Sun Tzu


What a wonderful surprise Sun Tzu was!

Sun Tzu is a two-player war game of area control, hand management, and bluffing. It’s psychological warfare in ancient China, with thematic The Art of War text on the cards.

I scored my copy last year in a math trade and I liked the theme and premise, but it collected dust before I finally got it off my Shelf of Shame, thanks to another meetup with my buddy Daryl.

In Sun Tzu each player attempts to control regions in ancient China by using cards numbered 1-6. These cards are part of players’ hands throughout the game, but they also receive special one-time use cards after each turn: the numbers 7-10 and modifier cards like +1, +2, and +3.

For each round cards are played face down for each region, then they’re revealed one at a time to resolve battles. For example, in the Qin region Player A plays a “3” and Player B plays a “5,” then Player B places the difference (2 armies) on the region and they now have control of Qin.

Each round is made up of playing cards and resolving battles. There are nine possible rounds to a game, with scoring after rounds 3, 6, and 9; however, if a player ever reaches the maximum 9 points after rounds 3 or 6, then the game immediately ends. This is the basic gist of Sun Tzu.

But there’s so much more.

The special one-time-use cards are fantastic elements added to gameplay. For example, if I was trying to gain control of a region that contained a lot of my opponent’s armies, then I could play my “10” and hope that my opponent played a low card. This would allow me to take some of their armies from the board and replace them with mine. However, if my opponent had played their “+1” card, then my “10” was all for naught. Their “+1” card basically negates my 10, since it’s used as a +1 to anything I played. Thus, my 10 is trumped by their 11 and they get to add 1 army to the region.

Another cool one-time-use card is the Plague card, which, when played, cancels the battle in the selected region. It also calls for half of the armies in the region to be taken off the board. Since armies are limited (each player begins with 18 in their reserve, with a few more available via certain card effects or actions), this is a good way to gather your forces for future turns.

There are also one-time-per-game Warlord cards that can be used at any time. During our last game Daryl busted out a Warlord card to tip the final region to his favor, which led to his single-point victory.

Finally, there are event cards that can trigger other changes to the game if their conditions are met at any time.

I’m ecstatic that I was able to get this off my Shelf of Shame; Sun Tzu is a tense battle of wits between two tabletop generals. It’s become one of my favorite two-player games and one that I highly recommend (for a more in-depth review, check out the review).

I’ve now played 6 of the 49 games on my Shelf of Shame!

Shelf of Shame 2017

  1. Agricola
  2. Amerigo
  3. Cheaty Mages!
  4. Chrononauts
  5. Cypher
  6. Dice City: By Royal Decree
  7. Dice City: Crossroads
  8. Doomtown: Reloaded
  9. Dungeon Fighter
  10. Eminent Domain: Microcosm
  11. Epic Card Game
  12. Formula D
  13. Get Bit! Sharkspansion
  14. Guildhall
  15. Guildhall: Job Faire
  16. Hanafuda
  17. Harbour
  18. Imperial Settlers
  19. Lost Legacy: Flying Garden
  20. Machi Koro: Harbor
  21. Marvel Dice Masters: Age of Ultron
  22. Mottainai
  23. Munchkin Legends: Guest Artist Edition
  24. Munchkin Zombies Deluxe
  25. NBA Interactive Card Game
  26. Ophidian 2350
  27. Pack of Heroes
  28. Pandemic: On The Brink
  29. Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords Base Set + Expansions
  30. Pingo Pingo
  31. Portobello Market
  32. Quiddler Mini Round
  33. Rampage
  34. Sail to India
  35. Sans Allies
  36. Santorini: Golden Fleece
  37. Seventh Hero (Doomtown edition)
  38. Space Base Mutiny
  39. Steam Torpedo: First Contact
  40. Suburbia
  41. Sun Tzu
  42. Tiny Epic Kingdoms
  43. Travel Blog
  44. Valley of the Kings: Last Rites
  45. Viceroy
  46. Vikings on Board
  47. Viticulture Essential Edition
  48. Wok Star
  49. Yahtzee: The Walking Dead Collector’s Edition


August Blog Challenge: Board Games



I haven’t written nearly enough this year (unless you count my news column at, so I’m kickstarting my blog with my Blog Every Day in August Challenge

Every day this month I’ll share thoughts and photos of board games and if I’m feeling particularly cheeky or inspired, I’ll write about other topics.

But it’s all about my favorite hobby this month.


