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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Demi-God Zhào Yún 神赵云

Posted by Ricky Chua On 5:09 PM 39 comments
Translated description: 
"Aura of the Dragon 神威如龙 (shén wēi rú lóng)"

Why is he a Demi-God?
There are over 1000 characters in the ROTK story, some more prominent than others, yet most of them had their flaws. Let's focus only on warriors and generals and see whom we can think of. Lu Bu 吕布 was the strongest, but a simpleton through and through. Guan Yu 关羽 was well-respected, but his arrogance cost him his life. Zhang Fei 张飞 was a brutal fighter, but a reckless goon. Dian Wei 典韦 was fearsome, but died early. The list can go on and on... but one hero really stands out amongst them. He is none other than Zhao Yun.

Almost all the qualities you want to find in a general, Zhao Yun does not lack. Courage and fighting ability is his calling card, but so too is his loyalty and prudence. He served Liu Bei and Shu till a ripe old age, and throughout his long career his name rings fear together with deep respect in the hearts of his foes. But most amazing of all for that era, is his humility. Seldom the one for cockiness and reckless tirades, he makes Guan Yu and Zhang Fei appear like immature teens compared to his cool-head. If there was one general who can be crowned the strongest overall in the three kingdoms era, it would surely be Zhao Yun! The one with the aura of the Dragon!

Character ability 1: "Adversity 逆境 (nì jìng)" [Enforced ability] 
During the drawing phase, the number of cards you draw is equal to the health you have lost thus far plus 2. Your on-hand card limit will always be +2 more than usual.

Character ability 2: "Soul of the Dragon 龙魂"
You can use or play X cards with the same suit as the following:
"Hearts" as "PEACH 桃"
"Diamonds" as "ATTACK 杀" with fire attributes
"Clubs" as "DODGE 闪"
"Spades" as "NEGATE 无懈可击"
(X is the units of health you have currently. X has a minimum of 1.)

Ability's relation to story:
"Adversity" refers to Zhao Yun’s victories in battles that were seemingly impossible to win. The battle that is related to this Demi-God character the most is the Battle of ChangBan 长坂之战. For more details, click here to read the post on Zhao Yun. If you look carefully, you would see in the character portrait that Demi-God Zhao Yun has a baby slung across his chest. That baby is none other than Liu Shan 刘禅 and this portrait actually depicts Zhao Yun's incredible rescue of the baby from the Wei forces during the Chang Ban battle. Nice as the portrait is, the ability itself does not seem to relate much to any adversity he is facing. The little link available is that Zhao Yun can draw more cards as his situation (health) becomes more dire.

Incidentally, Demi-God Zhao Yun is given only 2 units of health. It makes me wonder if this has anything to do with Zhao Yun sustaining multiple wounds and injuries during his rescue of Liu Shan.

"Soul of the Dragon" is wordplay on Zhao Yun’s styled name, "子龙". The character "龙" means dragon. Obviously, the ability has little to do with his soul, or any of the situations in the story. It is just a cool-sounding title to a very power ability. Yet the mechanics of this ability can be argued to have been created in the unofficial packs. The unofficial Zhang Jiao 张角 already featured an ability very similar to "Soul of the Dragon", albeit Zhang Jiao's ability was retardedly overpowered. Of course, you could say that it all began with Yuan Shao 袁绍's ability.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Since all 8 "normal" characters of the Hills Pack has been translated, the Characters and Expansions tabs have been duly updated. You can now browse the tabs to search for these characters.

I have also re-shuffled the Expansions tab such that it is in reverse chronological order. Which means the expansion pack that is on the top of that page would be the Hills Pack, followed by the OKF pack, etc.

Hope you readers are enjoying your Hills Expansions massively!

Have fun & 杀!

Demi-God Sīmǎ Yì 神司马懿

Posted by Ricky Chua On 1:23 PM 25 comments
Translated description:
"The Founder of Jin Empire 晋国之祖 (jìn guó zhī zhǔ)"

Why is he a Demi-God:
Why not?! You are talking about the overall winner of the entire era! This is the man who played the Cao family like a puppet-master, read Zhuge Liang 诸葛亮’s mind like nobody else could, had a sleeve full of tricks to deceive everyone, and eventually had his children and grandchildren conquer all of China.

