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Kutai Pai Sho

Page history last edited by Red Kutai 14 years ago

This page (and the Variant it covers) is currently named for its creator, Red Kutai; proper name suggestions are always welcomed.



Kutai Pai Sho utilises a normal game board; the most common variant of the game is played on the board's valid intersections (intersections of which at least half of each adjoining square lie on the board), while others utilise the squares between them.


Colored Intersections

An intersection is whatever colours the squares touching it are. Thus, intersections can Red, White, Yellow, or any combination of the three. In the event that an intersection touches a square with more than one colour, treat that square as whatever colours touch the intersection point. (Thus, the squares themselves may be multiple colours.) As a rule of thumb, an intersection is every colour a Tile placed on it would overlap.



Each player has a set comprised of  29 pieces

       A            B            C            D            E



 The pieces of Kutai Pai Sho are (from top to bottom): A. Day Cherry Blossom, Day Chrysanthemum, Day Iris, Day Maple, Day Peony, Day Rhododendron; B. Night Cherry Blossom, Night Chrysanthemum, Night Iris, Night Maple, Night Peony, Night Rhododendron; C. Day Clover, Day Jasmine, Day Lily, Day Pine, Day Willow, Day Wisteria; D. Night Clover, Night Jasmine, Night Lily, Night Pine, Night Willow, Night Wisteria; E. Cup, Spade, Twig, Wheel, and White Lotus.



Red Flowers

The Red Flower Tiles are the Cherry Blossom, Chrysanthemum, Iris, Maple, Peony, and Rhododendron. Each player has two of each tiles, once representing a light or daytime version, and the other representing a shady or nighttime version. These tiles may only be placed on red or yellow intersections.

   Red Flowers
Name  Season  Value 
Cherry Blossom  Spring  2 points 
Chrysanthemum  Summer  2 point 
Iris  Spring  1 point 
Maple  Fall  3 points 
Peony  Summer  1 point 
Rhododendron  Winter  3 points 


White Flowers

The White Flower Tiles are the Clover, Jasmine, Lily, Pine, Willow, and Wisteria. Like the Red Flowers, players have both Night and Day versions of both. These tiles may only be placed on white or yellow intersections.


Pine (Winter, 1 point)

Jasmine (Winter, 2 points)

Wisteria (Spring, 3 points)

Lily (Summer, 3 points)

Clover (Autumn, 1 point)

Willow (Autumn, 2 points)


Other Pieces


The last 5 pieces are the Wheel, Cup, Spade, Twig and White Lotus. Each player has one of each of these, and each have unique properties. Unless otherwise noted, these tiles can only be placed on yellow intersections.


Wheel [Water] (Forms a 2-point Harmony with either Autumn Day or Summer Night Flowers; 2 points)

Cup [Fire] ( Forms a 2-point Harmony with either Spring Day or Winter Night Flowers; 2 points)

Spade [Earth] (Creates No Harmonies; prevents adjacent flowers from causing Disharmony; 1 point)

Twig [Air] (Forms 1-point Harmony with any Flower; 3 points)


White Lotus

Unlike the other special tiles, the White Lotus is a flower tile, and can thus be used as a Centerpiece. It can be placed only on Red or White intersections (it is the only piece that cannot be played on entirely Yellow intersections). It forms Harmonies with other tiles equal to their point values.




The Centerpiece

Play begins by playing a flower in the board's center; this is the Centerpiece. The player placing the Centerpiece may place any of his Flower tiles (thus excluding the Cup, Spade, Twig, and Wheel tiles). In order for a player to gain points for a Harmony, that Harmony must link back to the Centerpiece. Tiles serving as the Centerpiece are never affected by Disharmony.



After the Centerpiece has been played, each player takes turns placing one piece on the board at any valid intersection. After a player places a piece, that player calculates the current Harmony. Pieces are in Harmony if they fulfill the following conditions:

  • The pieces share at least one property; the properties are colour (Red or White), light (Day or Night), and season (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall). The more properties shared, the higher the value of the Harmony.
  • A straight line can be drawn between the intersections those two pieces are on. This line may not intersect any other pieces.
  • The pieces do not have a higher valued Harmony with any other pieces. Additionally, they may not have an equal-value Harmony with nearer pieces. (This is called Harmony preference, though this rule is not always mandatory.)

Harmony grows out from the Centerpiece; each piece can have Harmony with one piece other than its connection back to the Centerpiece. Pieces with identical flowers (whether Night or Day versions) do not form Harmony with each other.




Whenever two pieces are played directly adjacent to each other (on two intersections connected by a line with no intersections between), they create Disharmony. While the pieces remain adjacent, neither piece can form Harmony with any other piece without overcoming it. Overcoming Disharmony works as such:

  • If the Disharmonious pieces have no similarities, neither can form Harmonies. This is a complete Disharmony and it cannot be overcome while both pieces remain in play.
  • If the Disharmonious pieces have 1 similarity, each can form only 3 point Harmonies.
  • If the Disharmonious pieces have 2 similarities, each can form Harmonies worth 2 or more points.
  • If the adjacent pieces have 3 similarities (including identical pieces), they create no Disharmony. These pieces may create Harmonies normally.


See Also:

Comments (19)

Yi Chen said

at 3:37 pm on Apr 1, 2010

Hi red kutai, do you have any designs for your tiles and have you actually played your variation?

Red Kutai said

at 11:36 am on Apr 2, 2010

I have the designs in a notebook; my computer art skills are sub-par at best, so I've yet to produce them digitally. And, no, I haven't gotten a chance to play yet. I'll have to make a board, but as soon as I do, I'll let you know how it goes...

Yi Chen said

at 12:17 am on Apr 10, 2010

I like your tiles, especially the way you have incorporated all of the known tile designs.

