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Monday, October 31, 2011

Cáo Cāo 曹操

Posted by Ricky Chua On 10:22 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
Cao Cao's ability in this game is masochistic! Therefore he is blocking the arrow with his hand to capture it and use it for later, just like his ability.

Who is he:
The "bad" guy. The Machiavellian. The Julius Caesar of Ancient China... or at least that is what the story teller Luo Guan Zhong 罗贯中 wants you to think of Cao Cao. This guy is one interesting character; ruthless, intelligent, user of ploys and ambushes, but yet chivalrous at the same time. He treats his loyal subjects and talents with respect and admiration, yet is paranoid and fearful of assassinations. Perhaps it is due to his "unpolitically correct" way of achieving success (through ploys, ambushes, trickery and murder) that is the cause for his negative portrayal in the story. It is said that the story itself was heavily edited to downplay Cao Cao's accomplishments so as to emphasize Liu Bei 刘备's confucius-styled leadership. Either way, there is really no denying that Cao Cao is one great leader of his time and one of the most famous Chinese historical figures of all time.

Character ability 1: "Villainous Hero 奸雄 (jiān xióng)"
Cao Cao can immediately acquire the card (or cards) that resulted in him suffering damage. Here are some examples of how that works:

Example 1 - When he is the target of ATTACK 杀, Cao Cao can choose not use DODGE 闪, suffer the 1 unit of damage, and acquire the ATTACK card that was used.

Example 2 (complex scenario) - When he uses DODGE to evade an ATTACK but the attacker has equipped Stone Cleaving Axe 贯石斧 and chooses to discard 2 cards to cause damage anyways, Cao Cao suffers the damage but cannot pick up BOTH of the cards that were discarded to cause the damage. This is because the card that causes the damage is the ATTACK and not the discarded cards. Contrast this to the Serpent Halberd 丈八蛇矛, where the 2 cards used in that instance represents an ATTACK card, and thus Cao Cao can pick up both of those cards if he suffers damage.

Character ability 2: [Ruler ability] "Royal Escort 护驾 (hù jià)"
As the role of RULER 主公, Cao Cao can ask any Wei character 魏将 to use DODGE on his behalf where applicable.

Ability's relation to story:
"Villainous hero" must be one of the best thought-of abilities in the game. It is not ridiculously powerful or god-like, very useful in the game, and a wonderful fit for Cao Cao's personality in the story. Every time he met defeat, Cao Cao would bounce back and bite the face off his opponents, then convince the enemy generals to surrender into his service. Such was the case of Zhang Liao 张辽, who surrendered to Cao Cao after Lu Bu 吕布 was defeated, then became one of the Kingdom of Cao Wei 曹魏's great generals. It was also mentioned that Cao Cao loves only women who have already been taken, then relish the thought of snatching the woman away from her partner. As for "Royal escort", Cao Cao has had his ass saved countless times by his generals, who always appear just in the nick of time.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - He set the foundations for the Kingdom of Cao Wei, which became the precursor unifying the whole of China under the rule of Si Ma Zhao 司马昭. Though by that time, Si Ma Zhao had usurped Cao Wei for his own and established the Jin Dynasty of China 晋朝 (AD 265 - 420), nevertheless Cao Cao really was the father of all that groundwork. No Cao Cao, no Jin Dynasty, history would be completely different! Simple as that.

2. Cause of death - Cao Cao experienced endless headaches in his dying days. To cure him, his subjects brought him the most famous doctor of the time, Hua Tuo 华陀, who diagnosed his sickness as some form of rheumatism of the skull. Hua Tuo proposed to hack Cao Cao's head open for surgery, which in the century AD 200 is pretty much insane! Cao Cao, being all paranoid about assassination attempts, tossed Hua Tuo into jail for the suggestion. Without the doctor to cure him, Cao Cao succumbed to the sickness (whatever it was) soon after.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mǎ Chāo 马超

Posted by Ricky Chua On 9:31 AM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
Ma Chao's use of horses is legendary, thus it is fitting that they place him atop a couple of horsies. His Roman-looking helmet comes from his original portrait in SanGuoSha.

Who is he:
The valiant general known for his horsemanship and combat ability, Ma Chao is one of Shu Han 蜀汉's 5 greatest generals. Typically depicted riding a horse, he initially led rebellions against Cao Cao 曹操 before eventually finding his place under Liu Bei 刘备. Ma Chao was highly regarded by Zhu Ge Liang 诸葛亮 as an all-rounded civil and military leader.

Character ability 1: "Horsemanship 马术 (mǎ shù)" [Enforced ability]
Ma Chao will always be -1 distance in any range calculations. This means that when he equips a "-1 horse", he will have a physical distance advantage totaling -2.

Character ability 2: "Iron Calvary 铁骑 (tiě jì)"
Whenever Ma Chao uses ATTACK 杀 on any target player, he can choose to flip over one judgement card from the deck. If the judgement card is of a red-suit (hearts and diamonds), the ATTACK cannot be evaded with DODGE 闪.

Ability's relation to story:
His "Horsemanship" ability is a given. Both him and Pang De 庞德 are known for their skilled horsemanship from the moment they appeared in the story. "Iron Calvary", however, is probably just an added skill by the game makers so as to tackle the "dodgy" characters, such as Zhang Jiao 张角 and Zhen Ji 甄姬.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - Probably the uprising he led against Cao Cao, where he very nearly captured Cao Cao alive. Cao Cao retaliated by executing over 100 of Ma Chao's family and extended family members. Though the uprising gave him prominence and respect from the kingdom of Shu Han, the death of hundreds of his family members due to his uprising would haunt him and disgrace him. It even led to an aborted marriage.