How amazing is Sima Yi? Well according to some legends, Sima Yi was one of the disciples of the mysterious Sima Hui 司马徽, who was also the teacher of Zhuge Liang and Guo Jia 郭嘉. It was said that Sima Yi was the youngest of all his disciples, but the most able and cunning. This legend was never corroborated, of course, and even Sima Yi's entrance into Cao Cao 曹操's service is disputed. But his wit, intellect, and management ability was on par with, if not beyond, those of Zhuge Liang. The two arch-rivals won and lost battles against each other and both had a lot of respect for the other. In the greater scheme of things, though, Zhuge Liang lost out to Sima Yi because his allegiance and integrity to Shu made him overwork himself to death. Sima Yi, on the other hand, seemed to handle his live and work with greater ease and he lived to a much older age.

Whether you think he is pure evil or simply utilitarian, there really is no denying this old man his undisputed title as victor of the Three Kingdoms!

Character ability 1: "Restraint 忍戒 (rěn jiè)" [Enforced ability]
For every 1 unit of damage you receive or every 1 card you discard during your discard phase, you receive a “Restraint 忍” token.

Character ability 2: "Promotion 拜印 (bài yìn)" [Awakening ability]
At the start of your turn, if you have 4 or more Restraint tokens, you must reduce your maximum health by 1 unit, and you permanently acquire the ability "Extreme Tactic 极略". (Discard a Restraint token to execute one of the following abilities: "Demonic Talent 鬼才", "Banish into Exile 放逐", "Unmitigated Murder 完杀", "Balance of Power 制衡" or "Assembling Wisdom 集智")

(Recall:
Demonic Talent (Sima Yi) - Change judgement card
Banish into Exile (Cao Pi) - Flip character card
Unmitigated murder (Jia Xu) - Peach can't save others
Balance of Power (Sun Quan) - Change cards on-hand/equipped
Assembling Wisdom (Huang Yueying) - Draw 1 card when use a Tool card)

Character ability 3: "Domino Victory 连破 (lián pò)"
If you kill one or more players within your turn, once your turn ends, you get to play an extra turn.

Ability's relation to story:
The chinese words "忍戒" comes from the Chinese phrase "用忍戒急 (Restrain yourself from hasty actions)". In military campaigns, Sima Yi was famed for restraining himself and his forces against enemy taunts. He insisted on waiting for the right moment to strike. Probably the most famous of such a scenario happened at the Battle of Wu Zhang Plains 五丈原之战, where Zhuge Liang sent Sima Yi women's clothings as an insult, calling Sima Yi a woman for not daring to meet his forces in battle. Sima Yi ignored the taunt and eventually prevailed after Zhuge Liang fell deathly exhausted. It is an apt ability, where the Restraint tokens are a tangible form of that "little black book" to scrawl in grievances!

In politics, he hid his ambition for decades and instead served the Wei kingdom. He eventually got the promotion "拜印", which was a traditional ritual for the appointment of generals. Insidiously, however, the cunning Sima Yi was coiled up and waiting to strike. When the right moment came, he would perform “Consecutive Aggresion”, eliminating his enemies quickly and in quick succession. One example was when Gongsun Yuan 公孙渊 rebelled against the Wei kingdom, Sima Yi was sent to crush him. Despite Gongsun Yuan's defenses, Sima Yi overpowered him. Sima Yi set up a fake camp to attract his attention, and sent his troops to strike at the right moment. He won three consecutive battles and eventually killed Gongsun Yuan and his sons when they attempted to flee.

