide if you want to negate before you flip over the judgement card? Or can you wait until after the judgement card has been flipped over to use negate?

    Thanks for all your help!

  4. NEGATE cannot be used once the judgement card has been flipped over. So if you need to NEGATE or wan to ask others to negate for you, do so before you flip the card!

  5. Does anyone know the proper order of judgment cards? I don't play with the expansion, so I'm not concerned about Rations Depleted, but if you have 乐不思蜀 & 闪电, which one gets judged first?

  6. Hi, thanks for the question. The order of judgement is chronological, depending on which you receive first.

    Say for instance a player uses LIGHTNING on himself, then the next player uses ACEDIA 乐不思蜀 on him. When it comes time to judgement, Lightning will be judged first, followed by Acedia.

  7. Hi Ricky,

    I'm sorry but after reading the rules of SGS Online, I beg to differ. According to that, the order actually follows the "last in first out" principle. Meaning the order of judgement actually depends on the last card received.

    I quote "Q]当自己的判定区里有两个或更多的延时锦囊时,如何判定?


  8. OMG you're absolutely right. i just did some research and realized we've been playing it wrong all this while.

    Last in first out applies. I shall add this into the post accordingly.

    Thanks very much for pointing this out!

  9. Hi i would like to ask if character's abilities come first or Judgment come first?

    For Example, elder zhu ge liang use Star Gazing to arrange X cards first before judgment for lightning or vice versa?


  10. It depends on the character's ability.

    Some character abilities state "at the beginning of the turn 回合开始阶段", which means it takes place BEFORE judgement. One example is Elder Zhu Ge Liang.

    Other characters state "at the drawing phase 摸牌阶段", therefore this would only happen AFTER judgement phase.

  11. What happens if there is more than 1 of the same kind of tool card waiting for judgment in a player pending area?

    1. That's impossible, because only one of a kind is allowed. You can't play another one on the same player - this rule also applies to Zhang He (Hill pack) when he moves a delayed tool card.


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