Red Kutai said

at 11:19 am on Apr 10, 2010

Thank you; I tried. I don't know too much about flowers, so I don't know how accurate it all is. (Thanks to Google.) Like I said before, I based a lot off of Hanafuda cards...

Red Kutai said

at 11:45 am on Apr 10, 2010

I modified the tiles a bit, as the green shade wasn't doing its job. I needed a "shady" look, but all it had was "ugly". The only reason it was there was to make a "natural" colour for the Pine and Willow tiles, but it didn't even do that well. I think the tiles are much prettier overall, now...

Red Kutai said

at 9:34 am on Apr 12, 2010

Alright, I know no one's been checking back here or anything, but I'm pretty sure I'm done messing with the tiles. They look pretty uniform to me now, and they're all pretty straightforward. Questions and comments are always welcomed...

BartlettMagic said

at 11:00 am on Jun 19, 2010

those look great! a quick question (sorry if i missed it above): you say in the tile descriptions that the White Lotus is on the reverse side of the White Jade- so, one physical piece for both tiles? also, are there any other tiles that are 'doubled up' like that? each player has a set of 28 pieces, but only 27 physical tiles? thanks!

Red Kutai said

at 4:39 pm on Jun 20, 2010

Ooh, nice catch; I claim there are 28 above, but my image clearly shows 30 faces, which means 29 separate tiles. I'll fix that immediately.

Anyhow, no, there aren't any other pieces that "double-up", in being placed on one physical tile, and, to be honest, the idea has been bothering me a bit recently. I may look into simplifying down to a pure 29 piece set, possibly removing the White Jade tile (the image may need to be moved to another tile, in that case, as it appears in canon), but I haven't figured out how to work that out. But I appreciate your interest in my design...

Christian said

at 10:55 am on Aug 11, 2010

One question: has anyone been working on a way of telling the difference between one's tiles and one's opponent's tiles? Every time I consider how I might play the game, I am confronted by the idea that the tiles may be indistinguishable. In chess, there are white pieces and black pieces. Could Pai Sho tiles be light brown for one player and dark brown for the other player? Or is there already a solution in use? Let me know is anyone has any ideas.... Thanks!

Red Kutai said

at 8:57 pm on Aug 12, 2010

I've considered the solution (simply for ease of use) of having the tiles made from a lighter wood and a darker wood; again, this only helps to distinguish them when assembling the sets, since this version of Pai Sho doesn't care which pieces are whose after they've been played. Harmonies form between any two Harmonious pieces, and there's no ability to move pieces after they're played; as such, distinguishing between "mine" and "yours" while playing is more-or-less irrelevant...

Jeremy said

at 6:39 am on Aug 15, 2010

If I may make a suggestion, this may seem non-traditional, but I have marked the tiles I made with colored edges to signify which tile belongs to which player. This allows players to see the player's colors without interfering with the graphic on the tile itself.

Yi Chen said

at 8:10 am on Aug 15, 2010

I think that a solution to the problem is to have a mark on the edge of the tile to denote which way the tile is facing, in a similar way to how the shape of a shogi tile shows the owner of the piece. That way there only needs to be one set of tiles and captured tiles could be used against the opposing player. The design on the tile itself could also be used to indicate the direction being attacked.

Red Kutai said

at 2:03 pm on Aug 16, 2010

Again, this is really a non-issue. It's not at all relevant to gameplay who owns which tiles, and that was done intentionally to avoid these kinds of requirements. In games that facilitate capturing, there would still be only one "pot" of captured pieces and players would be free to move pieces that they don't own. I've been considering one such game, recently, and I may post it soon, if I can get the rules assembled properly...

Black Shadow said

at 7:10 pm on Aug 27, 2010

What is the fifth piece down in column E of the tiles section? In the wiki version it is the white dragon, but here you do not have it mentioned, only pictured...
Only curious ;) From reading this comments I assume it is/was the "white jade" which you had doubled up on a tile with the white lotus, but the page doesn't give an explanation.... so I'm slightly confused XD I'm finally getting around to make a set, and am trying to decide whether to use an existing version game rules or take the time to work out my own. I love your version of the rules, but as I said, am confused about the mysterious, unmentioned yet pictured "white jade ?" piece. If anyone could help clear this up, I would REALLY appreciate it! ;) Thanks.

Osuji said

at 7:02 am on Aug 28, 2010

I believe that is the White Jade which is on the back of the White Lotus see the comment on this page from BartlettMagic Jun 19 2010 and Red Kutai's reply Jun 20 2010

Red Kutai said

at 5:12 am on Aug 30, 2010

Yeah, you caught me; as Osuji said, it's the White Jade tile that was removed from the rules, but I've yet to update the image there.

So much for being sneaky...

metsik said

at 3:28 am on Aug 30, 2010

What is the goal of this game though? Is there one? Is there actually a winner and a loser?

Red Kutai said

at 5:20 am on Aug 30, 2010

You know, at some point in trying to make this as clear as possible, it seems that information has been lost, somehow. Thanks for bringing the issue up.

Yes, there is a winner; each turn, after a player plays his piece, the game calculates the total Harmony on the board. The player wins if that total Harmony exceeds a certain predetermined value, though I haven't gotten enough playtesting done to determine what that value should be in a normal two-player game. In addition to this rule, I've /considered/ optional gambling rules (akin to Koi Koi) that would allow a player to keep going after that value has been reached, for situations where the total number of points actually mattered.

Sorry for the oversight, and I'll work on remedying that soon; till then, I hope I was able to clarify...

Black Shadow said

at 7:40 pm on Sep 2, 2010

ah! I see, do you plan on keeping that canon piece in your version?

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