2. Cause of death - Ma Chao succumbed to illness and died. In the story version, Liu Bei dies before Ma Chao, however it seems the actual historical version of events was Ma Chao died earlier and even wrote a parting letter to Liu Bei.

Huáng Yuè Yīng 黄月英

Posted by Ricky Chua On 9:29 AM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
Huang Yueying's abilities all have to do with Tool cards, which in chinese is called 锦囊 (jǐn náng). The literally meaning of 锦囊 means pouch, pocket, or some kind of pocket that contains useful items. Think Doraemon and you get the picture. Which is why she seems to be holding a bag or some sort and pulling cards out of it.

Who is she:
The wife of Zhu Ge Liang 诸葛亮, Huang Yue Ying is a minor character in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Apparently the name Huang Yue Ying may be a fictional one altogether since no historical records exists of Zhu Ge Liang's wife's real name. Some say she is even smarter than Zhu Ge Liang, but most would agree she is usually remembered for being ugly. So ugly, in fact, that she hid her face behind veils under the shadow of moonlight. In the card game, Huang Yue Ying is one of the most popular characters to use. She can be deadly when luck runs in her favour, and the odds usually side her since all she needs are tool cards.

Character ability 1: "Assembling Wisdom 集智 (jí zhì)"
Everytime she uses a tool card (except time-delay tool cards such as LIGHTNING), Huang Yue Ying can immediately draw another card from the deck. This is valid even if the tool card is used outside of that player's turn (such as when NEGATE 无懈可击 is used). This is the ability that makes her very deadly. When Huang Yue Ying has a hand-full of tool cards, her turn seemingly never ends. Although she can only ATTACK 杀 once, tools can be used without restriction. She can draw 3 cards when she uses DRAW2 无中生有.

Character ability 2: "Genius 奇才 (qí cái)"
There is no range restriction on all tool cards. This means she can use STEAL 顺手牵羊 on any character in play.

Ability's relation to story:
Both of her abilities are based on her superior intellect. Exactly how smart is she? *shrug* There does not seem to be any parallel of her character abilities in the story though.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - Getting herself married to Zhu Ge Liang?! Since the story goes that she is ugly as heck, that is quite an accomplishment don't you think? Like I mentioned, Huang Yue Ying is usually remembered for hiding her face behind veils to conceal her hideousness to potential suitors.

2. Cause of death - Wikipedia says she died after the Battle of Wu Zhang 五丈原之战. I'm not all too familiar with this one. Any corrections and contributions appreciated! Leave me a comment!

Zhāng Fēi 张飞

Posted by Ricky Chua On 9:27 AM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
Since Zhang Fei can repeated use ATTACK, the cartoon shows him jabbing multiple times with his spear!

Who is he:
The ruffian. The impulsive. The brute. Zhang Fei is the youngest amongst the 3 sworn brothers. Compared with his 2 elder sworn brothers, Liu Bei 刘备 and Guan Yu 关羽, Zhang Fei tends to get in trouble for his quick temper and his love for alcohol. Some say his fighting ability is the strongest of the three. Zhang Fei is probably amongst the 5 most famous and popular characters in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. One of the reasons for that is the fact that he may well be the only comedic character in the entire cast of over 1000 characters in the story. Judging by most portraits of him, you wouldn't be blamed if you thought you was half-man, half-woolly mammoth.

Character ability: "Berserk 咆哮 (páo xiāo)"
Zhang Fei can use as many ATTACK 杀 cards as he wishes during his turn. Effectively, Zhang Fei has the Zhu Ge Crossbow 诸葛连弩 equipped by default. He will always have the "Berserk" ability regardless of what weapon he has equipped.

Ability's relation to story:
The literal translation for 咆哮 means "roar". Zhang Fei is famous for his loud roar that scared away an entire Cao Wei 曹魏 army. That, however, has nothing to do with the game character's ability to repeatedly use ATTACK. You kind of get the feeling that the game makers based the ability of Shu Han 蜀汉's generals not so much on their historical basis, but more for the completeness of the game mechanism (ie: "it would be nice if a player could do THIS... let's allow Zhang Fei to do that").

Matching Weapon: Serpent Halberd 丈八蛇矛 (zhàng bā shé máo)
This weapon is a wonderful match for Zhang Fei. The most irritating thing that can happen to a strong attacking player like Zhang Fei is to have no ATTACK cards on-hand to use. The Serpent Halberd allows him to use ATTACK by discarding any 2 cards. The flip side is Zhang Fei rarely has the opportunity to accumulate more than 6 on-hand cards. Still, sometimes all it takes to end the game (and save the world) is to be able to ATTACK twice consecutively.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - Ask any Chinese in the know what is Zhang Fei's most awesome achievement and they would undoubtedly say "scaring the shit out of Cao Cao 曹操's army at the bridge of Chang Ban 长板桥". He roared so loud that one enemy general fell off his horse and died while 10,000 enemy troops ran away in fear.

2. Cause of death - Zhang Fei's brutish and unreasonable nature makes him a terrible superior to work with. After Guan Yu died, Zhang Fei ordered Zhang Da 张达 and Fan Jiang 范疆 to prepare mourning clothes for his entire army within 3 days. Both of them pleaded that it was impossible to accomplish. Zhang Fei put down an ultimatum: that they would be beheaded if it was not done in 3 days. Fearing for their lives, Zhang Da and Fan Jiang cut off Zhang Fei's head while he was asleep and surrendered themselves to the Kingdom of Sun Wu 孙吴.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

All Cards

Posted by Ricky Chua On 5:37 PM No comments
Basic Cards 基本牌
Tool Cards 锦囊牌
Weapons 武器
Armor 装备
Horses 马

All Characters

Posted by Ricky Chua On 5:19 PM No comments
Shu Characters 蜀将
Wei Characters 魏将
Wu Characters 吴将
Neutral Heroes 群雄

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