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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas with!

Posted by Ricky Chua On 5:49 PM 1 comment

Looking to buy SGS as a Xmas gift?

From now till 23rd December, will help you gift-wrap your order and deliver it right to your doorstep (delivery valid for Singapore recipients only).

In fact, beginning 2012, will be doing 100% door-to-door deliveries for all Singapore recipients (delivery charges apply). Unfortunately, we can't go door-to-door and deliver to other countries. We'd love to, but we don't have our own jet.

Take this opportunity to get FREE DELIVERY to Singapore locations whilst this offer last. Hurry!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

SGS English Gets a new SKIN

Posted by Ricky Chua On 5:08 PM 1 comment
Dear Readers,

This blog is TWO years old. It seems like yesterday  that I was blogging about Zhang Fei 张飞 (one of my first posts) and describing the history of the Wine culture in China in the WINE 酒 post. 

With the old template getting rather tiresome, I have decided to switch to the new Blogger Dynamic template.

Yes it will take a bit of getting used to, but i love the much cleaner look now.

Here's my 2 cents worth on making the best of this new template:

- Check out the search function on the upper right of the blog for finding what you need.
(NOTE: The search function finds what is on THIS CURRENT PAGE. So to maximize the search ability, select "Flipcard" before using the search function (see next point).

- Mouse over "Sidebar" in the header and bring out the dropdown menu. Select "Flipcard" to get a visual timeline of my recent posts.

Thanks for the support the past 2 years and hope you will continue to support this blog! 

Have fun and 杀!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Páng Dé 庞德 (SP006)

Posted by Ricky Chua On 5:42 PM 5 comments
Translated Description:
“Carrying The Coffin 抬榇之悟(tái chèn zhī wù)”

Who is he?
An admirable man. He is Pang De,a brave fighter and an exceptional general living in the Three Kingdoms era. In his entire life, he changed rulers multiple times, but nobody questioned his loyalty. He proved his devotion with his own life: he fought against enemies valiantly, and he even carried his coffin into battle to show his courage (See Ricky’s write-up about him, the “Most famous achievement” part). Unlike Lu Bu 吕布, who also changed ruler quite often (because the idiot killed his own ruler before jumping ship), Pang De gains all the
valiant titles from the historians, which I guess proves his heroic personality. Lu Bu, on the other hand, gets titles such as “Brave but without cunning, violent but without benevolence”, titles worthy only for a short-sighted boar.

Why is he an SP character?
Because the previous drawing of him is too ugly!!! But no, ZYZ magazine simply chose to release several SP characters with different allegiance and portraits. Pang De is just another one of them. All the new designs are supposed to help complete the whole Three Kingdoms’ story. The original version of him is considered as a neutral hero, whereas this SP version represents his last days as a general of Wei Kingdom. Anyway, personally, I am really happy to see this “carrying coffin” version of Pang De, which makes him 30% cooler!

Character ability1: “Horsemanship 马术 (mǎ shù)”
You will always have a -1 distance advantage (default “-1 horse” equipped)

Character ability2: “Fearsome Advance 猛进 (měng jìn)”
Whenever your ATTACK 杀 is evaded by DODGE 闪, you can forcefully discard one of the opponents cards (on-hand or equipped). Note that you select the card for discarding and not the opponent.

Additional info based on changes:
Nothing special to say about this part. Both of his abilities are aggressive ones. Change of his allegiance really does not affect him too much. On the whole, his abilities are not cooperative with any Ruler Abilities and he could die early in the game from lack of defensives.

Wiki Links:
- Pang De Wiki

How to obtain this character?
He is not available on SGS online yet. For obtaining a card, purchase ZYZ magazine issue #7 (July 2011).

Contributing Writer:
- Cherry Cat

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Q-Version English Blog

Posted by Ricky Chua On 4:42 PM No comments
Dear readers,

So i'm a kid on the inside. I like the cute cartoon drawings in the Q-version of SGS, but also realized that there are "hidden messages" behind some of the portraits!

Therefore I have created another blog called SGS-Q-Version specially dedicated to it. The Q-version blog will mostly contain content that is port over from this blog, but will contain my point of view about some of the hidden messages in the drawings.

Click here to access SQS-Q-Version blog.

Hope you guys and gals can continue to support the blog, and have a good squeal from all the cutesy drawings.

Have fun, and 杀!

Negate 无懈可击

Posted by Ricky Chua On 4:32 PM No comments
The all-important card! NEGATE is arguably one of the most useful cards in the entire game. If you are familiar with the card game "Monopoly Deal", you would quickly see the similarities between NEGATE and "JUST SAY NO". Every tool card can be negated, including NEGATE itself! NEGATE can be used by any player at any time. You don't have to use it during your turn!

What it does:
It renders the tool card or its effects useless. Where the tool card affects only 1 player, using NEGATE renders the tool card useless. Where the tool card is a "Multi-player effect" tool card such as RAINING ARROWS 万箭齐发 or HARVEST 五谷丰登, using NEGATE only renders the effect of the tool card useless on 1 player.

How to use it:
Slam it on the table ANYTIME when required. Smirk of arrogance recommended but optional.

The phrase 无懈可击 is also not from Romance of the Three Kingdoms. In fact it dates even further back to what is known as the "Spring and Autumn Era 春秋时代" in the Eastern Zhou dynasty 东周朝代, pieced together within the writings of the famous Sun Zi 孙子. Yes, the dude who wrote "Sun Tsu's Art of War 孙子兵法". The literal meaning of 无懈可击 is "to have no weakness, no carelessness, such that the enemy cannot exploit us".

Yáng Xiū 杨修

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:35 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
Yang Xiu is eating the famous cake that gives his ability its name. You can even see the words 一合酥 on the box!

Who is he:
Famed to be one of the most brilliant advisers to Cao Cao 曹操, Yang Xiu was either a genius or a lunatic. Going by his track-record of excellent advice and superior logic, he was mostly trusted, even respected, by Cao Cao. On the other hand, Yang Xiu has a nasty habit of thinking way too far and conjuring up dramatic assumptions for harmless incidents. He was the ancient equivalent of a conspiracy-theorist, and that ultimately cost him his life. Learn from the ancients, don't be too smart for your own good.

Character ability 1: Have your Cake (and eat it) 啖酪 (dàn lào)
When you are targeted by a tool card that also affects other players, you can immediately draw a card. If you do so, that tool card has no effect on you.

Character ability 2: The Wishing Bone 鸡肋 (jī lèi)
Whenever you receive damage, you can voice out a card type (basic cards, tool cards or equipment cards). The player that caused you damage can no longer use, play, or discard any on-hand cards of that type until the end of that round.

Ability's relation to story:
You probably heard the phrase "have your cake and eat it too", but a literal version of this scenario actually happened to Yang Xiu. A nomadic tribe sent a box of cakes to Cao Cao as a gift. Cao Cao wrote on the box the words "一合酥" (a box of cake). Upon seeing this, Yang Xiu grabbed a spoon and shared the cake with all of Cao Cao's followers. A puzzled Cao Cao asked for an explanation, to which Yang Xiu replied, "You wrote the words "one mouthful for every person", dare I not obey?" The answer lies in breaking up the words "一合" (a box) into its constituent parts "一人一口" (a mouthful per person). Cao Cao probably gave him the WTF-look. He wasn't happy that his cake was eaten. The mechanics of this ability seems to create that benefit of "eating your cake" by allowing you to draw a card, but it does miss out on the danger to himself that occurred in the story.

"The Wishing Bone" is another famous incident. Cao Cao was contemplating a retreat after his general Xiahou Yuan 夏侯渊 was defeated by Huang Zhong 黄忠. He could not decide if it was better to stay and fight or to withdraw, and it weighed heavily on his mind. He repeatedly muttered the words "chicken bones" as he drank his chicken soup, probably not referring to anything specific. Yang Xiu got wind of the words "chicken bones" and told all the generals to prepare for a retreat. "Chicken bones are tasteless if eaten, but its a pity to discard them as they are useful for soup. He is signalling that advance is futile, and a retreat is imminent. Prepare to retreat, lest there be panic when the order is given." Boy was Cao Cao pissed when he heard that troop morale was dampened by the smart-aleck Yang Xiu!

So what's the relation of "The Wishing Bone" to the story? Not much. It seems more like a defensive mechanism while the story shows that incident was anything but defensive!

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - Pulling stories and reasoning out of thin air. The two stories listed above are but two incidents. There are others as well, some completely illogical (or logical, depending on your perspective) but all very creative.

2. Cause of death - Executed by Cao Cao. Seriously, he outsmarted himself. The signal for retreat in the "Wishing Bone" story was a military breach of conduct, and people have been executed for much less. Cao Cao bit the bullet and executed Yang Xiu. After Yang Xiu's death, Cao Cao did not retreat but instead advanced on the enemy. It was a horrible defeat, and Cao Cao regretted not listening to Yang Xiu after all.

