Dragon Face Rules Explained

Dragon Face plays similar to Chess and Checkers, but adds an exciting twist – captured pieces join the opposing team instead of being removed from the game!

Since Thierry Denoual created Dragon Face in 2011, we have had an overwhelmingly positive response from our community of players, but some have asked for clarifications regarding the rules. So, here is an updated version of the Dragon Face rules that will hopefully clarify any questions you have about the game. And if there is something we didn’t cover, please leave a reply at the bottom of the page and we will address it!

Dragon Face Logo

2 Players

Ages 8 to Adult

Contents:

  • Game Mat
  • Pieces
    • 2 Emperors
    • 12 Ambassadors
    • 14 Governors

The Game Mat:

The game mat is divided into 99 squares, consisting of the Territories and the Sacrifice Zone.

The Territories are the 63 inner squares, where most of the game’s action takes place.

The Sacrifice Zone is composed of the 36 border squares, where pieces are trapped when their move takes them outside the bounds of the Territories. (See: Playing the Game)

The Pieces:

The Emperor moves like the king piece in Chess, in any direction, one square at a time.

If your Emperor is captured, you lose the game.

Dragon Face Emporer

The Ambassador moves like the queen piece in Chess, as far as you want it to, along a straight line.

Dragon Face Ambassador

The Governor moves similar to the pawn in Chess. It can only move forward, one square at a time (straight or diagonally), and may only capture diagonally. The first time a Governor moves, you may move it two squares (in the same direction) rather than one.

Dragon Face Governor

IMPORTANT:

Pieces cannot move over other pieces except when capturing.

Pieces cannot change direction mid move.

Set Up:

Each player chooses an empire (light or dark) and flips all their pieces (1 Emperor, 6 Ambassadors, 7 Governors) to the corresponding side, and places them as pictured:

Dragon Face setup

Object of the Game:

Capture your opponent’s Emperor.

Playing the Game:

The player using the light colored pieces moves first. After this, take turns moving one piece at a time.

On your turn, you may move any of your pieces in the Territories, according to its description. (See: The Pieces)

Capturing pieces:

You may capture any of your opponent’s pieces that you can reach with one of your own pieces. To capture it, move your piece as normal (except for the Governor who can only capture diagonally), and place it in the square immediately on the other side of the piece you wish to capture. If the square behind that piece already has another piece in it, then it is protected and you may not capture it.

When you capture a piece, it is flipped over and immediately becomes part of your empire, and you can choose to move it on your next turn.

Capturing Summary:

  • Move your pieces as normal to capture.
  • The Governor can only capture diagonally.
  • There must be an available square on the other side of the piece you wish to capture.
  • Captured pieces are flipped and become part of your empire.

Immunity:

You may not capture a piece which was captured on your opponent’s previous turn. You must wait at least one turn to recapture any of your pieces.

The Sacrifice Zone:

Pieces can only enter the Sacrifice Zone when capturing another piece.

Once a piece enters the Sacrifice Zone, it is stuck there for the rest of the game.

The only exception to this rule is the Ambassador piece, which can return to the Territories if you reach (or cross over) your opponent’s back line with one of your Governors. At this point, you may choose to reactivate one of your Ambassadors in the Sacrifice Zone by placing the Governor that just reached your opponent’s back line underneath it. The Ambassador is now free to move back into the Territories on any of your future turns, but the Governor you used to activate it must remain in the Sacrifice Zone for the rest of the game.

Note: Pieces stuck in the Sacrifice Zone still prevent other pieces from moving into their square, which means that you cannot perform a capture move that would take your piece into an occupied square in the Sacrifice Zone.

Sacrifice Zone Summary:

  • If a Governor enters the Sacrifice Zone, it is trapped there for the rest of the game.
  • If an Ambassador enters the Sacrifice Zone, it is trapped there until you can free it by moving one of your Governors into your opponent’s back line.
  • An Emperor MAY NOT enter the Sacrifice Zone

IMPORTANT:

If you are able to capture your opponent’s Emperor on your next turn, you do NOT need to let them know. (No need to say, “Check!”)