The reasoning behind the five abilities included in "Extreme strategies" are:
"Demonic Talent"---that’s his signature move.
"Banish into Exile"---it was Cao Pi who promoted him
"Unmitigated Murder"---he was a shrewd strategist like Jia Xu, and his strategy was deadly.
"Balance of Power"---a genius at politics, he weakened Shu and Wu by utilizing Wei forces, and the invasions of Shu and Wu forced Wei to promote him, allowing Sima family to become more powerful.
"Assembling Wisdom"---he was not a lone strategist, and his comrade often gave him advice of tactics, although he was better

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jiāng Wéi 姜维

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:47 PM 21 comments
Translated description:
“The Protégé of the Dragon 龙的衣钵 (lóng dè yī bō)”

Who is he:
He was to be the ultimate general. Said to have the charisma of Liu Bei 刘备, wisdom of Zhuge Liang 诸葛亮 and fighting ability of Zhao Yun 赵云, Jiang Wei was the only remaining hope for Shu in the dying days of the kingdom. Yet, as history would tell us, Shu was the first of the two major powers to be exterminated, what more while Jiang Wei was General-in-chief. What happened? While many would point to the incapable ruler Liu Shan 刘禅 who did not give Jiang Wei the support he needed, Jiang Wei himself was criticized as being reckless and single-minded. Nonetheless, Jiang Wei was a brilliant general that would truly have done Shu a lot of good had he been born 20 years earlier whilst Zhuge Liang and Liu Bei were still in power. Ultimately, Jiang Wei would be forced to surrender to Wei under instruction from Liu Shan, but his fighting spirit and loyalty would not be extinguished! He would go on to plan a grand coup that would have revived Shu, yet he died in the process. What happened? Read on to find out!

Character ability 1: “Taunt 挑衅 (tiǎo xìn)”
During the action phase, you can pick a player that is able to strike you using ATTACK 杀. That player must use an ATTACK on you. If the player does not do so, you can discard one of his/her card. Limited to once per turn.

Character ability 2: “Recommence the Legacy 志继 (zhì jì)” [Awakening ability]
At the start of your turn, if you have no on-hand cards, you must regain 1 unit of health or draw 2 cards, then reduce your maximum health by 1 unit, and permanently acquire the ability “Star Gazing 观星”.

(Note: "Star Gazing" is Elder Zhuge Liang's ability where he can view the top few cards of the deck at the start of his turn)

Ability's relation to story:
Before Jiang Wei became the leading General of Shu, he was under the command of Fei Yi 费祎. Jiang Wei recommended taking up the offensive against the Wei Kingdom like Zhuge Liang once did, but Fei Yi was dead against the idea. Instead Fei Yi sent Jiang Wei to harass the Wei forces numerous times at the border, probably as a reminder that Shu forces are not sitting idle. This is probably the relation to the ability “Taunt”, and the ability mechanics, though simple, seem well-crafted to suit the ability title.

“Recommence the Legacy” refers to Jiang Wei being seen as Zhuge Liang's most able apprentice, then carrying on his work and aspirations after Zhuge Liang's death. In this aspect, the ability mechanics is a perfect fit. After he is "awakened", Jiang Wei actually takes on the ability of Zhuge Liang and can "Star Gaze" to tell the future. In reality, though, Jiang Wei did not seem to inherit Zhuge Liang's god-like abilities. Furthermore, there is actually a gap in the story since Jiang Wei was never actually Zhuge Liang's disciple. Perhaps the actions taken by Jiang Wei to honor Zhuge Liang's wishes earned him that nickname.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - The coup that almost saved Shu Kingdom. Once the incapable Liu Shan 刘禅 surrendered, Jiang Wei was also forced to surrender to Zhong Hui 钟会, the rival of Deng Ai 邓艾. Jiang Wei insidiously suggested to Zhong Hui that animosity be conjured between Deng Ai and the defacto Wei ruler, Sima Zhao 司马昭. The plan was successful initially because Zhong Hui himself was ambitious, albeit deluded, and planned to rule all of Wei. The cunning Jiang Wei sat on the bylines and watched as Zhong Hui forged letters that slandered Deng Ai to Sima Zhao. Eventually, Sima Zhao seemingly fell for the ploy and order Deng Ai be captured and executed.

2. Cause of Death - Killed in the ensuing chaos. Sima Zhao was not as naive as Zhong Hui and Jiang Wei expected. Whilst a force was sent to arrest Deng Ai, another secret force was directed personally by Sima Zhao himself, headed straight for Zhong Hui. Zhong Hui knew that Sima Zhao had seen through his plan and had come to crush any new-found power Zhong Hui had at his disposal. The prudent Jiang Wei quickly advised Zhong Hui to kill all the key officers and stake a rebellion but Zhong Hui was slow to act. Once their own officers knew that Zhong Hui planned to exterminate them, all hell broke loose and in the carnage, both Zhong Hui and Jiang Wei were killed.