Guān Yǔ 关羽

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:33 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
They gave him a different pose, but otherwise nothing much has changed. His beard looks exceptionally bushy in this cartoon version though.

Who is he:
He is a god. No kidding. The legend of Guan Yu and his strong sense of chivalry and brotherhood has transcended two millenia and is still widely revered today in Chinese culture. Mention his deity name "Guan Gong 关公" and most elder chinese would relate to you legendary stories of Guan Yu's strong sense fairness, justice and brotherhood. The 2nd eldest among the three sworn brothers, Liu Bei 刘备, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei 张飞, Guan Yu is usually the most rational. Of course, his combat ability is incredible and his weapon the "Green Dragon Crescent Blade 青龙偃月刀" has become the stuff of legends.

Character ability: "Warrior Saint 武圣 (wǔ shèng)"
Every card with a "heart" or "diamonds" suit (effectively all red-suit cards) can be used as an ATTACK 杀 card.

Ability's relation to story:
Like most of Shu Han 蜀汉's "combat" characters in the San Guo Sha 三国杀 card game, there is only a superficial link between their character ability and the story. In the case of Guan Yu, the game makers decided to make it easy for Guan Yu to attack other players. Unlike Zhao Yun 赵云 who has an advantage in dodging, Guan Yu's advantage only lies in attack. Perhaps its the game makers' way of paying tribute to Guan Yu's courage and raw power.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - I'm putting my personal opinion into this one. Despite all the battles won by Guan Yu, I remember him best for his role in letting Cao Cao 曹操 escape. When nearly all hope was lost for Cao Cao after the huge loss at Battle of Red Cliffs 赤壁之战, he had the ill-fortune to be confronted by Guan Yu. Cao Cao knelt down before Guan Yu and said it was his fortune to die in the hands of the respected Guan Yu, rather than in the hands of some other unknown character. However Guan Yu let Cao Cao go because he was once indebted to Cao Cao, who spared his life in a reversal of fortunes many years before. The key thing to remember here is that Guan Yu is liable for punishment by death for this chivalrous act, yet he still let Cao Cao go. Now that is a classic example of chivalry indeed.

2. Cause of death - Guan Yu was captured by troops from the Kingdom of Sun Wu 孙吴 after his own men deserted him. Guan Yu had severely underestimated his enemies and left the city of Jing Zhou 荆州 poorly guarded. While he was away attacking Cao Ren 曹仁 at Fan Cheng 樊城, the troops of Lu Meng 吕蒙 moved in and captured Jing Zhou. Guan Yu's men, who were mostly from Jing Zhou, deserted him to return to the safety of their family. Guan Yu was then captured at Mai Cheng 麦城. He was executed together with his son Guan Ping 关平 since they refused to surrender.

Zhào Yún 赵云

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:32 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
Zhao Yun was always referred in some way to Dragons, thanks to his other name Zhao Zi Long 赵子龙, which contains the word Dragon 龙. I must say though, the dragon looks a little too much like a seahorse here.

Who is he:
The hunk in Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Zhao Yun is portrayed like the Antonio Banderas of ancient China, complete with sword wielding abilities equal to Zorro (or probably better?). Always the general of Shu Han 蜀汉 that appears to save the day when their need is crucial, Zhao Yun is arguably one of the most well-liked characters in the entire story. If you expect this character to have abilities to be feared in the card game, then you are right.

Character ability: "Dragon Heart 龙胆 (lóng dǎn)"
All ATTACK 杀 and DODGE 闪 cards can be used interchangeably.

Ability's relation to story:
Scant relation to the story, really. We all know Zhao Yun is a really good fighter, so I guess it was natural to make his ability skewed towards attack. But the cool thing about Zhao Yun's "Dragon Heart" ability is he has a much stronger evasive ability than most players. Compared to Guan Yu 关羽 and Zhang Fei 张飞 who can heap loads of attack damage, Zhao Yun has an abnormal amount of ATTACK cards at his disposal but also has an incredible amount of DODGE as well! You kind of get the impression that the game makers want us to think that Guan Yu and Zhang Fei are pure brute strength while Zhao Yun has more dexterity and flexibility.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - Zhao Yun's rescue of Liu Shan 刘禅 at the Battle of Chang Ban 长板. This story is the stuff of legends. Zhao Yun is separate from Liu Bei 刘备 in the chaos after Cao Cao 曹操 attacks. Liu Bei's generals reported seeing Zhao Yun dash in the direction of the enemy alone, inferring that Zhao Yun has deserted Liu Bei and joined the enemy. Liu Bei would have none of it and believed Zhao Yun must have some plan up his sleeve. True enough, Zhao Yun ran into the enemy to search for Liu Bei's wife and son, Liu Shan, who was missing as well. After finding Liu Shan but not being able to rescue Liu Bei's wife, Zhao Yun dashes back towards Liu Bei, encountering literally thousands of enemy troops alone. One versus a few thousand, Zhao Yun manages to slay over 50 of Cao Cao's generals and hundreds of troops before successfully escaping. When Liu Shan was finally presented back to Liu Bei, Liu Bei tosses the baby on the ground, exclaiming that his son's life was not worth endangering his great general.

2. Cause of death - Zhao Yun died of old age, which was a remarkable feat not to have died in battle in that era. He remained undefeated in battle till his death. Most of the other Shu Han generals were all killed in action.

Elder Zhū Gě Liàng 暮年诸葛亮

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:30 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
A cuter version of the original portrait... with the eagle resting on his head gear this time.

Who is he:
The star of the show, but definitely not the star of the card game. In this San Guo Sha 三国杀 card game there are not 1, not 2, but 3 Zhu Ge Liang to choose from. This elder version is the most subdued and the least god-like. The other 2 are just simply unfairly powerful. Just in case you do not know who Zhu Ge Liang is, he is the military strategist cum intellect extraordinaire to Liu Bei 刘备 and the Kingdom of Shu Han 蜀汉. There is just TOO MUCH to read about Zhu Ge Liang, and i'll leave that to your own reading on Wikipedia.

Character ability 1: "Star Gazing 观星 (guān xīng)"
At the beginning of Zhu Ge Liang's turn, before any judgement or drawing of cards, he can view X number of cards from the top of the deck (X equals to the number of players still in play with X having maximum of 5). Of these X cards, he can choose any number of cards to place at the top or at the bottom of the pile. He can also rearrange the order of the cards.

Character ability 2: "Empty City 空城 (kōng chéng)" [Enforced ability]
When Zhu Ge Liang has no cards on hand, he cannot be the target of ATTACK 杀 or DUEL 决斗.

Ability's relation to story:
In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Zhu Ge Liang is given almost god-like powers that can predict the changes in weather, accurate to within the day that wind directions change. He is able to make these predictions from his knowledge of reading the stars, thus the game ability to "predict" what cards are coming up next with his "Star Gazing" ability. Ok so its outright manipulation of the cards coming up next, but heck might as well dramatize it more!

The "Empty City" ability comes from the famous ploy he uses to fool Si Ma Yi 司马懿. As all his troops have been sent out in missions, he was unable to defend himself from Si Ma Yi's attack of his current location (Xi Cheng 西城). In classical reverse psychology, Zhu Ge Liang empties the city, opens the city gates wide to welcome the invaders, and calmly plays the zither atop the gate in full view of the enemy. Si Ma Yi suspects an ambush and thus retreats. To replicate that effect, the game makers gave the player using Elder Zhu Ge Liang unsusceptibility to ATTACK and DUEL when the player has no more cards left to defend himself or herself.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - Borrowing arrows with straw boats? There really isn't ONE famous achievement because he has so many!

2. Cause of death - During a ritual ceremony to extend his life (no kidding!), Wei Yan 魏延 barges in and disturbs Zhu Ge Liang. He dies soon after from the effects of the disturbance.

Liú Bèi 刘备

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:29 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
Liu Bei is the charitable one, constantly giving away all his cards and healing himself in the process. No wonder he is smiling so widely. By the way, his super long ears are actually described in the story.

Who is he:
The "good" guy. Liu Bei is the founding ruler of the Kingdom of Shu Han 蜀汉 during the Three Kingdoms Era. The impression of Liu Bei amongst people today depends on which side of the fence they are on. If they are fans of Shu Han and its chivalry, they would say Liu Bei was a benevolent leader, well-loved by his people. If they are not fans of Shu Han, they would say he was too soft and too kind. Either way, the fact is that you cannot possibly know Romance of the Three Kingdoms without knowing Liu Bei.

Character ability 1: "Benevolence 仁德 (rén dé) "
Liu Bei can give any amount of on-hand cards to any amount of players in his turn. If the total number of cards given away is 2 or more, the player regains 1 unit of health.

