In spite of being rather abstract, almost all mechanics are based on the theme of the game:
The Warring States. Let's start with the states themselves.
The Warring States
The twelve states of the game are based on some of the actual
Jin 晉, Yan 燕, Qin 秦, Zhongshan 顧, Qi 齊, Shu 蜀, Zhou 周, Song 宋, Wu 吳, Ba 巴, Chu 楚 , and Yue 越.
Only the names have been used while any economic, political, geographical and other characteristics
have been ignored since there are mechanical differences between the states in the game.
Five of the most prominent states are selected as dynasties or player colors: Jin 晉, Yan 燕, Qin 秦,
Qi 齊, and Chu 楚. Their characteristics have been described by Master Wu and used in the game as
the unique abilities of each dynasty.
The Yan (Defensive) are a sincere and straightforward people. They act prudently, love courage and esteem righteousness while rarely employing deception. Thus they excel in defensive positions, but are immobile and inflexible.
The Qi (Offensive) are unyielding and their country prosperous. Qi's army is arrayed with their heaviest hitters at the front while the rest follow behind, so that even when their forces appear mighty are in reality fragile.
The Chu (Well-ordered) people are soft and weak. Their lands stretch far and wide, and their troops are weary and although their formations are well-ordered, they do not have the resources to maintain their positions for long.
The Qin (High in morale) are ferocious and their terrain is treacherous. The government's decrees are strict and impartial. Qin soldiers are brave and high in morale so that they are able to scatter and engage in individual combat.
The Jin (Experienced) Jin are a gentle people, weary..from war and experienced in arms, but have little regard for their generals. Although their troops are experienced, they cannot be expected to fight to the death.
The Tactics cards
The symbols of the tactics cards are based on the main weapons during the Warring States period.
The chariot remained for long a major factor in Chinese warfare and it was only near the beginning
of the Warring States period that there was a shift. However, it did retain its prestige and importance.
The massed infantry made warfare bloodier, reduced the importance of the aristocracy and hence made
the kings stronger and more despotic. Their most popular weapon, the dagger-axe, is used the tactics symbol.
The crossbow was invented
during the Warring States period and have been found with the terracotta army.
When campaigning, be swift as the wind;
in leisurely march, majestic as a forest;
in raiding and plundering, like fire;
in standing, firm as the mountains.
The special powers of each of those strategies were simple to link to Sun Tzu's words.
The movement of own armies became the swift wind while the movement of others' armies became the raiding
fire. The strong "double army" on top of an own army outside a state became the firm mountain and the "infiltrating army"
beneath an army in a state became majestic army. (Perhaps it impresses the inhabitants of the state?)
The Advisor cards
Although Confucius lived before the Warring States period, his influence on the Chinese society
earned him a place on the advisor cards, which allows the players to play 1 extra card. Whether he
would have approved of the wars is another matter...