Skud Pai Sho Comprehensive Rules

Play online at SkudPaiSho.com or get in touch on Twitter @SkudPaiSho

Pai Sho Board
Pai Sho Board

Click here for the printable version of the rules. Read those rules first.

This page has the full comprehensive rules. For an overview of the game, watch this video and take a look at the Pai Sho Resources page.

Skud Pai Sho (simply called Pai Sho throughout these rules) is a Pai Sho variant based heavily on the various existing community rules, intended to be a comprehensive set of rules that make the game fun, competitive, and strategic. Learn more here.


Skud Pai Sho is based on the Wiki Pai Sho tile set. See Buying Pai Sho for reviews of available Pai Sho boards and tiles you can buy to play. You can also play online at skudpaisho.com.

Overview of Play

The object of Pai Sho is to arrange your tiles in a certain way (creating what are called Harmonies between tiles, which will be explained later) and prevent your opponent from achieving the same goal.

In Pai Sho…

  • Players take turns moving and placing tiles on the board
  • Tiles are placed on the intersections of the lines as opposed to inside the squares. These intersections are referred to as points on the board.

Tiles

Each player has his or her own full set of tiles. Let’s look at what these tiles are and how many of each are in a set.

There are two main types of tiles: Basic Flower Tiles and Special Tiles. We’ll talk about the details on how these tiles move and any special effects they have later.

Basic Flower Tiles

Basic tiles are split into Red Flower tiles and White Flower tiles.

Red Flowers

  • Rose x3
  • Chrysanthemum x3
  • Rhododendron x3

TileRs TileC TileRh

White Flowers

  • Jasmine x3
  • Lily x3
  • White Jade x3

TileJs TileLy TileJd

Special Tiles

Special tiles are split into Accent tiles and Special Flower tiles.

Accent Tiles

  • Rock x2
  • Wheel x2
  • Knotweed x2
  • Boat x2

TileRk TileW TileKn TileB

Special Flowers

  • Orchid x1
  • White Lotus x1

TileO TileLt

Note: The White Lotus tile does not count as a Basic White Flower Tile. It is a Special Flower Tile.

Starting the Game

Decide which player will be the Host and which player will be the Guest.

The Host chooses 4 of his Accent Tiles to use during the game, and then the Guest chooses 4 of his Accent Tiles. The remaining Accent Tiles are set aside and not used during the game. Alternately, the Host may choose to allow only one of each Accent Tile to be given to each player if he wishes.

Then, the Guest places a Basic Flower Tile in the Gate nearest to them. The Host places one of the same kind of tile in the opposite Gate (Gates are explained later).

Then, the Guest has the first move.

Note: For a quicker game, have the Host start with a Clashing tile instead of the same tile as the Guest.

Playing A Turn

On your turn, you choose to either Arrange or Plant.

Arranging – Moving Tiles

If you choose to Arrange on your turn, move one of your Flower Tiles that is on the board and perform a Harmony Bonus action if applicable (tile movement and Harmony Bonus will be explained later).

Planting – Placing Tiles

If you choose to Plant, place a Basic Flower Tile in an open Gate.

Growing and Blooming

Flower Tiles that are in a Gate are considered Growing.

Flower Tiles that have been moved out of their Gate are considered Blooming.

Harmony and Disharmony

Two tiles form a Harmony if they are:

  • Harmonious tiles belonging to the same player that are both Blooming
  • On the same vertical or horizontal line with no other tiles or Gates between them

Flowers on the board are not allowed to Clash, or be in a state of Disharmony. Disharmony is similar to Harmony, but is not allowed to exist on the board and involves both players’ tiles. No move may be made if the move would result in any two tiles Clashing. A Disharmony would be created between two tiles if they are:

  • Tiles that Clash with each other, belonging to either player, and are both Blooming
  • On the same vertical or horizontal line with no other tiles or Gates between them

See the Basic Flower Properties section to see what tiles are Harmonious with each other and which tiles Clash with each other.