Character ability 2: [Ruler Ability] "Rouse 激将 (jī jiàng)"
As a RULER 主公, Liu Bei can ask any Shu 蜀 character that is in play to use an ATTACK 杀 card for him. The attack is considered as being "used" by Liu Bei even though the card itself comes from another player. This means the attack properties such as range and element is based on Liu Bei, not the player that issued the card. Of course, Shu characters in play can choose not to use an ATTACK card for him.

Ability's relation to Story:
Liu Bei is regarded as the benevolent leader in Romance of the Three Kingdoms, usually generous and kind to his followers. The ability to give cards to any player mirrors Liu Bei's generosity.

Matching weapon: "Gender Double Swords 雌雄双股剑 (cí xióng shuāng gǔ jiàn)"
Liu Bei's actual weapon in Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a "pair of ancient swords 双股剑" and does not have anything to do with gender. The word "gender 雌雄" was added by the game makers so as to give this weapon its gender specific ability.

Additional info based on Story:
1. Most famous achievement - Built up the Kingdom of Shu Han despite humble beginnings as a straw-weaver.

2. Cause of death - Official records is due to dysentery, though the legend goes that he fell sick due to despair and regret for his massive loss at the Battle of Yiling 夷陵之战. Prior to that battle, Liu Bei launched a massive attack on the Kingdom of Sun Wu 孙吴 against Zhu Ge Liang 诸葛亮's advice to avenge the death of his sworn brothers Guan Yu 关羽 and Zhang Fei 张飞. Liu Bei was eventually defeated by Lu Xun 陆逊 and loss nearly all of Shu Han's generals.

Lǚ Bù 吕布

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:27 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
Just a cuter version of the original portrait, this time shown holding his Heavenly Halberd. 

Who is he:
Quite possibly the best fighter in all of China in that era, Lu Bu was a formidable general that struck fear in his opponents. Yet for all his military prowess and combat ability, Lu Bu was not the smartest of people. Throw in a tinge of greed, a sprinkle of lust, and you have a riding, fighting disaster atop four hooves. Dong Zhuo 董卓 found that out the hard way. To win Lu Bu's favour, Dong Zhuo showered Lu Bu with expensive gifts such as the Red Hare 赤兔 horse and an assortment of jewels. Lu Bu came under Dong Zhuo's wing after all receiving all those goodies, then ended up murdering Dong Zhuo victim over a woman. After Dong Zhuo's death, Lu Bu became a minor warlord and led a series of battles in an effort to expand his territory. However his poor use of strategy and refusal to listen to advice ultimately caused his downfall.

Character ability: [Enforced ability] "Without Equal 无双 (wú shuāng)"
Whenever Lu Bu uses ATTACK 杀, his target has to use 2 DODGE 闪 cards to successfully evade the attack. During a DUEL 决斗, Lu Bu's opponent needs to use 2 ATTACK cards for every one ATTACK card that he uses.

Ability's relation to story:
The link can actually be found in the subscript line written under his ability description. It is a phrase said by Chen Gong 陈宫, his advisor when Lu Bu became warlord, that reads:

"His courage and bravery, unsurmountable. His eagerness for battle, unprecedented. Yet brave but without cunning. Violent but without benevolence. 骁勇无敌, 善战无前. 然勇而无谋, 暴而少仁."

无双 literal translates to "Without Equal" and refers to his incredibly combat skills. Thankfully, it does not seem to be sarcastic referring to his intellect as well.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - Killing Dong Zhuo. Ok so maybe it's not a very glamorous view of Lu Bu to say it was his "most famous achievement" when he was merely a pawn of Wang Yun 王允's scheme, but the fellow did kill the tyrant and the world celebrated Dong Zhuo's death. Coming in second would be his securing a truce between Yuan Shu 袁术 and Liu Bei 刘备's forces by showing off his archery skills, but that seemed somewhat less spectacular in comparison, doesn't it?

[Addendum] By popular demand, I have added the 1 VS 3 fight between Lu Bu VS Liu Bei 刘备 and company. In the days of Yuan Shao 袁绍's coalition against Dong Zhuo, many generals challenged Lu Bu, not none were his match. One of these generals was Gong Sun Zan 公孙瓒, who could hardly hold up a dozen bouts against the mighty Lu Bu. Out came Zhang Fei 张飞 who raced out to meet Lu Bu, thus saving Gong Sun Zan. The two were evenly matched when Guan Yu 关羽 joined in. 1 VS 2 and still Lu Bu held up strong. Liu Bei joined in the fray and it became 3 of the legendary heroes (all highly capable fighters) against 1 single Lu Bu. Though Lu Bu could match them 1 VS 3, alas he became fatigued and he retreated. Still, the entire coalition of thousands was watching the duel and everyone had little doubt of the fighting prowess of Lu Bu.

2. Cause of death - Betrayed by his own men to Cao Cao 曹操 and executed. For all his fighting valour, Lu Bu became a coward in the face of death. When Lu Bu was under siege, he chose to stay by the side of his wives and not listen to his advisor, Chen Gong. He was also ill-tempered to his men, their low-morale fueling resentment for their leader. While Lu Bu was asleep, they stole the Heaven Scorcher Halberd 方天画戟 and bundled Lu Bu over to Cao Cao. Lu Bu asked Cao Cao to allow him to surrender and he would be at Cao Cao's service. However Liu Bei quickly reminded Cao Cao of the fate of Lu Bu's previous masters, and Cao Cao ordered Lu Bu executed without hesitation. Lu Bu pleaded for his life to no avail. In sharp contrast, Lu Bu's general Zhang Liao 张辽 cursed Cao Cao despite being bound for certain death. Cao Cao unbound Zhang Liao, and Zhang Liao then became one of Cao Cao's most able general in the years to come.

Huà Tuó 华佗

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:25 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
Hua Tuo is the medic of the entire game! Thus it is fitting that they give him a syringe (albeit with s horrifyingly large needle) and let him have peach while he's at it.

Who is he:
His name has become synonymous with "Miracle Doctor" as he cured many strange sicknesses. Studies by historians said his medical techniques were hundreds of years ahead of his time. The Romance of Three Kingdoms story, however, deviates from history slightly and almost turns him into Super Doctor. Two prominent scenes showcase Hua Tuo's incredible healing powers: the first is his surgery on Guan Yu 关羽's arm and the second is his proposal to cure Cao Cao 曹操 of his migraine. Both of these scenarios will be described later in the "Additional info" section. Though his appearance in the story is brief, he carries significant impact. This effect is felt when Cao Cao regrets the death of Hua Tuo as his own son, Cao Chong 曹冲, becomes gravely ill. Without Hua Tuo's medical expertise, Cao Chong did not survive the illness.

Character ability 1: "Emergency Rescue 急救 (jí jiù)"
Outside of his turn, Hua Tuo can use any of his cards (on-hand or equipped) with the suit of "hearts" or "diamonds" as PEACH 桃.

Character ability 2: "Green Salve 青囊 (qīng náng)"
During the action phase, Hua Tuo can discard one on-hand card and allow any player to regain 1 unit of health. Limited to one use per turn.

Ability's relation to story:
"Emergency Rescue" could have some connection with him saving Guan Yu from the poison arrow. Though Guan Yu wasn't exactly on his deathbed yet, the wound was life-threatening and Hua Tuo did save him. "Green Salve", on the other hand, is very much linked to the story. Hua Tuo had with him a book of his works known as the "Book of the Green Salve 青囊书". This book contained numerous medical techniques of saving lives, but was destroyed when he died. Though not told in the story, the historical accounts mention that this book was burnt by Hua Tuo himself when the prison guard refused to accept it.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - Removing the poison from Guan Yu's arm. Guan Yu suffered a poison arrow wound on his arm in the battle at Fan Cheng 樊城之战. When Guan Yu returned to camp, Hua Tuo was sought to heal him. In order to do so, Hua Tuo had to operate on Guan Yu and scrape the poison from the bone. Guan Yu refused to take any anaesthesia and took the operation without flinching. In fact, he was playing chess throughout the operation. Hua Tuo successfully removed the poison and Guan Yu was cured.

2. Cause of death - Dying in the prisons of the Wei Kingdom. Cao Cao suffered from severe migraine and Hua Tuo was sought for a cure. Hua Tuo did propose a cure: cut open Cao Cao's head for an operation. Cao Cao was freaked out from a previous assassination attempt by another physician Ji Ben 吉本 and, therefore, thought Hua Tuo was blatantly out to kill him. Cao Cao sent Hua Tuo to the prisons where the old man in captivity soon after.

Diāo Chán 貂蝉

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:24 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
Just a cuter version of the original portrait. Perhaps they should release a cuter version of the SP Diao Chan as well?

