Chan and Ruon-Jian’s House Party Tournament

Over the course of August, The Garden Gate hosted the largest Skud Pai Sho tournament they’ve ever done. Over 50 participants completed games via the online interface, sometimes streaming their games via Twitch. I had a chance to chat a bit with Zach Burnham, creator of Skud Pai Sho and The Garden Gate, about the tournament and other Pai Sho Related subjects.

So how did you go about getting a tournament up and running?

This one was completely run by a member of the community. Initially, The Garden Gate (that’s used a hacked together play-by-email system before I built in more proper real-time online play support. I ran an initial tournament in “the old days,” but with online play support, I built in a simple tournament system right into the site. Tournament Managers can create tournaments and set up the rounds and matches for everything. It can be whatever structure they want. The big tournament this year was double elimination, so with over 50 people, that was a bit crazy

That’s awesome! It was strictly the Skud ruleset, correct?

Yeah, that was a Skud Pai Sho tournament. They’ve just wrapped up a Vagabond Pai Sho tournament, too. Fewer players since Vagabond is perhaps a bit less active, and it was during school, etc. But it was a team tournament, like chess team tournaments… If you know how those work. I didn’t, so I got to learn about that (slight smile.)

Were the Ancient Oasis and/or Original Benders tiles added in?

Nope, it was straight Skud Pai Sho without the expansion.

Speaking of – the Ancient Oasis expansion is built into the site right now, but I had planned to put together an “Original Benders” expansion. Still, since I delayed so long in that, a community member has put together some rules for that. I liked it and will hopefully build that into the site some time to get all tested and ironed out.

Very nice! So how long did the tournament run for?

The […] tournament ran through August, with each round allowing correspondence games, just requiring rounds to be completed after a few days. That tournament was called “Chan and Ruon-Jian’s House Party Tournament,” making for a pretty hilarious Avatar reference.

The Ember Island guys?

Ruon Jian

Yeah (laughs)

Due to some confusion about how the tournament manager wanted the end of the tournament to look, being double-elimination, it came down to two players agreeing to share the tournament winner title and declaring themselves to be Chan and Ruon-Jian.

That’s awesome.

So now Chan and Ruon-Jian are planning on hosting a “Chan and Ruon-Jian’s Holiday Party” tournament

I love the idea, and it’ll make for more memorable tournaments in the future. That brings me to my next question. What kind of snags were there along the way?

People have asked for tournaments before, and for any past tournaments before this, I was happy to see 12 or 16 people participate. So I didn’t really imagine it would be too much work for the poor guy who volunteered to run it. But he did a great job even with over 50 players.

We usually ask people to sign up for the tournament on and then confirm that they’re committed to playing on either the forum or Discord to verify to weed out players who might be inactive in the tournament. There were only a few players in the first round where that was an issue, so really, it was pretty smooth the whole way through.

Lots of excitement from the community, people streaming games that were being played live on Twitch and commentating, it was fun.

I was just about to ask if any matches were streamed! Have those matches been archived for people to view now that the tournament is over?

A lot of the Twitch streams have been archived now, but I did create a compilation video. [shown above]

There was a player in the tournament who did pretty well, but ever since the tournament, he’s been playing multiple games every day. He’s gotten so much better; it’s great to see someone so active in the game I put so much work into. He had this to say about the game:

“I have played at least one game of Skud Pai Sho every single day for the past 3 or 4 months… this isn’t just a good game, it’s a masterpiece.”

But that said, since Skud Pai Sho is built off of existing old rules, I definitely don’t get all the credit for however good the game is (smiles.)

I should probably play more. I’m terrible at the game. Then again, I’m terrible at most games. My kids usually wipe the floor with me.

Ha, nice. Ya know, I remember you saying that about your kids when I read some posts about Tak years ago you wrote (laughs) Are they even better now that they’re older?


We’ve been playing lots of abstracts lately, and the only one I remotely have a chance at winning at is Shobu

Ooh, that’s one I’ve seen mentioned quite a bit but haven’t read through the rules of yet.

Just a couple more things. Where can people find the Pai Sho community these days if they’re interested in jumping in?

Join at and start playing; see the “New Game” menu from the top or side menu to find the different games and links to rules for everything. There are completely different games other than Pai Sho on the same board, using different pieces and objectives, like chess vs. checkers. There are a couple of other games there that aren’t Pai Sho related, too!

But the community is active on Discord. There’s a link to The Garden Gate Discord in the site’s side menu or the Links tab.

For Pai Sho games, I recommend taking a look at Skud, Vagabond, and Adeva.

There’s also a community YouTube channel some people have put together

You also sell physical Pai Sho boards and tiles that you laser cut, as well as have your own Patreon, correct?

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Cherry standard+ring and inverted Skud Pai Sho tiles. Modern tile designs.

Yeah! Links to Patreon will be in the same place next to the link to Discord.
And to see some of the laser cut sets I make, see my Instagram.

My shop only opens up for a few orders every few months, due to the limited time I have to work on everything. But I detail out the tools and workflow for everything I do in hopes that others can start producing the same quality things. I also make the files I use for laser cutting all freely available.

I’ve seen some of your work, and it’s awesome. Anything else you’d like to add before we wrap?

I’m excited about Adevar Pai Sho, a game that just was launched on The Garden Gate. A community member designs it, and I’m looking forward to seeing people get into that one!

Something new along the lines of Vagabond is in the works, too, called Trifle.

Vagabond is a more chess-like game, but the board starts empty, and the pieces have more varied abilities rather than just varied movements. Trifle will be like an expansion of Vagabond, a CCG-style abstract strategy game where you bring a team of pieces to the game from a large pool of available pieces.

As you might imagine, writing the code for a CCG-style game with a ton of different abilities and how the abilities interact isn’t quite as simple as some of the other games 🙂

For sure. I have to say the interface you’ve got right now is spectacular

I really love it. It could use a good rewrite to be more solid code, but the website is designed so any game could be played in it, like how Blooms is in there, for example.

Oh, one more thing. I also have a Pai Sho Playground on the site, which is cool in that it lets you pretty much do anything, and people are using it to build and playtest their own ideas for games. Pretty cool to see that.

There’s a game-dev channel in the Discord where people can post the rules to their games, and the Playground is set up so you can build the initial game setup and have a link where people can start up a game of whatever you build to start playing.

It’s how Adevar was able to get started and get people playing it and testing it out before being more fully built into the site.

I want to put in a call to anyone interested – we have a game under the name of Street Pai Sho, but it needs help! :laughing: There are a few people interested in figuring out how to take the idea of it but making it a good game worth playing.

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