Note: It is sometimes hard to notice that a move causes tiles to Clash. That is okay. Use these guidelines during play:

  • If your opponent attempts to make a move that causes tiles to Clash, let him know that he cannot make that move.
  • If at any point during a game both players notice that tiles have been illegally moved to form a Disharmony, remove the Clashing tiles from the board and return each of them to their owner’s hand of tiles.

Harmony Bonus

When you choose to Arrange during your turn and your move creates one or more new Harmonies between your tiles on the board (a new Harmony is a Harmony between tiles that were not in Harmony with each other before the move), you may perform one of the following actions as a Harmony Bonus:

  • If you have less than two Growing Flower Tiles, play a Basic Flower Tile as if you were Planting by placing it in any open Gate
  • Play an Accent Tile on the board and activate its special effect
  • Play a Special Flower Tile as if you were Planting by placing it in any open Gate

You only get one Harmony Bonus action per turn, regardless of how many Harmonies you create when moving a tile, or if additional Harmonies are created from the effects of playing an Accent Tile during a Harmony Bonus action.

Capturing Tiles

When a Basic Flower Tile lands on an opponent’s Basic Flower Tile that it Clashes with, the tile that is landed on is captured.

Only Blooming Flower Tiles can be captured. Growing Flower Tiles cannot be captured.

Capture abilities of Special Flower Tiles are explained in the Special Tile Properties section.

When a tile is captured, remove it from the board. It is not used during the rest of the game.

Basic Flower Tile Properties

Each Flower Tile has its own movement and Harmony abilities. Tiles cannot move over other tiles, but may change direction any number of times as they move.

Basic Flower Tiles can be referenced by shorter names, such as Red 3 or White 5, indicating their color and how far they can move. It’s also easy to remember which tiles are Harmonious or Clash with each other. The order of the tiles is a circle: Red 3, Red 4, Red 5, White 3, White 4, White 5. A tile may form Harmonies with the tiles next to it in the circle (for example, White 5 is Harmonious with White 4 and Red 3). A tile Clashes with its opposite tile (for example, Red 3 Clashes with White 3).

Red Flowers

Rose (Red 3)

  • Can move up to 3 spaces
  • Harmonious with White Jade and Chrysanthemum
  • Clashes with Jasmine

Chrysanthemum (Red 4)

  • Can move up to 4 spaces
  • Harmonious with Rose and Rhododendron
  • Clashes with Lily

Rhododendron (Red 5)

  • Can move up to 5 spaces
  • Harmonious with Chrysanthemum and Jasmine
  • Clashes with White Jade

White Flowers

Jasmine (White 3)

  • Can move up to 3 spaces
  • Harmonious with Rhododendron and Lily
  • Clashes with Rose

Lily (White 4)

  • Can move up to 4 spaces
  • Harmonious with Jasmine and White Jade
  • Clashes with Chrysanthemum

White Jade (White 5)

  • Can move up to 5 spaces
  • Harmonious with Lily and Rose
  • Clashes with Rhododendron

Note: See the Skud Pai Sho Overview page for a visual of the circle of Harmony and an overview of all the tiles.

Special Tile Properties

Each Special Tile has unique affects on the game. See the Harmony Bonus section for information on when Special Tiles are played.

Accent Tiles

Accent Tiles are Special Tiles that have a unique effect on the game.

Rock

  • Played on an open intersection
  • No tiles can form Harmony on the entire vertical or horizontal line that the Rock tile is on. Any Harmonies that would be formed anywhere on these lines are canceled and do not count. Does not affect Disharmony in the same way (but still disrupts Harmony or Disharmony like any other tile if between the two tiles). This effect lasts as long as the Rock tile is on the board.
  • Cannot be moved by a Wheel tile

Wheel

  • Played on an open intersection
  • When played, a Wheel tile rotates all tiles on the points surrounding it (adjacent and diagonal), moving the tiles one space in a clockwise direction around the Wheel.
  • A Wheel cannot be played on a point where it would move a Rock tile, cause any tiles to Clash, or if it would move a tile into an opposite-colored Garden, off of the board, off of a Gate, or onto a Gate.