Who is she:
Regarded as one of the 4 great beauties of ancient China, Diao Chan is one of the classic examples of the "Beautiful Maiden Ploy 美人计". The willing pawn of Wang Yun 王允 in his grand scheme to destroy the tyrannical Dong Zhuo 董卓, Diao Chan flirted with Lu Bu 吕布 while submitting herself to Dong Zhuo as his concubine. In doing so, she pitted godfather against godson, causing severe dissension and distrust amongst them. Dong Zhuo relents that he needs the incredible combat skills of Lu Bu to maintain his power, but the mercenarial Lu Bu had little to lose. Wang Yun further convinces Lu Bu to murder Dong Zhuo and take Diao Chan for himself, which he eventually does. In some versions of the story, Diao Chan is said to have truly loved Lu Bu but became distraught on knowing Wang Yun's scheme. The original version, however, seems to state that Diao Chan knowingly wanted to kill Dong Zhuo and participated actively in Wang Yun's ploy.

Character ability 1: "Seed of Animosity 离间 (lí jiān)"
In the action phase, Diao Chan can discard one card (either on-hand or equipped) and select two male characters to undergo DUEL 决斗 with each other. This ability cannot be neutralized using NEGATE 无懈可击. Limited to one use per turn.

Note that Diao Chan must select one of the male characters to be the first to use ATTACK 杀 on the other male character. If this first character does not or is unable to use ATTACK, he will suffer 1 unit of damage and the ability ends (the other male character need not use ATTACK).

Character ability 2: "Envious Moon 闭月 (bì yuè)"
In the end of her turn (after the discard phase), Diao Chan can draw one additional card from the deck.

Ability's relation to story:
"Seed of Animosity" is one of the best matched ability to the story in the entire game. This ability completely embodies Diao Chan's persona in the story, which is simply using her beauty to cause two men to fight each other. "Envious Moon" comes from a longer proverb used to describe the 4 great beauties of ancient China.

"沉鱼落雁, 闭月羞花" which means the fish stare at them till they forget to swim and sink to the bottom, the geese forget to flap their wings and fall to earth, the moon hides behind the clouds in envy, and the flowers slink low and bow the petals in shame. Why does Diao Chan get to take one extra card for being beautiful? The same reason Zhou Yu 周瑜 gets one more card for being handsome!

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - Causing Lu Bu to kill Dong Zhuo and, thus, ridding the world of a super tyrant. To be blunt, Diao Chan is hardly known for anything else other than this achievement and her beauty.

2. Cause of death - Unknown!! Many versions abound with regards to the fate of Diao Chan after Dong Zhuo's death. Some say she was killed while Lu Bu escaped, some said she died with Lu Bu after he was executed by Cao Cao 曹操. More extreme versions claim she was presented as a gift to Guan Yu 关羽 from Cao Cao for his temporary allegiance to the Wei Kingdom.

Zhōu Yú 周瑜

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:22 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
In the original portrait, Zhou Yu is shown holding the hilt of his sword, seemingly about to draw it out. In this cartoon version, they comically show him being unable to pull out his sword.

Who is he:
Nicknamed "Zhou Yu the Fair" for his good looks, Zhou Yu was the most famous of all Sun Wu 孙吴's advisors. Both a military general and a strategist, he became Sun Quan 孙权's able right-hand man and was the brains behind the battle of Red Cliffs 赤壁之战. Unfortunately for him, Zhu Ge Liang 诸葛亮 is just too incredibly clever. Despite coming up with schemes to rid Zhu Ge Liang, Zhou Yu simply cannot outsmart the unrealistically intelligent Zhu Ge Liang. The story seems to downplay Zhou Yu's achievements and make him seem second class and inferior to Zhu Ge Liang. Yet Zhou Yu's contribution to Cao Cao 曹操's defeat at Red Cliffs is incredibly significant and has guaranteed him a place both in the history books and in semi-fictional accounts of the era.

Character ability 1: "Dashing Hero 英姿 (yīng zī)"
Zhou Yu can draw 1 additional card during his drawing phase. This means he can draw 3 cards from the deck instead of 2 at every turn.

Character ability 2: "Sow Dissension 反间 (fǎn jiàn)"
During the action phase, Zhou Yu can ask any one player to guess a suit (eg: hearts, diamonds, clubs or spades). This player while then have to pick one of Zhou Yu's on-hand cards and show it to everyone. If the selected card has the same suit as that which the player guessed, nothing happens. If it is not the same suit, the player loses one unit of health. Regardless of the result, the player will always get to keep that card which he or she picked. Limited to one use per turn.

Ability's relation to story:
Ok although history states that Zhou Yu was a handsome young man, but I don't see why he should get to draw 3 cards for being good-looking. So I'm bullsh*tting any connection this has to the story.

"Sow Dissension" is comes from a significant event leading up to the battle at Red Cliffs, where Cao Cao is tricked by Zhou Yu into executing the only 2 generals with experience at naval combat, Cai Mao 蔡帽 and Zhang Yun 张允. Unfortunately, that too has nothing to do with how the ability is played in the card game.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - Defeating Cao Cao at Red Cliffs. Zhou Yu used a series of ploys to completely fuddle Cao Cao, all of which ran concurrently. These include getting Pang Tong 庞统 to trick Cao Cao into shackling his ships together, getting Huang Gai 黄盖 to feint defection so as to set the ships ablaze, making use of Jiang Gan 将干 to sow dissension between Cao Cao and his navy generals Cai Mao and Zhang Yun.

2. Cause of death - One of the most famous episodes in the story talks about Zhu Ge Liang "frustrating Zhou Yu 3 times". Zhou Yu was completely outwitted by Zhu Ge Liang and loss troops, Sun Quan's sister Sun Shang Xiang, as well as important nodes such as Nan Jun 南郡 and Jing Zhou 荆州. Zhou Yu literally vomited blood and died of frustration. Historical records, however, showed that Zhou Yu died while preparing for a battle, thus rendering the storyline as dramatization.

Sūn Shàng Xiāng 孙尚香

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:20 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
Why is she splitting a Peach?? I have no clue. Perhaps it means to say that she doesn't need peaches no more since she can sleep around with men to heal herself?

Who is she:
Best remembered as the martial-arts loving wife of Liu Bei 刘备, Sun Shang Xiang is the younger sister of Sun Quan 孙权. Since young she loved martial arts and even has all her maids carry swords wherever they go. She was offered to Liu Bei as his third wife by Sun Quan and on the surface it appeared to be a strengthening of the Sun Wu 孙吴 and Shu Han 蜀汉 alliance. The reality, however, was the marriage offer was a trap plotted out by Zhou Yu 周瑜 to lure Liu Bei into the Kingdom of Sun Wu and hold him ransom in return for Jing Zhou 荆州. Yet in one of the most lauded schemes of Zhu Ge Liang 诸葛亮, Liu Bei not only successfully marries Sun Shang Xiang but also escapes back to Shu Han with her. In his rage, Zhou Yu orders his troops to kill Liu Bei even if it means having to kill Sun Shang Xiang, but the chase met with an ambush from Zhu Ge Liang and Zhou Yu ends up losing both Sun Shang Xiang and thousands of troops.

Thus the famous saying: "To lose a lady in addition to losing numerous troops 赔了夫人又折兵"

Character ability 1: "Marriage 结姻 (jié yīn)"
During the action phase, Sun Shang Xiang can choose to discard 2 on-hand cards and pick any male character (not player!) that is not at full-health. By doing so, both the male character and herself will recover 1 unit of health each. Limited to only 1 use per turn.

Character ability 2: "Warrior Lady 枭姬 (xiāo jī)"
Whenever any equipped card is removed from her equipped items area, Sun Shang Xiang can immediately draw 2 cards from the deck. Note that 2 cards can be drawn for each equipped card that is removed. This applies also to changing the equipped item (ie: replacing one weapon with another weapon).

Ability's relation to story:
"Marriage" is, of course, referring to her marriage with Liu Bei. The inside joke is this ability is commonly scandalized into "Intercourse" and since it can be used with ANY male character, she has become a slut of sorts. It does not help that her character art gave her a pair of huge jugs spilling out of her top. "Warrior lady" refers to her love for martial arts, but little connection is made with the mechanics of the ability with the storyline.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - Her "escape" back to Sun Wu. In another ploy, Sun Shang Xiang was tricked into believing her aging mother was very ill. At the time, Liu Bei was away conquering the Western regions near Cheng Du 成都. She decided to leave for Sun Wu and bring with her Liu Bei's son, Liu Shan 刘禅. This threw up a huge fracas as Zhao Yun 赵云 and Zhang Fei 张飞 braved enemy arrows to convince her to return. Alas, Sun Shang Xiang would not listen, but relented in returning Liu Shan. Upon finding out it was a ploy, Sun Shang Xiang was extremely upset. She never got to see Liu Bei again.