13 Responses to Dragon Face Rules Explained

  1. Darrin October 24, 2013 at 1:21 am #

    Hey, thanks so much for the clarifications. I still have a couple of things that I want to ask. With the Governor’s move for its first move, it can move two squares rather than one. What are the limitations to this if any? For instance, normal movement for a Governor can be one of any three unoccupied spaces in front of it. Can there be combinations? For instance, if there were a piece directly in front of the Governor which is still in its beginning spot, could it move diagonally forward-right then diagonally forward-left essentially swiveling completely around the piece? Or can the Governor move twice diagonally forward-right? It seems to me that would be legal.

    A better question though is, can the second move be a capture? Let’s say there is an opponent’s piece two squares up and one to the right. Can the Governor move forward one for the first move, then capture diagonally to the forward-right for the second move? That would change a couple of things in games that I have played if that is a legal move.

    I did have a couple of questions about the sacrifice zone, but most have been answered with the explanation here. But there is one more issue about the phrase “your opponent’s back line”. What about the corner spots for this? If my Governor diagonally captures moving into that corner spot in the sacrifice zone, is that considered “your opponent’s back line”? Or is that part of the sacrifice zone from which it may not be moved?

    I believe when one of the very nice people at GenCon led me through the game in a short demonstration that they mentioned that a piece on the sacrifice zone counts as a blocked spot. So I couldn’t move a second piece on top of that one space which is occupied in the sacrifice zone. It might be good to spell that out in your clarifications as well. Thanks in advance for any further insight that you can provide.

    -Darrin

    • Brandan Parsons October 24, 2013 at 11:15 pm #

      Hi Darrin,

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful questions! I have updated the rules to reflect my answers, but I’ve also added them here so you don’t need to reread the entire post.

      “With the Governor’s move for its first move, it can move two squares rather than one. What are the limitations to this if any? For instance, normal movement for a Governor can be one of any three unoccupied spaces in front of it. Can there be combinations?”

      – The Governor must move in the same direction for the duration of its move (including capturing). You may NOT change direction mid move (this applies for all pieces).

      “If there were a piece directly in front of the Governor which is still in its beginning spot, could it move diagonally forward-right then diagonally forward-left essentially swiveling completely around the piece? Or can the Governor move twice diagonally forward-right?”

      – As you guessed, the Governor may move twice diagonally forward-right, but it may not change directions mid move.

      “Can (its) second move be a capture?”

      – Yes, the Governor may capture a piece in the second square it passes through. (As long as the next square in line is empty)

      “Let’s say there is an opponent’s piece two squares up and one to the right. Can the Governor move forward one for the first move, then capture diagonally to the forward-right for the second move?”

      – No, it may not. The Governor must move in the same direction for the entirety of its move. If the enemy piece were two squares up and two to the right, then you could capture it. But in this example, the piece is safe from capture.

      “There is one more issue about the phrase “your opponent’s back line”. What about the corner spots for this? If my Governor diagonally captures moving into that corner spot in the sacrifice zone, is that considered “your opponent’s back line”? Or is that part of the sacrifice zone from which it may not be moved?”

      – It counts as both moving into your opponent’s back line AND entering the Sacrifice Zone. And it would allow you to reactivate one of your Ambassador pieces trapped in the Sacrifice Zone. In which case you would move the Governor under the Ambassador piece as normal. But if you didn’t have a trapped Ambassador piece (or didn’t want to reactivate one for some reason), you would have to leave the Governor where it landed in the Sacrifice Zone.

      “A piece on the sacrifice zone counts as a blocked spot. So I couldn’t move a second piece on top of that one space which is occupied in the sacrifice zone. It might be good to spell that out in your clarifications as well.”

      – You are correct! Pieces in the Sacrifice Zone prevent other pieces from moving into their squares, which means you cannot perform a capture move that would take your piece into an occupied square in the Sacrifice Zone. I will reflect this fact in the rules!

      Thanks so much for your feedback! Hopefully this has answered all your questions, but please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any more!

