Pax Pamir: Second Edition

Rules of Play

In Pax Pamir, each player assumes the role of a nine-

teenth-century Afghan leader attempting to forge a

new state after the collapse of the Durrani Empire.

Western histories often call this period “The Great

Game” because of the role played by the Europeans

who attempted to use Central Asia as a theater for their

own rivalries. In this game, those empires are viewed

strictly from the perspective of the Afghans who sought

to manipulate the interloping ferengi (foreigners) for

their own purposes.

In terms of gameplay, Pax Pamir is a pretty straightfor-

ward tableau builder. Players will spend most of their

turns purchasing cards from a central market and then

playing those cards in front of them in a single row

called a court. Playing cards adds units to the game’s

map and grants access to additional actions that can be

taken to disrupt other players and influence the course

of the game. That last point is worth emphasizing.

Though everyone is building their own row of cards,

the game offers many ways for players to interfere with

each other, both directly and indirectly.

To survive, players will organize into coalitions. In the

game, these coalitions are identified chiefly by their

sponsors. Two of the coalitions (British and Russian)

are supported by European powers. The third coalition

(Afghan) is backed by nativist elements who want to

end European involvement in the region.

Throughout the game, the different coalitions will

be evaluated when a special event card, called a

Dominance Check, is resolved. If a single coalition

has a commanding lead during one of these checks,

players loyal to that coalition will receive victory points

based on their influence in that coalition. However, if

Afghanistan remains fragmented during one of these

checks, players instead will receive victory points based

on their personal power base.

Favored Suit Marker

Loyalty Dial and Player

Board in each player color

Ruler Tokens


The Map

The map consists of six regions. There is no limit to the

number of pieces that can be placed on a specific region

or border, and pieces belonging to different players and

coalitions can occupy the same region or border. The

map is bordered by a victory point track and spaces to

mark the favored suit.

Coalition Blocks (36)

Each coalition has twelve blocks in its color. What a

block represents depends on where it is placed. A block

placed in a region is called an army. If placed on a bor-

der, the block is called a road (it helps to set roads on

their side to make them stand out at a glance).

In general, coalition blocks only help players who are

currently loyal to that coalition. So, even if you helped

raise the army, your soldiers will not follow you if you

change your loyalty.

Cylinders (55)

Each player has eleven cylinders in their color. The cylin-

der with the gold design is used to track victory points.

The remaining cylinders represent different things

based on where they are placed. A cylinder placed in a

region is called a tribe. If placed on a card in a player’s

court, the cylinder is called a spy.

Unlike coalition pieces, cylinders will always be on your

side, even if you change loyalty.

Money Supply (36)

There are 36 coins in the game. Each is worth a single

rupee. Unlike other components in the game, there is

no hard limit to the number of coins, but it is very rare

to need additional coins. In Pax Pamir, rupees represent

political capital. During this time, political capital was

largely a zero sum game, and that is true as well in Pax


Other Pieces

A variety of other playing pieces perform various func-

tions throughout the game, including ruler tokens, play-

er boards, loyalty dials, and the favored suit marker.




Armies are placed

upright in regions.

Roads are placed

sideways on








Cards (142)

There are three types of cards in Pax Pamir: event cards (16), court cards (100), and Wakhan cards

(24 AI and 2 aid).

Event cards are fairly straightforward. Each has two ef-

fects. The bottom effect is triggered if it is purchased by

a player. The top effect is triggered if the card is auto-

matically discarded during the cleanup phase at the end

of a player’s turn. Players should note that four of these

event cards feature the same picture of the throne room

of the Bala Hissar; these are special event cards called

Dominance Checks that determine when and how victo-

ry points are awarded.

The vast majority of the cards in the game are called

court cards. Court cards hold a lot of information and

understanding them is critical to playing Pax Pamir.

Their anatomy is described below.

Wakhan AI cards are used only when playing with

Wakhan (page 16). Wakhan aid cards are used to store

her gifts and provide reminders about important rules.


(colored bar)

Special Ability



Suit and






Core Anatomy

All court cards have these features.

Advanced Anatomy

Some court cards have these features.


Some court cards hold strong opinions.

Wakhan Cards

Ignore these cards unless you are

playing with Wakhan.

Patriots will only

serve in your court if

your loyalties align!


Starting Favored Suit

Pax Pamir begins in a period of great political upheaval. Ayub Shah, the last of the Durrani em-

perors, has just been deposed. A region once unified is now on the verge of total collapse, and

local authorities are taking the initiative.

To represent this political climate, place the favored suit marker on the

space next to the political suit.