2. Cause of death - Legend has it that Sun Shang Xiang committed suicide after hearing about Liu Bei's death. She threw herself into a river and drowned herself.

Lù Xùn 陆逊

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:18 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
Give this man a Zhuge Crossbow and Lu Xun's ability "One-after-another" gives him the advantage of pulling attack after attack like a machine gun! What better way to cartoonize him than to depict him as Arnold Luxuneger?

Who is he:
The ultimate Decepticon. An idiom that describes him best would be "don't judge a book by it's cover". For the readers unfamiliar with the story, this geeky, nerdy scholar that looks like he cannot survive a papercut is the person who is responsible for the death of Liu Bei 刘备. He used his scholarly persona to trick his enemies into putting their guard down. This was used to great effect in Sun Wu 孙吴's capture of Jing Zhou 荆州, which resulted in the death of Guan Yu 关羽. Two of the biggest names in the Kingdom of Shu Han 蜀汉 owe their demise to this kid. Geeks rule!

Character ability 1: [Enforced ability] "Humility 谦逊 (qiān xùn)"
Lu Xun cannot become the target of STEAL 顺手牵羊 and ACEDIA 乐不思蜀.

Note that this is different from those tools being "ineffective". Lu Xun simply cannot be targeted at all for these two tools. Therefore if you accidentally used these cards on Lu Xun, take it back into your hand and use it on someone else. Do not discard them since you are not considered to have even used them at all.

Character ability 2: "One after another 连营 (lián yíng)"
Whenever Lu Xun loses or uses his last on-hand card, he can immediately draw one card from the deck. This means Lu Xun will always have at least one card on hand at all times.

Ability's relation to story:
"Humility" describes Lu Xun's careful management of his troops and his unwavering focus on defeating Shu Han. I suppose that the reason he cannot be targeted for STEAL is to imply the opposite of a careless, arrogant leader. As for ACEDIA, it made sense that he cannot be targeted since Lu Xun's patience and focus on defeating Shu Han clearly destroys the meaning of that tool.

"One after another" describes Lu Xun's victory at the battle of Yi Ling 夷陵之战, where his use of fire to incinerate Liu Bei's forces is compounded by Liu Bei's decision to have all his camps close to each other and within the forested region. The words 连营 is a short-form of the full phrase 火烧连营七百里, which means "the burning of a string of camps connected together for 350km".

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - Defeating Liu Bei at battle of Yi Ling. After a stalemate, Liu Bei taunted Lu Xun to lure his troops into an ambush. Typical of the humble man that he is, Lu Xun kept his cool and ignored the taunting. Lu Xun knew it was not yet time for the attack. Liu Bei finally gave up and the stalemate continued, but the weather was very hot and dry. Liu Bei made the decision to move all the camps into the forest for some shade. Lu Xun siezed the opportunity and set fire to the dry forests. The blaze burned most of Liu Bei's troops and supplies while their escape route was cut off. Liu Bei suffered severe losses and retreated. He never recovered from the loss and died soon after.

2. Cause of death - Lu Xun fell into disfavour of Sun Quan due to his support for Sun He 孙和 as crown prince. Sun Quan removed Lu Xun from office and had him reprimanded on many counts. Lu Xun was filled with grief and fell ill. He died soon after.

Lǚ Méng 吕蒙

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:17 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
A cuter depiction of the original portrait, showing him disguised as the merchant in white... going to a masquerade party?!

Who is he:
One of the most prominent generals from the Kingdom of Sun Wu 孙吴, Lu Meng started out as a military general with scant knowledge of tactics and strategy. Following his rising appointments in the Wu Kingdom, Sun Quan 孙权 himself advised Lu Meng to read in his spare time. Lu Meng wisely did so and his wisdom and knowledge made great leaps in a very short time. So impressive was his improvement, in fact, that Sun Quan's able advisor Lu Su 鲁肃 commented the famous phrase:

"When the clueless Lu Meng is under Wu Kingdom's nurturing, one must re-evaluate him in a different light. 吴下阿蒙, 刮目相看"

Character ability: "Self-Mastery 克己 (kè jǐ)"
If Lu Meng does not use any ATTACK 杀 cards during his action phase, he can skip the discard phase. This means he need not discard any cards despite having more cards than he has health units.

Note that the use of ATTACK outside of his turn (such as in response to BARBARIANS 南蛮入侵) does not require him to discard his cards either.

Ability's relation to story:
There appears to be two possible links for "Self-Mastery" to the story. This first is philosophical, where Lu Meng's diligence in his studies is a result of being able to master his time management and overcome his procrastination. He once complained to Sun Quan that he did not have time to read, but Sun Quan aptly replied that himself is busier than Lu Meng yet he can find the time to read.

The second is directly related to the game ability. As displayed in the translated description, Lu Meng crossed a river in white robes for the purpose of deceiving Guan Yu 关羽's troops. Lu Meng's troops hid their weapons and pretended to be merchants (who were dressed in white in those days). Only at the last moment did they break their cover and surprise the enemy. This is indeed very similar to Lu Meng's game character! Always undercover and nondescript, but when he explodes he can be extremely lethal.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - Defeating Guan Yu. One of the key reasons for Guan Yu's defeat was Lu Meng's capture of Jing Zhou 荆州. Lu Meng subsequently treated the citizens of Jing Zhou extremely well, leading to Guan Yu's troops (mainly recruited from Jing Zhou) to desert Guan Yu and return home. With a depleting army, Guan Yu escaped to Mai Cheng 麦城 and was ultimately captured and executed by Sun Quan.

2. Cause of death - Guan Yu's death did not mark the end of Guan Yu. Instead the ghost of Guan Yu possessed Lu Meng at a celebratory banquet thrown by Sun Quan. At the banquet, the possessed Lu Meng grabbed hold of Sun Quan and swore revenge. Lu Meng then collapsed and died. This story ultimately spawned the Demi-God Guan Yu 神关羽 character.

Huáng Gài 黄盖

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:15 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
Fancy some S&M action? Huang Gai is shown here as being tied up like a prisoner awaiting torture. It's not really an apt image in my opinion, because he usually tortures himself in the ability!

Who is he:
The veteran of Wu Kingdom 吴国, Huang Gai served 3 members of the Sun family beginning from Sun Jian 孙坚, then his eldest son Sun Ce 孙策, and finally Sun Quan 孙权. Fiercely loyal, he is best remembered for his sacrificial role in the battle of Red Cliffs 赤壁之战. So prominent was his role, in fact, that his name has become synonymous with the "Trojan Flesh ploy 苦肉计" in the story. More about that the sections below.

Character ability: "Trojan Flesh 苦肉 (kǔ ròu)"
During the action phase, Huang Gai can choose to lose 1 unit of health and draw 2 more cards from the deck. This ability can be used repeatedly in a turn.

Ability's relation to story:
A marvelous fit! Huang Gai suffered terrible pain and physical abuse, all for the sake of gaining a strategic advantage (ie: deceiving Cao Cao 曹操). In this card game, this effect is reproduced well whereby the additional cards can make a big difference.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - The ignitor of the flames that burnt Cao Cao's fleet. The ploy is the brainchild of Zhou Yu 周瑜 and Huang Gai, where Zhou Yu needs Huang Gai to feign his defecting over to join Cao Cao. However Cao Cao knows that Huang Gai is very loyal, thus more extreme measures need to be used. An elaborate show was set up in the Wu camp whereby Huang Gai interrupts Zhou Yu and advises surrender. In a show of fury, Zhou Yu orders Huang Gai executed. The other generals and advisors all plead for Huang Gai's life and Zhou Yu finally relents, lightening the punishment from death to 50 strokes of the staff. Huang Gai's flesh was bloodied and torn after the beating, but everyone was fooled. Cao Cao's spies reported this incident and thus it became believable that Huang Gai's defection was real. When the time came for Huang Gai's defection, he sailed over to Cao Cao's fleet with small boats filled with flammable material. By the time Cao Cao realized it was a trick, it was too late. Huang Gai set the boats aflame and the fire spread throughout Cao Cao's army. Thus Cao Cao suffered the greatest defeat in his career.

2. Cause of death - After the battle of Red Cliffs, there was a break out of robbers at Chang Sha 长沙. Sun Quan delegated Huang Gai to settle the matter but Huang Gai died of illness before the mission was accomplished.

Gān Níng 甘宁

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:14 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
In China, the word 拆 (chāi) is spray-painted on houses that are designated for demolishing. Since SGS has been around, Gan Ning has been given the nickname 拆迁办主任 (Redevelopment Officer, or the guy in government who demolishes old buildings).