  2. Lynette Mattke October 29, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

    Love your games! Thanks for the fun.

  3. Danny October 30, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    sounds fun!

  4. Barrington Lloyd November 14, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

    Thank you so much for the rule updates! This clears up a lot of confusion for me.

    I just have two follow-up questions: once an Ambassador has been revived (let’s say zombiefied), can the zombie Ambassador move out of AND back into the Sacrifice Zone? My instincts say no, but I’d like official clarification. Also, is the zombie Ambassador allowed to change location inside the Sacrifice Zone before re-entering the territories? Example: moving inside the Sacrifice Zone to gain better re-entry position. (Can Ambassadors be captured in the Sacrifice Zone? Sorry if this is getting derailed.) Thanks again!

    -Barrington

  5. Brandan Parsons November 15, 2013 at 11:46 pm #

    Hi Barrington,

    Thanks for your great questions!

    The revived Ambassador CAN move back into the Sacrifice Zone as long as it is performing a capture move. But this is a very rare occurrence because pieces can only move in one direction each turn. So in order to move back into the Sacrifice Zone on the same turn, there would need to be an enemy piece on the opposite border of the Territories located in a straight line from where the Ambassador revived.

    But the Ambassador CANNOT move to another square within the Sacrifice Zone without first entering the Territories. The only time a piece can move to a square in the Sacrifice Zone is when it is performing a capture move from within the Territories.

    And no, pieces cannot be captured while they are in the Sacrifice Zone. Only pieces in the Territories may be captured.

  6. Darrin November 24, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    How about organizing a Dragon Face Tournament at GenCon 2014?

    • Brandan Parsons November 25, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

      Hi Darrin,

      Great idea!! Hopefully we will make it happen!

  7. cmcwonderland December 28, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    Regarding capturing — it is clear that the piece past the captured piece must be empty in order to capture the piece, however, can one player capture more than one piece on a given turn, as in the game “Checkers”, where each piece of the opponent has an empty square past each piece being captured; that is, as in Checkers, a player may “hop” over an opponent’s piece into a blank square, and continue hopping over an opponent’s piece into a blank square to capture a second piece in the forward direction — the only difference being that in Dragon Face, the opponent’s pieces change sides as opposed to being removed from the board as in Checkers. Just to be clear on the question, Can a black piece capture a white piece by jumping over it into an empty square, and continue to capture a second white piece in the same turn by jumping over it and into an empty square in the forward direction so that two white pieces separated by an empty square between them, and an empty square past the second piece, such that the two white pieces would become black pieces?? This was not clear in the directions at all, although checkers was mentioned as the analogy for capturing, however differed because of not being removed, but flipped after capturing. Checkers allows for multiple captures in the foward direction so long as each capture required the player doing the capturing to land in an empty square immediately past the captured piece before continuing to capture a second, third, etc., but could all be done in a single turn!! No mention of double jumping, or multiple jumping was mentioned in the directions/rules. It was simply not clear that a player’s turn ended with a single capture, regardless of whether it was in the Sacrifice Zone or in the Territories. Clarification of this would be most helpful.

    • Brandan Parsons December 30, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

      Hi! Thanks for the great question!

      There is no double jumping allowed in Dragon Face. You may only capture one piece per turn.

  8. Dallas January 26, 2014 at 5:09 am #

    I jumped my opponent’s emperor with my emperor and landed in the sacrifice zone. Do I win?

    • Brandan Parsons February 1, 2014 at 1:16 am #

      Ooo, tricky question. I believe in this scenario you would win the game because (even though normally you would lose by sending your Emperor into the Sacrifice Zone) you would still have one Emperor remaining from capturing your opponent’s piece and your opponent would be left with none.

      I will also check with the game’s creator and get back to you with an official answer!

      • Brandan Parsons February 26, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

        I asked Thierry (the game’s creator) and the official answer is that an Emperor may not enter the sacrifice zone. I will update the rules to reflect this.

        So to answer your question — you do not win because that is not a legal move. :)

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