Wiki Link:
Jiang Wei Wiki

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Liú Shàn 刘禅

Posted by Ricky Chua On 6:14 PM 22 comments
Translated description:
"The King with a Laissez-faire Destiny 无为的真命主 (wú wéi dè zhēn mìng zhǔ)"

Who is he:
Likely one of the most despised characters in the entire era, Liu Shan is the son and successor of Liu Bei 刘备. He took over the reins of the Shu Kingdom from an early age of 16 (the year that Liu Bei died), and is infamous for his inability as a ruler... or at least that is what the story wants us to think. There was a huge chunk of history missing between the years Liu Shan first ruled Shu till the fall of the kingdom 40 years later. In the absence of recorded facts, myths and rumours have not been kind to Liu Shan and painted a picture of an indulgent and indecisive ruler. Ultimately, the kingdom of Shu so painstakingly created by Liu Bei, Zhuge Liang 诸葛亮 and gang, was destroyed during Liu Shan's reign. Legend has it that Liu Shan's intellect was compromised when his own father threw the baby Liu Shan on the ground! Why would Liu Bei do such a thing? Read on to find out!

Character ability 1: "Relish 享乐 (xiǎng lè)" [Enforced ability]
Whenever other player targets an ATTACK 杀 at you, he/she must discard a basic card, or that ATTACK has no effect on you.

Character ability 2: "Devolution 放权 (fàng quán)"
You can skip your action phase. If you do so, you can discard an on-hand card at the end of your turn and let another player go an extra turn.

Character ability 3: "Eiron 若愚" [Ruler ability] [Awakening ability] 
At the start of your turn, if your health is the least or among the least, you must raise your maximum health by 1 unit, regain 1 unit of health and permanently acquire get the ability "Rouse 激将".

(Note: "Rouse" is Liu Bei's Ruler ability, where Shu characters can use an ATTACK on his behalf.)

Ability's relation to story:
"Relish" refers to Liu Shan’s lifestyle. Liu Shan was interested in playing and having fun, but never in politics. He continued to relish his material wealth and abundance even after the downfall of Shu. However, some say his indulgent lifestyle was all just a ploy to keep him away from danger. Even though he was captured by Wei forces, he was given nobility in Wei's courts and allowed to enjoy his final years in peace. The mechanics of this ability cleverly shields Liu Shan from ATTACKS, allowing him (you) to stay safe and happy.

"Devolution" refers to his political strategies. He allowed his trusted officials to handle all state affairs, regardless of their capability. When he gave the power to wise people like Zhuge Liang and Jiang Wei 姜维, the Shu kingdom was efficient and strong. However, it proved to be a mistake to give such powers to Huang Hao 黄皓, the corrupt and incapable eunuch who Liu Shan trusted. The Shu kingdom quickly became chaotic, and ultimately crumbled. The game mechanics allows Liu Shan to "devolute" his action phase, granting an extra turn to another player that you trust. Don't make the same mistake as Liu Shan! Watch out for the defectors!

"Eiron" is interesting. It comes from the Chinese phrase “大智若愚 (still-water runs deep, or the smartest people usually seems the dumbest)”. Although Liu Shan was thought to be an incompetent leader, some historians thought he was just feinting the fool. When Liu Bei was still alive, Zhuge Liang praised Liu Shan as benevolent, clever and receptive. Some historians also believe that when Sima Zhao 司马昭 invited him to a banquet (the banquet that became the basis of ACEDIA 乐不思蜀), Liu Shan played the fool without ambition so as to protect himself. Sadly, whether he really was a fool or a cunning actor, we will never know. In this game ability, however, Liu Shan need not feign the fool forever, but can unveil his disguise as a powerful leader as capable as Liu Bei.

Additional info based on story:
1. Most famous achievement - Losing his "brain cells" when Liu Bei tossed him. Ok perhaps that's not exactly an achievement, but it's still very significant in popular folklore. At the battle of Chang Ban 长板之战, Zhao Yun 赵云 risked life and limb to rescue the baby Liu Shan from Wei forces. When Liu Bei saw the wounds that his beloved general suffered to save his son, Liu Bei tossed his baby to the ground and proclaimed "To preserve that suckling I very nearly lost a great general!" It is said that Liu Shan suffered a concussion as a result of Liu Bei's over-drama, and hence became "stupid" for the rest of his life.