Who is he:
There is something about Gan Ning I personally admire, and that is the "I don't give a shit about rules and convention" attitude. As a youngster, he was a pirate, looting and murdering and wreaking havoc. It was because of this background that he was rejected from joining Liu Biao 刘表's service. However in his later days, Gan Ning proved himself to be a fearless leader with unconventional tactics. His most glorious moment came in his night raid on Cao Wei 曹魏's camps as a distractionary tactic.

Character ability: "Surprise Raid 奇袭 (qí xí)"
During the action phase, Gan Ning can choose to use any of his cards (both on-hand and equipped) with "clubs" and "spades" suit as DISMANTLE 过河拆桥.

Ability's relation to the story:
There does not seem to be much link between his storyline character and his ability to use DISMANTLE. However the name of the ability is with reference to his famous night raid on Cao Wei's camps. Yet that raid did not cripple any of Cao Wei's supplies or operations, so even there the link is weak. This ability is likely one for the game mechanics rather than fidelity to the story.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - Gan Ning's night raid on Cao Wei camps. After Sun Quan 孙权's attack was resisted by Zhang Liao 张辽, Cao Cao 曹操 himself claimed to be bringing a huge reinforcement to back up Zhang Liao. Upon hearing this, the Wu advisor suggested a distractionary raid on Cao Wei's camps. Gan Ning not only volunteered, he brought only 100 men and promised that all 100 would come back alive. In the commando style raid, Gan Ning had his 100 men randomly strike different areas of the camp swiftly and set fire at numerous places. The enemy was disoriented by the scattered flames and did not know where the attack was coming from or how many were attacking. Gan Ning then quickly retreated, all 100 men unharmed, leaving the Cao Wei camp smoldering. It was thus that Sun Quan famously said, "Meng De (Cao Cao's other name) has Zhang Liao while I have Gan Xing Ba (Gan Ning's other name)".

2. Cause of death - Gan Ning was heavily sick but insisted on moving out for the battle of Yi Ling 夷陵之战, he was killed in action by the barbarian king Sha Mo Ke 沙摩柯 (loyal to Liu Bei 刘备) with an arrow to the head.

Dà Qiáo 大乔

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:12 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
Since she can deflect attacks to someone else, Da Qiao would gladly put herself up as a target board to entice you. 

Who is she:
The wife of "The Little Conqueror" Sun Ce 孙策. Da Qiao is a very minor character in the story that has virtually zero air-time. The elder of the "Two Qiao sisters", she is supposedly incredibly beautiful, but a person of few words. She can play the Qin (an ancient stringe instrument) and sing as well as her younger sister, but she seldom openly performs. It is said that she only performs for her love, Sun Ce. In the story, she became part of Zhu Ge Liang 诸葛亮's trick to ruse Zhou Yu 周瑜 to war with Cao Cao 曹操, though her effect on him was not as pronounced as that of Xiao Qiao 小乔.

Character ability 1: "National Colours 国色 (guó sè)"
In the action phase, Da Qiao can choose to use any card (both on-hand or equipped) with a "diamond" suit as ACEDIA 乐不思蜀.

Character ability 2: "Displacement 流离 (liú lí)"
Whenever Da Qiao becomes the target of ATTACK 杀, she can discard any card and divert the ATTACK to a player within her attacking range. This player cannot be the original player that used the ATTACK card.

Ability's relation to story:
There is almost no reliable link bridging these abilities to the story line. All we know is Da Qiao is beautiful, so beautiful perhaps that her beauty can mesmerize the enemies into forgetting about the battle? Pure conjecture, of course, and I have not found any direct link. The same with "Displacement". The actual translation for 流离 means to live like a wandering refugee, but there is no mention of her after Sun Ce's death that suggests anything like this.

Additional info from story:
1. Most famous achievement - Marrying Sun Ce?! Not being misogynistic here but I have not found anything of value. Please share if you have!!

2. Cause of death - Unknown! It was never mentioned in the story or in historical texts.

Sūn Quán 孙权

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:11 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
Sun Quan's ability "Balance of power" becomes literal here as the artist gave him two mugs of beer to balance in his arms!

Who is he:
One of "the Three", Sun Quan is the ruler who ultimately formed the Kingdom of Sun Wu 孙吴. He took over the reigns of ruler from his elder brother, Sun Ce 孙策, at the age of 18 and led the Wu Kingdom till his death at 70 years old. He is the longest serving ruler of the era. Compared to Sun Ce who was known as the "Little Conqueror 小霸王", Sun Quan was not as strong a combat fighter, but he was able to win the hearts and respect of his generals and people. He was surrounded with loyal and capable talents, which he prudently retained. The Kingdoms of Sun Wu and Shu Han 蜀汉 formed an alliance to resist Cao Cao 曹操's attacks. However, Sun Quan's short alliance with Liu Bei 刘备 became a sore point as the wits of Sun Wu were no match for the prescient Zhu Ge Liang 诸葛亮. Regardless, the Kingdom of Sun Wu lasted longer than both Cao Wei 曹魏 and Shu Han. It was the last to be defeated by the Si Ma 司马 family, which marked the end of the Three Kingdoms era and the beginning of the Jin Dynasty 晋朝.

Character ability 1: "Balance of Power 制衡 (zhì héng)"
During the action phase, Sun Quan can discard any number of his cards (both on-hand or equipped) and draw the same number of new cards from the deck. Limited to once per turn.

Character ability 2: [Ruler ability] [Enforced ability] "Rescued 救援 (jiù yuán)"
When Sun Quan is rescued from the brink of death by other Wu characters via the use of PEACH 桃, Sun Quan recovers 1 additional unit of health (from zero health to two units of health).

Ability's relation to story:
"Balance of Power" refers to Sun Quan's decision to ally with Liu Bei so as to counter the immense army of Cao Cao. Before the battle of Red Cliffs 赤壁之战, Cao Cao has already amassed an army far greater than either Shu Han or Sun Wu. With the alliance, both the kingdoms were able to restore the balance of power and prevent a complete runover by Cao Cao. "Rescued" could be referring to Zhou Tai 周泰's rescue of Sun Quan from numerous near-death encounters. Though it is unfair to single-out Zhou Tai for commendation, the story places great emphasis of Zhou Tai's sacrificial (sometimes suicidal) charges to rescue Sun Quan.

Additional info from the story:
1. Most famous achievement - Setting up the Wu Kingdom and having ruled it well from 18 to 70 years old.

2. Cause of death - Sun Quan died of old-age, though it can also be reasonably said to be due to illness. Either way, he was not killed in action. Besides, living till the age of 70 in that era is a feat on its own.

Zhēn Jī 甄姬

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:09 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
Just a cuter version of the thigh-revealing peakaboo that was the original portrait.

Who is she:
An extremely beautiful woman with smarts and capability, Zhen Ji was Cao Pi 曹丕's first wife. The word 姬 is a title for "lady". Thus her real name is not Zhen Ji, but rather Zhen Luo 甄洛. Her life was a down-hill rollercoaster of misfortune and victimization. She lost her father at the age of 2, was married to Yuan Shao 袁绍's son Yuan Xi 袁熙, but was forcefully remarried to Cao Pi after he became obsessed with her beauty. After giving birth to Cao Rui 曹睿, she fell out of favor with Cao Pi due to rumours and bad-mouthing from his concubine, Guo Nu Wang 郭女王. Zhen Ji never did manage to win back Cao Pi's favor. Instead, the bad-mouthing from Guo Nu Wang became worse. Zhen Ji paid the ultimate price when Cao Pi, poisoned by Guo Nu Wang's words, forced Zhen Ji to commit suicide.

Character ability 1: "Impetus for War 倾国 (qīng guó)"
Every on-hand card that is a "club" or a "spade" suit can be used as DODGE 闪 at any time.

Character ability 2: "Goddess Luo 洛神 (luò shén)"
At the beginning of the turn (before judgement phase for any time-delay tool cards), Zhen Ji can choose to flip a judgement card. If the judgement card is a black-suited card ("clubs" or "spades"), she can keep the card as an on-hand card and she can continue to flip over another judgement card. Once the judgement card is red-suited card, the ability ends and she cannot keep that red-suited card.

Important note: This ability takes precedence BEFORE the judgement of time-delay tool cards (such as LIGHTNING).

It is perfectly possible for Zhen Ji to amass over 10 cards in a row using this ability, provided it is a string of consecutive black-suited cards. It is also perfectly possible to amass none at all if the very first card is red-suited.

Note that after the ability ends, Zhen Ji can still draw 2 more cards from the deck as per normal. (Yes she will have a shit load of cards if she's lucky!)

Ability's relation to story:
"Impetus to war" is not linked to the story. Though we know that Cao Pi peeled her from Yuan Xi, she was not the reason Cao Cao destroyed Yuan Shao and family. This ability is probably centered around game mechanics than history. "Goddess Luo" stems from a poem written by Cao Zhi 曹植, Cao Pi's brother, known as "Goddess of the Luo River 洛水之神", apparently praising the goddess for her ethereal beauty, intelligence and capability. It is rumoured that Cao Zhi had an affair with Zhen Ji.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - Giving birth to the man who would become Emperor of Wei, Cao Rui. This became the sore point that eventually led to her death, because Guo Nu Wang poisoned Cao Pi into believing that Cao Rui is not his child but Yuan Xi's.