My wife and I recently became HUGE fans of Trains; we’ve played it almost a dozen times since I bought it on Memorial Day weekend. I scored a like-new copy for only $10 thanks to a Facebook gaming group and I love the fact that it’s now cost less than a dollar per play.

Trains is a basically Dominion meets Ticket to Ride. It’s a deck builder with a map, so there’s some route laying mixed in with the card-playing. I was introduced to the game by one of my weekly gaming groups and after I’d played it the first time, I thought my wife would dig it. We’d enjoyed playing Dominion and Ticket to Ride together and after we played Trains for the first time, I knew we had a new favorite.

Pictured above is the Saitama map, which was a promo given out at Gen Con 2014 (and in turn given to us by a friend). I thought it was appropriate we played this one today in honor of our country’s biggest gaming convention happening later this week.


Day 365: We Did It!

I Blogged Every Day in 2015

I Blogged Every Day in 2015

In the words of Dora the Explorer, “We did it! We did it!”


There were times when I didn’t think I’d finish My Quest to Blog Every Day in 2015.

I thought it would’ve been easier to blog every day. All I had to do was set an alarm to remind me to write and then I’d write. As I found out, though, that isn’t how it works. There are so many things that life throws at you every day that prevent you from writing. I even had to fudge a little on Day 49.

As I wrote yesterday, I wish I would’ve created more substantial posts. When I began this quest, I knew a few of my favorite topics would pop up now and then: fantasy sports, Star Wars, food, movies, golf, my love of the city of Los Angeles, etc. I’m proud, though, that I was able to write about a few more subjects outside of those.

My blog was never meant to be hard-hitting journalism, but it was meant to reflect what was going on in my life and in my head at the time. I’d like to think that I accomplished that.

I’ve never done anything like this before, but I learned two things:

  1. I want to post regularly in 2016, but not every day.
  2. 2015 was the year I rediscovered my love of board games.

The board game thing was a pleasant surprise. I wrote about getting back into the hobby earlier this year which led me to buying more and more board games, digging up games I’d never played yet somehow held on to through the years, and playing games once a week with a local gaming group. My wife and I hosted a few game nights for family and friends and we had a blast talking trash to each other during our occasional one-on-one sessions of Ticket to Ride. And I parlayed my passion into a gig with the fine folks at, where I report board game news and bits.

Mainly through my interactions on Twitter about this blog, I’ve been able to have some great interactions with people I would never have met. I reconnected with some old friends and I even shared my blog with family members as well.

Of course, none of this would’ve been possible without the support of my wife. There were quite a few nights when she would doze off while I was typing away furiously, trying to get my thoughts down coherently before Mr. Sandman paid me a visit. Not only is Michelle my biggest supporter and the love of my life, but she’s my life partner and my favorite person to go on adventures with. I wrote about a few of those adventures here. Not surprisingly, it was one of my favorite posts of the year.

(To Michelle: thank you for your patience and understanding as I completed this silly little quest. I love you more than words can show.)

Finally, thank you, Dear Reader, for joining me for on my quest. I appreciate you taking the time to read my words and I hope you’ve enjoyed at least one of my posts this year. See you next year!

– Ruel

P.S. If you were entertained at all this year by My Quest to Blog Every Day in 2015 please consider doing one of two things:

  1. Donate to Visual Communications, “the first non-profit organization in the nation dedicated to the honest and accurate portrayals of the Asian Pacific American peoples, communities and heritage through the media arts.” I’m not affiliated with VC, but I do believe in their cause and donated to them on Giving Tuesday.
  2. Help me get my board game fix via my Amazon Wish List. I won’t tell anyone.

Day 296: Avatar

Ruel slays the dragon.

Ruel slays the dragon.

I wanted to give a shout-out to Derek of, the artist responsible for my avatar shown above. It’s how I’m identified at, where I write a weekly board game news column, and I’m starting to use it throughout my social media profiles.

My wife got a kick out of the image and I loved how it incorporated my lifelong love of Star Wars and my recent obsession with bow ties.

Check out Derek’s website for a lot of cool print-and-play downloads for your role-playing and board-gaming needs. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks again, Derek!

Day 271: I Slay the Dragon

I Slay the Dragon

I Slay the Dragon

This has been in the works for the past few weeks and I’m happy to announce that I’m now part of the team at, “a collaborative blog about games, gamers, and those who tolerate them (namely, gamers’ spouses and families.”

I’m captaining the helm of The Village Square, where you’ll find the latest and greatest board game news from the interwebs. My first column went up this morning and I’m excited to be working with such fine folk. Stop by the site and slay dragons with us, take on the Empire, and boldly go where no one has gone before!