2. Cause of death - Old age. After living in captivity in Wei, Liu Shan never did think much about his own kingdom that he lost. All he seemed to care about was living a carefree life and having ample play-time. Thus Liu Shan was never again regarded as a threat and he was left to while away his remaining 8 years of his life under soft-captivity. He was aptly given the title "The Duke of Peace and Comfort 安乐公". Because of this, he has become almost synonymous with the sin of Acedia. He was aged 64 when he died.

Wiki Link:
Liu Shan Wiki

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Zuǒ Cí 左慈

Posted by Ricky Chua On 4:53 PM 33 comments
Translated description:
"The Mystical Immortal 迷之仙人 (mí zhī xiān rén)"

Who is he:
Ever watched "X-Men" the movie? Remember the villain femme fatale known as "Mystique"? Well, here's the SGS version of Mystique! Without doubt one of the most interesting but controversial characters in SGS, Zuo Ci is currently the most popular character in the Hills Expansion Pack. But who is the real Zuo Ci, and why does he have X-Men like abilities? Alas, that question is very difficult to answer!

In the information available about Zuo Ci, be it on Wikipedia or on sites about Chinese "history", Zuo Ci has very little factual information left today. Whatever facts there are, they are diluted in the vast quantities of myth that surround this strange old man. For example, Zuo Ci was said to have lived to 300 (!) years old, and can walk through walls. There! See?? David Copperfield was not the first to walk through the Great Wall after all!!

Character ability 1: "Shapeshift 化身 (huà shēn)"
After everyone has selected their character cards, you select two unused character cards randomly from the deck. Select one of these two characters and place it before you, then state one of that character's abilities (excluding Single-use ability, awakening ability and ruler ability). You will obtain the stated ability, the allegiance, and the gender of this character until you have replaced it. At the beginning and end of each turn, you can replace the character with another character and/or re-state another ability.

Character ability 2: "Germinate 新生 (xīn shēng)"
For every 1 unit of damage you receive, you can acquire another new character card for "Shapeshift".

Ability's relation to story:
A wonderful link to the story... err... myth. Zuo Ci was said to wield the ability to shapeshift into anything. According to both historical texts and ROTK, he used this ability to escape from Cao Cao 曹操. When Cao Cao sent his troops to arrest Zuo Ci, he concealed himself among a flock of sheep. The game mechanics allowed the immortal to "shapeshift" as other characters, using their abilities freely in the game. To learn more about Zuo Ci's strange abilities, read my previous post on Mystic Cipher.

The phrase "新生" literally means “new life” in Chinese. It was said that he told his apprentice that he would make a mystical potion in the mountains, and he left this world as an immortal afterwards. However, the game mechanics do not grant Zuo Ci the ability to resurrect like Pang Tong, but he can get a new form to shapeshift instead. For this reason, this ability was initially translated as "Metamorphosis", to show the ability of “getting a new form” while suiting the literal meaning. On the other hand, I felt that the game creator was alluding to the biological ability to regenerate and grow. I think of it as chopping a leech in two, then ending up with two live leeches instead, double the trouble! Thus I translated this ability as "Germinate" instead.

Additional info based on story:
Most famous achievement - Teasing Cao Cao with his sorcery, which forms the basis of this character's ability. Zuo Ci was said to be able to transform into sheep, or into any other person on the street. Eat that David Blaine!!

Cause of death - Unknown. Perhaps he isn't dead. He's supposed to be immortal... right? *Eyes that sheep in the zoo suspiciously*

Wiki Link:
Zuo Ci Wiki

Dèng Ài 邓艾

Posted by Ricky Chua On 3:19 PM 19 comments
Translated description:
"The Staunch Warrior 矫然的壮士 (jiǎo rán dè zhuàng shì)"

Who is he:
There were many pairs of arch-nemeses throughout the Three Kingdoms era between Wei and Shu Kingdoms. In the early days, there were the two most famous loggerheads, Cao Cao 曹操 and Liu Bei 刘备. In wit and cunning, there were Zhuge Liang 诸葛亮 and Sima Yi 司马懿. In the later days as the era was coming to an end, there were the final two, Jiang Wei 姜维 and Deng Ai 邓艾.

