Kayou’s The Three Kingdoms was an incredible set of trading cards. Full art on every card, beautiful foil and refraction treatments. You can even learn something about that important cultural time in China’s history by researching the cards. But… what if we could use those amazing cards to re-enact the actual battles that took place? Well Kayou seems to have that same idea, whether their implementation is any good is another story. Let’s take a closer look at their new The Three Kingdoms TCG.
Table of Contents
The Box and Set
I’m combining the box review and the set breakdown since we all know what these boxes look like at this point right? There is one oddity here, it’s a 3-yuan box, the only other place we’ve seen that is in Camon’s SCP Foundation “Yellow Box” which I did an unboxing video on earlier. Other than that this feels like a standard 1-yuan box. So Kayou is just increasing the base price from 1 to 3, I guess that’s a sign of inflation starting to hit China.
As a 1-yuan-like release, the box is not as amazing as say the Star Wars or Chainsaw Man boxes. Still it does have some really nice foil treatment on it, even the packs have two layers of printing. There are 36 packs in each box of Three Kingdoms TCG, each with 6 cards. That’s a bit of a lie as one of those 6 will always be a small rules card with the rarity system on the back, so you will end up with 30 copies of that card.
The back of the box is packed with information, as all the recent Kayou releases have been. This is extremely helpful as you get both a set breakdown and pack odds without having to dig around the internet for a flier.
From that we see that this set contains 158 unique cards with 9 levels of rarity. This game is steeped in Chinese culture so the translations of these rarity levels are not as straightforward as R, SR, SSR. Instead they are like types of cards. Helpfully, Kayou includes a level system for each type telling you the approximate rarity and therefore strength of those cards. I’ve translated that all here as best I could:
L1 兵卒卡 (Soldier Card) 40
L2 精說卡 (Essay Card) 18
L3 群英卡 (Champions Card) 45
L4 章回卡 (Chapter Card) 20
L4 城池卡 (City Card) 9
L4 萌将卡 (Cute Card) 5
L4 神器卡 (Artifact Card) 9
L5 对决卡 (Duel Card) 8
L5 英杰卡 (Hero Card) 4
The levels increase as rarity increases so L1 is least rare, common cards – while L5 is the most rare and powerful cards. We’ve also got pack odds, which I’ll translate below:
16:36 — 2 兵卒卡(Soldier Card) +2 精锐卡(Essay Card) +1 群英卡(Champions Card)
16:36 — 2 兵卒卡(Soldier Card) +1 精锐卡(Essay Card) +1 群英卡(Champions Card) +1 章回卡(Chapter Card) OR 城池卡(City Card)
4:36 — 2 兵卒卡(Soldier Card) +1 精锐卡(Essay Card) +1 群英卡(Champions Card) +1 萌将卡(Cute Card) OR 神器卡(Artifact Card) OR 对决卡(Duel Card) OR 英杰卡(Hero Card)
The way you read that is as the number of packs with that configuration in a box of 36, on average. So on average you can expect a box like this one to contain 16 packs in configuration 1, 16 in configuration 2 and just 4 in that third configuration. Notice that you can only get the top rarity cards in that last configuration, meaning an entire box is likely to have only 4 rare cards in it. Still this is a TCG and dupes are as bad here as you may want them for your deck.
Three Kingdoms TCG Rules
As you can see these are true TCG cards, with proper framing, some flavor text for this unit and that great artwork. This is the same artwork as you’ll find in the 10-yuan box, but scaled down and fit into this framing design. Let’s take a look at what the various things on this card mean by translating a portion of the rules sheet. Oh yeah, each box comes with complete Three Kingdoms TCG rules!
I’ve annotated that image with a possible translation. Mandarin to English is always challenging, for example what I translated as “Tactics”, 武力值, is literally “Force Value”. This is the same “wu” as in “WuShu” kung-fu. In the context of a military battle I though that “Tactics” was a better translation, especially since many of these units would not be directly fighting, but rather leading larger armies. So how do you actually play then?
There isn’t room to annotate that entire image but it really isn’t too complicated. First both players, blue and red, sit on opposite sides of a table. They deploy their chosen city cards to the center, these are purely decorative – the rules literally say “Deploy whatever you feel like here”. They both would need to have 20 card decks prepared. There are no restrictions on what can be in the deck, or how many copies. Shuffle your deck and draw five cards.
Still you don’t want to just pack your deck with high power cards, remember that “Military Value”? The number in the upper left of all the soldier and artifact cards? Next you will deploy cards from your hand onto the three spaces at your side of the board. The cards deploy face down, you can deploy as many cards as you have in your hand. The only catch is the total military value of all your cards cannot be greater than 15. Artifact cards must be attached to a specific soldier.
Ok got all that? Now do rock-paper-scissors to see who decides the comparison value for this round, tactics or intelligence. Then flip the cards, add up both sides total value (the RPS winner picked which value to use remember?) – highest value wins. Ties are settled via RPS again. The winner gets to take the opponents cards into their deck. Shuffle, draw 5 more cards and play another round. If a player wins two successive battles in a row – they win the game.
Three Kingdoms TCG Cards
I won’t talk too much about the cards, you can see three more examples up there. They look great, the artwork is fantastic. The foil treatments on these is dialed down quite a bit from the 10-yuan cards though, expect more foil overlays and less custom refraction texture work. Still there is a good variety here and not knowing whether you will need to compare tactics or intelligence in any given battle adds a nice layer of strategy to the game.
That card above is not from the 10-yuan box. I pulled that from one of the 3-yuan packs, this is an L4 “City” card. It doesn’t really do anything in the gameplay other than set the theme of a given battle. These cards look awesome, exact same quality as the 10-yuan cards, and great treatments too! I suspect that the higher L4 and L5 cards are also impressive, but I didn’t pull any yet.
So there we have it, Kayou’s latest attempt at a TCG. This feels really similar to Marvel Hero Battle, I haven’t translated all those rules yet but I do have my starter kits now. It’s not the most complex TCG in the world, certainly no Magic the Gathering, but having some light gameplay to go along with this awesome looking cards is a nice bonus! I’m really excited to see where Kayou takes this in future released, will we see 5 and 10 yuan TCG releases in the future? I hope so!