Knotweed

  • Played on an open intersection
  • Any Blooming Flower Tiles on the points surrounding a Knotweed tile (adjacent and diagonal) are drained and are unable to form Harmony. Any Harmonies that would be formed by tiles on the surrounding points are canceled and do not count. Does not affect Disharmony in the same way. This effect lasts as long as the Knotweed tile is on the board.

Boat

  • Can be played on any Blooming Flower Tile or Accent Tile
  • If played on a Flower Tile, move that Flower Tile to an empty surrounding point (adjacent or diagonal) and place the Boat tile in the original position of the Flower Tile.
  • If played on an Accent Tile, both tiles are considered captured and removed from the board.
  • A Boat cannot be played in a way that would cause tiles to Clash, and cannot move a Flower Tile into an opposite-colored Garden or onto a Gate.

Special Flower Tiles

White Lotus

  • Can move up to 2 spaces
  • Basic Flower Tiles of either player form a Harmony with White Lotus tiles. The Harmony belongs to the player who owns the Basic Flower Tile.
  • Cannot be captured (except by an Orchid that is able to capture Flower Tiles).

Orchid

  • Can move up to 6 spaces
  • Opponent’s Blooming Flower Tiles on points surrounding your Orchid (adjacent and diagonal) are trapped and cannot move.
  • If you do not have a Blooming White Lotus tile on the board, your Orchid tile cannot be captured (except by an opponent’s Orchid that is able to capture Flower Tiles).
  • If you have a Blooming White Lotus tile on the board:
    • Your Orchid tile can be captured by any of your opponent’s Flower Tiles.
    • Your Orchid tile can capture any of your opponent’s Flower Tiles.

Gardens and Gates

The Pai Sho board is separated into separate areas called Gardens and Gates. The small red areas on the four sides of the board are the Gates. All other areas of the board are either a Neutral Garden, Red Garden, or White Garden.

On certain points of the board, a tile may be in multiple areas of the board at once. A tile is in any area the tile touches on the board while it is on a point.

Gates

Gates are the points within the red areas on each of the four sides of the board. There are four Gates.

Open Gates

A Gate is open when there are no tiles on the Gate.

Use of Gates in Play

  • Flower Tiles are played in an open Gate when they are Planted.
  • Tiles in a Gate (Growing tiles):
    • Do not form Harmony or Disharmony with other tiles
    • Cannot be captured
  • You cannot move a tile that is already on the board onto a Gate.
  • Accent Tiles cannot be placed on a Gate.

Gardens

The large red areas on the board are Red Gardens, white areas on the board are White Gardens, and the yellow (or non-colored) areas are Neutral Gardens.

Use of Gardens in Play

  • White Flower tiles are not allowed to end their move so that they are completely within a Red Garden.
  • Red Flower tiles are not allowed to end their move so that they are completely within a White Garden.
  • Any Flower tile may move into a Neutral Garden.
  • Special Flower tiles may move into any Garden.

Winning

The game ends if a Harmony Ring is formed, a player plays his or her last Basic Flower Tile, or if a player forfeits.

Harmony Ring

The game ends when a player creates a Harmony Ring, which is a chain of Harmonies that goes around the center point of the board. The player who achieves the Harmony Ring is the winner.

No More Basic Flower Tiles

The game ends when a player plays his or her last Basic Flower Tile. When this happens, the player with more remaining Accent Tiles wins. If players have the same amount of Accent Tiles, then the player with the most Harmonies wins.

Forfeit

The game can end when a player forfeits, but that just isn’t as fun. You can never win if you forfeit unless you agree to give your opponent a gift that he or she deems worthy enough for you to deserve the win.

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