Deng Ai was not your typical military general. With a background in agriculture and geography, most would have thought him suitable as a master-farmer than a leading general of the time. But Deng Ai proved to the world that he was no broccoli cropper. Matching his arch-enemy Jiang Wei wit for wit, Deng Ai held back the Shu forces who were bent on clawing into Wei territory. As the disagreements behind the Shu frontlines escalated, Deng Ai conducted the equivalent of Guerilla Warfare in Ancient China and went deep behind enemy lines, but the mountain passes that lay in his path were insurmountable! Did Deng Ai ultimately succeed in striking the heart of the Shu Kingdom? Read on the find out!

Character ability 1: "Amassing Terrain 屯田 (tún tián)"
Every instance that you lose card(s) (on-hand or equipped) outside your turn, you can flip a judgement card. If the judgement is not the suit of "hearts", you can put the judgement card (referred to as "Terrain") atop your character card. Every "Terrain" that you amass, your physical distance to other players decreases by -1.

(Trivia: 屯田 is the agricultural policy practiced by Cao Cao, sending soldiers and refugees to distant lands, so as to boost the economy and provide supplies to the military. The actual meaning of 屯田 can be translated as "Growing Wheat", "Agricultural strategies" or simply "Cultivation")

Character ability 2: "Conduit 凿险 (záo xiǎn)" [Awakening Ability]
At the beginning of your turn, if you have more than or equal to 3 "Terrains", you must reduce your maximum health by 1 unit. You will  then permanently acquire the ability "Blitz 急袭" (In the action phase, you can use any of your "Terrains" as STEAL 顺手牵羊)

Ability's relation to story:
In his younger days, Deng Ai is an official of agriculture, and he was promoted for his talent of agricultural affairs. With more farmlands be developed, he can reach his enemies more easily, due to the steady supply of food and land clearance. Thus the ability "Amassing Terrain" is quite apt for this character, and the mechanics also seems to provide the related advantage. The only issue, though, is that there is no relation between losing cards (or possessions) to how Deng Ai actually increases his territory in the story. Still, a good match nonetheless!

"Conduit" refers to his achievement of constructing canals for the Huai River (淮河). Near the end of the Three Kingdoms era, Sima Yi planned to cultivate the bank of the Huai river, and he sent Deng Ai for this mission. With a good head for geography, Deng Ai advised that canals should be constructed for irrigation, and the result was sensational! Through this success, Deng Ai leap-frogged his way into important official appointments for the Wei Kingdom. In a way, this does mirror the "awakening" of Deng Ai in the story.

"Blitz" refers to his campaign against the Shu Kingdom. He led his forces over the impassable mountains of Sichuan 四川 and struck deep in the heart of the Shu Kingdom, Cheng Du 成都. Nobody was able too foresee that Deng Ai would strike from the mountains, since those mountains have served as a natural defense for Cheng Du for centuries. The Shu Emperor at the time, Liu Shan 刘禅, was forced to surrender, and that marked the beginning of the end for the Kingdom so laboriously created by Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang. For the mechanics of this ability, there does not seem to be any direct link between being able to "steal" and the sneak attack on Cheng Du. They weren't thieves; they were fighers! It does make sense, though, for STEAL to be the tool card of choice since the physical distance advantage is, by far, most useful for stealing.

Additional info based on story:
Most famous achievement - Eliminating the Shu Kingdom. How's THAT for an accomplishment on a resume? Though Deng Ai does take a lot of credit (and Liu Shan a lot of the flak) for the fall of Shu, there was one other critical person behind the scenes who was giving Liu Shan ill-advice. That person was Huang Hao 黄皓, the corrupt and worthless official that peppered Liu Shan with flattery and ill-wisdom. The story says that Huang Hao was executed by Wei troops as even the enemy did not want such a worm, but historically his death  was never written. Legend says that he managed to escape execution by bribing the Wei soldiers.