2. Cause of death - Suicide... but more likely forced than willing. The exact method of death is unclear, but one story goes that Cao Pi personally handed her a glass of poison to drink. Zhen Ji knows full well what it means, so after drinking but before the poison takes effect, she cleans the glass. This is so as to protect Cao Pi's reputation, since for an emperor to murder his own wife is detrimental to his reign.

Zhāng Liáo 张辽

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:07 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
Unfortunately, this is just a cuter version of the original SanGuoSha portait. There does not seem to be any hidden meaning.

Who is he:
Supposedly one of the top 5 generals of the Kingdom of Cao Wei 曹魏, Zhang Liao did not initially intend to follow under Cao Cao 曹操. In fact, Zhang Liao offered his neck for Cao Cao for beheading rather than choose to surrender. While Zhang Liao was serving Lu Bu 吕布, word had already went around of Zhang Liao's combat ability and his righteous character. Guan Yu 关羽 once asked him why he was serving for a man such as Lu Bu and Zhang Liao could only look down in shame. The two later became fast friends, though circumstances dictate they had to be enemies. Zhang Liao achieved renown under Cao Cao as a steadfast and competent general. His title of "General of the Front" was given to him by Cao Pi 曹丕 after Cao Pi succeeded Cao Cao.

Character ability: "Sudden Strike 突击 (tū jī)"
In the drawing phase, Zhang Liao can choose to forgo drawing cards from the deck and, instead, draw 1 on-hand card from other players. Maximum 2 players (2 cards nett intake), minimum 1 player (1 card nett intake).

Note that Zhang Liao cannot mix "Sudden Raid" with drawing from the deck (ie: he cannot draw one card from the deck and one card from a player). 

Ability's relation to story:
This part of the story occurs in the battle of He Fei 合肥之战 where Sun Quan 孙权, ruler of Sun Wu 孙吴, led a massive army to attack He Fei. Zhang Liao was one of 3 Cao Wei generals guarding He Fei, but they only had a combined army of 7000 men, many times less than the enemy. Leading the troops out, Zhang Liao bravely charged into the enemy and his combat prowess scared the balls off his enemy. Sun Quan's troops started deserting, not really knowing how large Zhang Liao's army was. Sun Quan climbed up a hill and saw that Zhang Liao was vastly outnumbered. He ordered his troops to encircle Zhang Liao. Unexpectedly, Zhang Liao suddenly charged out of the encirclement (thus the name "Sudden Strike") with a handful of troops and made straight for Sun Quan. The rest of Zhang Liao's troops cried out to him, "General! Have you abandoned us?!" Hearing this, Zhang Liao turned back and rescued his troops from certain death. Both parties grew weary and tired, thus they broke battle and headed back to camp.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - His cursing and swearing at Cao Cao and his refusal to surrender. This occurred early on in the story where Zhang Liao's leader Lu Bu had been executed by Cao Cao. In contrast to Lu Bu, who pleaded for mercy, Zhang Liao cussed Cao Cao endlessly and refused to surrender. Cao Cao was pissed off enough to bring a sword and wanted to decapitate him personally. Zhang Liao responded by sticking his neck out and welcoming death. Liu Bei 刘备 and Guan Yu 关羽 intervened and pleaded for Zhang Liao to be spared. Impressed by Zhang Liao's righteousness and courage, Cao Cao then put down his sword and personally unbound Zhang Liao. It was thus that Zhang Liao came to respect Cao Cao the same and, thence, began a great leader-servant relationship.

2. Cause of death - Zhang Liao suffered an arrow wound after rescuing Cao Pi from Wu forces. Though they were all eventually rescued by Xu Huang 徐晃, Zhang Liao succumbed to his wound and died soon after.

Xǔ Chǔ 许褚

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:05 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
Xu Chu's ability is taken to the extreme in this adorable cartoon. Instead of being "Bare-chested", they drew him practically "butt-naked"! This is also because the words 裸衣 for his ability can be taken to mean "stripped of clothing"... and no, they did not mention to what extent he has to strip. 

Who is he:
Long-serving bodyguard of Cao Cao 曹操, Xu Chu was said to be a huge person. His height was about 2 meters and his waist 52 inches. Probably one of the 20 most famous characters in Romance of Three Kingdoms, he has significant air-time in the story for the many instances that stood forth to protect Cao Cao. His combat ability was reputed to be on par with Zhang Fei 张飞, Guan Yu 关羽 and company. His moment of glory came in the fictional account of him stripping off all his armour for his fight with Ma Chao 马超. This bravado mixed with insanity helped him secure a place in history.

Character ability: "Bare-Chested 裸衣 (luǒ yī)"
Xu Chu can choose to draw 1 card less in his drawing phase. If he chooses to do so, any ATTACK 杀 and DUEL 决斗 that he uses in the action phase results in 1 additional unit of damage to his opponent. Note that if Xu Chu loses the DUEL, he only needs lose 1 unit. But if he wins, the victim loses 2 units.

Ability's relation to the story:
In his duel with Ma Chao, the two generals were fairly matched for over a hundred rounds. Xu Chu then momentarily backs off, strips off all his armour, then goes back to continue the duel bare-chested! This act of madness is followed later by his discarding his sword and grabbing Ma Chao's spear under his armpit. The ensuing struggle snaps the spear in two. The two then hack at each other with their halves of the broken spear. No wonder that Ma Chao later describes Xu Chu as a tiger gone insane.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - His strip-tease episode as mentioned above.

2. Cause of death - Xu Chu probably died of old-age. He served 3 generations of Cao Cao's family: under Cao Cao, followed by Cao Pi 曹丕 after Cao Cao's death, followed by Cao Rui 曹睿 after Cao Pi's death. His loyalty to the Cao family was unquestioned. He was then posthumously titled Zhuang Hou 壮侯 (Marquis of Strength).

Xià Hóu Dūn 夏侯惇

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:04 PM 1 comment
What's with the cartoon?
Why he is peeling petals off a flower, I have no clue. Perhaps it has to do with him losing his eye?? Or is he longing for his fair-lady? There has never seem to be any mention of this though!

Who is he:
Best remembered for the scene where he lost his eye, Xia Hou Dun is a ferocious combat general with balls of steel and fiery determination. He is one of Cao Cao 曹操's most loyal generals and is supposedly a distant relative. The story goes that Xia Hou Dun was caught in an ambush and suffered an arrow to his eye. His troops were panic-stricken, thinking that their general had fallen. But then Xia Hou Dun grabbed the arrow and yanked it out of his head, pulling with it his eyeball skewered on the arrow shaft. With one gulp he swallows his own eyeball, then charges right back at the assailant. Needless to say, the assailant died a horrible death when Xia Hou Dun got to him. His act of swallowing his eye-ball rallied his troops' morale and scared the shit out of his enemies. Henceforth, the name of Xia Hou Dun has become synonymous with bravery and gung-ho.

Character ability: "An Eye for an Eye 刚烈 (gāng liè)"
Everytime Xia Hou Dun suffers damage (count by occurrence and not by units of damage), he can choose to flip a judgement card. If the judgement is not the suit of "hearts", the source player that caused the damage can choose 1 of 2 options.

Option 1: Lose 1 unit of health

Option 2: Discard any 2 on-hand cards (chosen by the source player, and not Xia Hou Dun)

Ability's relation to story:
I could not help but use a pun to translate 刚烈 as "an eye for an eye". The most straightforward link to the story is where Xia Hou Dun impales Cao Xing 曹性 for firing the arrow that wasted his eye. It is said that Xia Hou Dun impaled Cao Xing's face before trampling his body beneath his horse. In the cardgame, this ability is a very effective deterrent to opponents. A wonderful psychological link to the story in terms of the effect Xia Hou Dun has on his enemies.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - Losing his bloody eye!

2. Cause of death - In the historical account, Xia Hou Dun dies of an illness at an age of approximately 50 - 60 years old. But this defers from the Romance of Three Kingdoms story which dramatized his death as being caused by an encounter with Guan Yu 关羽's ghost. In the olden days, illnesses were very much attributed to supernatural reasons, thus it is not too far-fetched for readers to believe (especially in the 1300's when the story was written).

Sī Mǎ Yì 司马懿

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:02 PM No comments
What's with the cartoon?
The cartoon is a cute-version of the original portrait in SanGuoSha, where he is seen having the ability to conjure up blue flames... which is of course a complete understatement of his power.