Cause of death - Killed in a coup d'état planned by Jiang Wei. After the surrender of Liu Shan, Jiang Wei falsely surrendered to Zhong Hui 钟会, the ambitious rival of Deng Ai. They defamed Deng Ai and caused Deng Ai and his son to be imprisoned. Although the coup de’tat was unsuccessful, Deng Ai and his son were killed by the prison keeper, fearing the vengeance of Deng Ai’s troops once Deng Ai is freed.

Wiki Link:
Deng Ai Wiki

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cài Wén Jī (Lady Cai) 蔡文姬

Posted by Ricky Chua On 5:42 PM 26 comments
Translated description:
"The Lone Dame in Foreign Lands 异乡的孤女 (yì xiāng dè gū nǚ)"

Who is she:
Like a scene out of a Chinese horror movie, a lone damsel sits in the night out in the woods, strumming an ancient Chinese string instrument. Her long straight hair gently swaying along with the willows, her sharp face pale, white and mournful. Who is Lady Cai? What is her role in the story? Truth be told, the name Cai Wen Ji was complete new to me when I heard about this character in the Hills Pack. As it turns out, she was a very minor character, a musician and poet, but with a sad life story. Married at the age of 15 but widowed soon after, she was then held captive by the Xiong Nu 匈奴 clan chieftain for many years. He then made her his wife and she bore him children, but her heart had always yearned for home. It would be 12 years later before a particular famous warlord ransomed her... but only to fulfill his own agenda. This warlord would go on to become one of the most famous person throughout Chinese history. Who was this warlord? Read on the find out!

Character ability 1: "Dirge 悲歌 (bēi gē)"
Every instance a player suffers damage from an ATTACK, you can discard a card (on-hand or equipped), and the player who suffered the damage flips a judgement card.

If the judgement is "hearts", the victim regains 1 unit of health.
If the judgement is "diamonds", the victim draws 2 cards.
If the judgement is "clubs", the attacker discards 2 cards.
If the judgement is "spades", the attacker flips his/her character card over.

Character ability 2: "Sorrow 断肠 (duan chang)" [Enforced ability]
The player who kills you loses all of his/her character abilities until the end of the game.

Ability's relation to story:
The ability mechanics do not have a direct link to the story, but the names of the abilities do. Both "Dirge" and "Sorrow" relates to the life of Lady Cai. After being imprisoned by the Xiongnu nomads, she composed a series of famous musical pieces known as the "Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute 胡笳十八拍". Later in her life, she wrote some poems with a sorrowful tone, lamenting her turbulent life. See? What did I tell you? The perfect character for a sorrowful female apparition!

Additional info based on story:
Most famous achievement - Composing poems and pieces of music. Lady Cai was a talented poet and musician. After her unfortunate capture by Xiongnu nomads, she composed "Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute", a sorrowful song in the style of nomadic tunes.

It was 12 years later that she was ransomed Cao Cao 曹操, yet Cao Cao did so for his own objectives. She was to a become a pacifier to the spirits for her clan, as by that time Lady Cai was the last surviving member. Even then, Lady demonstrated her memory and was able to recite about four hundred of her father’s lost works of poem and songs.

Cause of death - Unknown. There has been no record of her death, but her legacy lives on. Almost 500 years later, a series of paintings were commissioned by the first emperor of the Song Dynasty called "Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute". It is said that some fragments of these 18 paintings survive till this day in Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Wiki Link:
Cai Wenji Wiki
Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute

Thursday, August 11, 2011

After many months as a literal "BlogShop", I have decided to revamp the whole site into a new E-commerce site known as...

SINO-GAMES.COM

There have been a few recent new products such as:

1. Hills Pack

2. Official SGS Card Sleeves/Protectors

3. Shiny Cards set (which, sadly, nobody bid for on eBay)

4. The "Final" Pack - which is the COMPLETE official SGS gameset with all expansions and a few additional free gifts as well.

5. The special Dong Zhuo health card with 8 or 9 units of health


Also in the pipeline is the beginning works for the very popular card game Feng Sheng 风声, based on the movie with the same name. Feng Sheng will be on sale on Sino-Games.com very soon!

Thanks for all your support! And hope to see you continuing to support Sino-Games.com!

Have fun and 杀!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Zhāng Hé 张郃

Posted by Ricky Chua On 10:59 PM 27 comments
Translated description:
The Military Clairvoyant 料敌机先 (liào dí jī xiān)

Who is he:
There are those who analyze volumes of data before they can predict the future, and then there are those talents who only need to follow their gut instinct. Zhang He was one of those talents, and his predictions were sometimes more accurate than the scholarly military advisers. Widely regarded as one of the five most elite generals in the Wei Kingdom 魏国, Zhang He stood shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Xu Chu 许褚, Zhang Liao 张辽 and Xu Huang 徐晃 just to name three. But some say Zhang He was the most outstanding amongst all five elites. His military career spanned a staggering 47 years and his military predictions outdid even the infamous Sima Yi 司马懿.

For a taste of his abilities, Zhang He crushingly defeated one of Shu Kingdom 蜀国's strongest generals and sent Zhuge Liang weeping as this defeat general of his was to be executed. Does this story ring a bell?

Character ability: “Flexibility 巧变 (qiǎo biàn)”
You can discard one one-hand card to skip one of your phases (excluding beginning phase and ending phase).

If you skip your drawing phase using this method, you draw 1 on-hand card from a maximum of two other players.

If you skip your action phase using this method, you can relocate a card (in the equipment area or in the pending judgement area) from its original location to another identical location.
(e.g. relocating a weapon from Player A’s equipment area to Player B’s equipment area, or relocating the ACEDIA that is pending judgement from Player A’s pending area to Player B’s pending area).

Ability's relation to story:
This ability seems to relate strongly to the word "Flexibility" instead of how it applies to Zhang He. The phrase “巧变” comes from the description “张郃以巧变为称 (Zhang He was famed for his flexibility)”, and suits the historical Zhang He in two ways. Firstly, Zhang He was able to predict his enemies’ moves, and use various tactics to defeat them. Secondly, he served multiple warlords before he joined the Wei forces, so he was “flexible” in terms of allegiance. Yet it seems that neither these are very congruent to the ability in this character card. No matter. We're still glad that his abilities make him a huge asset to any team!

Additional info based on story:
Most famous achievement - Defeating Ma Su 马谡 in the Battle of Jie Ting 街亭之战. As an experienced general, Zhang He found out the fatal mistake of Ma Su easily. He cut off Ma Su’s troops from the water supply, and he defeated Ma Su's thirsty force easily. By conquering Jie Ting, Zhuge Liang 诸葛亮's strategy was upended... and boy was he pissed! As a consequence, Ma Su had to be executed by Zhuge Liang for that huge defeat.

Cause of death - Struck by an arrow in Mumen Trail 木门道. When Zhuge Liang retreated in his fourth expedition to the North, Zhang He pursued the Shu troops under the order of Sima Yi 司马懿. Zhang He had warned Sima Yi that an ambush by the Shu forces was very likely, but Sima Yi urged Zhang He to press on. Tragically, Zhang He was right. When he entered the narrow pass in Mumen Trail, the Shu troops set off their ambush and Zhang He was struck by a crossbow to his right knee. He died from that wound, possibly due to inflammation.

Wiki link:
Zhang He Wiki

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rare!! "Rainbow" Shiny Card Set up for Bid

Posted by Ricky Chua On 8:56 PM 2 comments
This REALLY did take a long time to put together.

If you ever wondered how cool it would be to have all your character cards as the shiny foil cards, here's your solution...

... well... half of a solution.

You see, this set of shiny cards are of the characters in the Original Pack only. The only other expansion pack that I can put together is the Wind Expansion, but the Fire and Woods pack characters are exponentially more difficult to collect!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hills Pack 山包 Expansion Pre-Order!

Posted by Ricky Chua On 9:35 PM 4 comments
I know you can't wait. The Hills Pack will be arriving by this weekend, but already i've been inundated with order requests.

There's nothing worse than waiting all this while, only to have the item run-out-of-stock before you get your hands on it. Therefore to be fair, I'm opening up this PRE-ORDER option for eager buyers.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE place your orders here instead of mailing me, because this is the only way I can assure you that I will not lose track of that favor you asked of me.

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