Who is he:
The cunning. The scheming. The ultimate bad guy. He is the beginning of the end of the Three Kingdoms era. If you have never read Romance of Three Kingdoms, my apologies for the spoiler. We are talking about a man of ambition so great, it transcended two generations after his death before it was achieved. Portrayed as cunning and untrustworthy with promises, Si Ma Yi is practically demonized by the story. No doubt he was the most important military advisor the Kingdom of Cao Wei 曹魏 ever had, time would never dilute his usurper legacy that erased Cao Wei off the face of the planet. As tribute to this incredibly smart yet devious historical figure, the card game has aptly given Si Ma Yi abilities that make him a formidable opponent. Meet the most dangerous character in the entire San Guo Sha 三国杀 card game.

Character ability 1: "Retaliation 反馈 (fǎn kuì)"
When Si Ma Yi receives any damage, he can obtain 1 card (whether on-hand or equipped) from the player who is the source of the damage. In most cases, source of damage is the player who is currently in the action phase (that player's turn) that played an offensive move.

Character ability 2: "Demonic Talent 鬼才 (guǐ cái)"
After any judgement card has been flipped over, Si Ma Yi can immediately play one of his on-hand cards to "replace" the judgement card. Note that Si Ma Yi cannot take back the original judgement card. Net effect is Si Ma Yi loses one on-hand card to change the judgement card.

Ability's relation to story:
It is generally well-known that Si Ma Yi was a smart and shrewd strategist, but no, he was not smart enough to tinker with heaven's will. The abilities themselves do not reflect Si Ma Yi as well as how these abilities are used during game play. As a "Judgement Tinkerer", Si Ma Yi can just crouch inactively, waiting for judgement cards to appear before he rears his ugly head. This somewhat resembles the life mission of Si Ma Yi as he lay in wait for the right moment, then pouncing on opportunity to usurp an entire Cao Wei kingdom for his own.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - The man that started the end of the Three Kingdoms era. Si Ma Yi handed down power to his son and grandson, who ultimately concurred all of China to form the Jin Dynasty 晋朝 (AD 265 - 420).

2. Cause of death - Si Ma Yi died of old-age at 72. His son Si Ma Shi 司马师 took over the reigns and strengthened his family's control over Cao Wei, followed by his grandson Si Ma Zhao 司马昭 who united China.

Guō Jiā 郭嘉

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:00 PM 1 comment
What's with the cartoon?
Seems like he is conjuring magic of some sort with the Taoist symbols in his hand. Perhaps the image refers to his uncanny predictions??

Who is he:
It is said that Cao Cao 曹操 would have won the war if Guo Jia had lived longer. In the early days of Cao Cao's expeditions, there were usually more than one advisor by Cao Cao's side, but Guo Jia's analysis of situations and predictions always seemed to be correct. It is a pity that Guo Jia and Zhu Ge Liang 诸葛亮 belonged to two different chronological segments, and thus never had a chance to compete head-to-head. Despite knowing his days were numbered, Guo Jia could accurately predict how the near future would unravel. On realizing that Guo Jia was absolutely right about how things played out even weeks after his death, Cao Cao wept for the loss of this amazing talent. Like Dian Wei 典韦, Guo Jia died much too early and severely handicapped the potential of Cao Cao's army. The game makers of San Guo Sha 三国杀 paid adequate tribute to the brilliance of Guo Jia by making him one of the most powerful and most popular characters in the entire game. A search of player comments on forums turn up numerous praises for Guo Jia, with many declaring him their all-time favorite character to use.

Character ability 1: "Envy of Heaven 天妒 (tiān dù)"
Guo Jia can obtain any judgement card that he flips over. For example, every time he undergoes judgement for LIGHTNING 闪电 during his turn, he can keep the judgement card that he flipped over. However if he uses ATTACK 杀 on a player that equipped EIGHT TRIGRAMS 八卦阵, Guo Jia cannot keep the judgement card for judgement of EIGHT TRIGRAMS because that card would be flipped over by the target player and not himself.

Character ability 2: "Bequeathed Strategy 遗计 (yí jì)"
For every 1 unit of damage that Guo Jia receives, he can draw 2 cards from the deck. He can then choose to give away one, two, or none of these 2 cards to any player.

Ability's relation to story:
Brilliant!!! The chinese name for "Envy of Heaven" is called 天妒 and is short for a more common phrase called 天妒英才 (tiān dù yīng cíi). It translates as "heaven is jealous of a person with such immense intellect/skill/potential" and is morbidly used to describe rare talents who died young. Chinese like to think that heaven struck them down out of jealousy. Guo Jia's "Envy of Heaven" ability seems to mock the heavens as he can benefit from heaven's will (judgement cards). "Bequeathed Strategy" is equally apt as it almost re-enacts Guo Jia's contribution to Cao Cao after dying. Read more about the story behind "Bequeathed Strategy" below.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - Guo Jia's bequeathed strategy to Cao Cao. After Yuan Shao 袁绍 and his sons Yuan Shang 袁尚 and Yuan Xi 袁熙 were defeated by Cao Cao, Guo Jia died of illness. He left Cao Cao a secret strategy that said Yuan Shang and Yuan Xi would flee to join Gong Sun Kang 公孙康 and told Cao Cao not to pursue. Guo Jia predicted that Yuan Shang and Yuan Xi's heads would be sent by Gong Sun Kang as long as Cao Cao did not make any move against Gong Sun Kang. This went against the advice of many of Cao Cao's generals, who felt they should crush the brothers while they were weak. True enough, everything that Guo Jia predicted came true.

2. Cause of death - During the northern expedition to erradicate the Yuan brothers, Cao Cao's army travelled light for speed but was ill-prepared for the terrible weather. Guo Jia fell sick along the journey and was unable to join Cao Cao at the battles. By the time Cao Cao returned after the battle was won, Guo Jia had already succumbed to his illness. He was 37.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Guān Yǔ 关羽 (SP007)

Posted by Ricky Chua On 1:55 PM 17 comments
Translated Description
“Marquis of HanShou 汉寿亭侯(hàn shòu tíng hóu)”

Who is he?
Even if you cannot identify him through his new appearance, you should have noticed the Red Hare 赤兔 and the Green Dragon Crescent Blade 青龙偃月刀. Bingo! He’s our loyal “second brother”, the warrior saint in legend, the bearded gentleman in history, Guan Yu.

Wait a minute... The frame of this card is blue? Is this like 徐庶Xu Shu, who has a blue frame but still belongs to 蜀 Shu? Oh my god he doesn’t even belong to Shu Kingdom any more? Why was his allegiance changed to 魏 Wei? Designer’s mistake? Printers ran out of blue ink? Don’t panic, Guan Yu never betrayed his only ruler and "Elder brother" 刘备Liu Bei. Want to know what’s going on here? Keep reading and find out!

Why is he an SP character?
Just like the SP Sun Shang Xiang 孙尚香, SP Guan Yu was created for the completion of the whole Three Kingdoms’ story. This SP version is designed to represent Guan Yu’s life experience under Cao Cao 曹操’s military. In return for being treated respectfully after being captured by Cao Cao, Guan Yu fought for Cao Cao against Yuan Shao 袁绍 for a short while, and was very successful! So successful in fact that Cao Cao really wanted Guan Yu change his allegiance. Guan Yu, of course, refused because of his loyalty to Liu Bei. It was actually Cao Cao who gave him the title of Marquis of Han Shou whilst under his service. After some time Guan Yu left Cao Cao with nothing but his Red Hare and Green Dragon Crescent Blade, riding through thousands of miles to finally rejoin his brothers. This special experience also explains why he let Cao Cao escape after the huge loss at Battle of Red Cliffs 赤壁之战. For more info, just check Ricky’s write up of Guan Yu (蜀Shu) under the “Most famous achievement” section.

Character ability1: “Warrior Saint 武圣 (wǔ shèng)”
Every card with a “heart” or “diamonds” suit (effectively all red-suit cards) can be used as an ATTACK 杀card.

Character ability2: “Single Calvary 单骑(dān qí)” [Awakening ability] 
At the beginning of your turn, if your number of on-hand cards is larger than your current health units, AND the RULER for the game is Cao Cao, you must reduce your maximum health by 1 unit. You then permanently acquire the ability “Horsemanship 马术”

(Recall: Horsemanship 马术 = You will always have -1 distance in range calculations).

Additional info based on changes:
I guess it would really take some time for the players to get used to his new allegiance, because he cannot use ATTACK 杀 for Liu Bei any more! However, he can now react to both “Royal Escort” of Cao Cao and “Exalt the Powerful” of Cao Pi 曹丕.

Wiki Link:
- Guan Yu Wiki

How to obtain this character?
He is not available on SGS online yet. For obtaining a card, purchase ZYZ magazine issue #8 (August 2011).

Contributing Writer:
- Cherry Cat

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