Build the Draw Deck

Build the draw deck using the following steps:

1. Separate the court cards and the event cards.

2. Shuffle the court cards. Create six face-down piles of court cards, each consist-

ing of five cards, plus one card per player. The remaining court cards will not be

used this game.

3. Remove the four Dominance Check event cards from the other event cards.

Place one in each of the four rightmost piles.

4. Shuffle the remaining event cards. Place two in the second pile from the left and

one in each of the remaining four piles to its right. The six remaining event cards

will not be used this game.

5. Finally, separately shuffle each of the six piles. Then, stack the piles one on top

of the other, so that the four piles containing the Dominance Check event cards

are on the bottom of the deck. Do not shuffle this combined deck.

Create the Market

In Pax Pamir, cards enter play through a market. The market is an array of 12 face-up cards, ar-

ranged in a grid of two rows and six columns. During setup, create this market by drawing cards

from the draw deck and filling each market column (top row first), starting with the leftmost

column. Then place the draw deck to the right of the market.

Take Player Pieces

Give each player a set of eleven cylinders, one loyalty dial, a player board, and four rupees. Place

one cylinder from each player on the zero space of the victory point track and the rest on each

player’s player board.

Bank and Coalition Blocks

Place the remaining coins and the tray of coalition blocks near the area of play.

Starting Loyalty

Starting with a random player and proceeding clockwise, each player adjusts their loyalty dial to

indicate the loyalty they have chosen. After the last player has chosen their starting loyalty, that

player will take the first turn. The game is now ready to play.

To use Wakhan, the automated opponent,

with either one or two human players,

consult the rules on page 16.
















Future Court

Future Court

Future Court

































After building each pile, separately shuffle

each of the six piles. Then, stack the piles

one on top of the other, so that the four piles

containing the Dominance Check event

cards are on the bottom of the deck.

Top of



Dominance Check Event Card

Other Event Card

Court Card Piles

(n=number of players)





Key Terms and Concepts

The Four Suits

The vast majority of the cards in Pax Pamir are divided into four suits that each correspond to

a different mode of power: economic, military, political, and intelligence. Each suit has its own

advantages. Generally speaking...

Your Court

Each player is associated with a single row of cards called a court. Players begin the game with-

out any cards in their court, but will gradually add cards to and remove cards from their court

over the course of the game. Cards in a court cannot be freely rearranged. While your court can

grow to any size during your turn, during cleanup you must discard cards from your court so

that you do not have more court cards than three plus the sum of purple stars on cards in your


Your Hand

Each player is associated with a hand of cards. While your hand can grow to any size during

your turn, during cleanup you must discard cards from your hand so that you do not have more

hand cards than two plus the sum of blue stars on cards in your court.

Rank and Privilege

Each court card has a rank from one to three stars. Rank has two important

consequences. First, a card’s rank determines the strength of some of its

actions. These actions feature additional symbols to help players remember

which actions depend on rank. Second, a card’s rank is also added to your

total stars in a specific suit. Each sum of stars in a suit expands an important

privilege, as indicated here:

Economic Stars

prevent your rupees

from being taxed.

Military Stars serve

as a final score


Political Stars enable

you to maintain a

larger court.

Intelligence Stars

allow you to hold more

cards in your hand.

Rank one


Rank three


The military suit commands

armies and helps secure a coali-

tion’s dominance.

The intelligence suit grants

diplomatic flexibility and

the ability to compromise


The political suit consoli-

dates power and controls

which cards are able to be


The economic suit controls the

flow of rupees and the movement

of pieces. It also protects wealth

from taxation in the game.

The Favored Suit

One suit is always considered favored. This suit determines which cards take

bonus actions (page 12) and may make cards more expensive (page 10).

The favored suit changes when certain cards are played (page 11).


Loyalty and Influence

Players in Pax Pamir are always loyal to one of three coalitions: British (pink),

Russian (yellow), or Afghan (green). Your loyalty determines the color of coalition

blocks which you will place when playing cards or taking the build action e.g. play-

ers loyal to the Russian coalition place blocks that are yellow.

The extent of your loyalty to a coalition is measured in influence points. We’ll get to

the various ways you’ll acquire these things later, but, for now, know that your total

influence is the sum of one plus the number of patriots in your court, the number

of your prizes, and the number of your gifts.

To change your loyalty, you must gain an influence point associated with a

different coalition than your own (either by playing patriots or by betray-

ing cards with prizes). Whenever you change loyalty, first return your

gifts to your supply and discard any prizes and patriots you had previ-

ously accumulated. Finally, adjust your loyalty dial to indicate your new


Ruling a Region

Each of the six regions in the game is associated with a ruler token.

Ruler tokens remain on the board if no player currently rules the

region. If a player does rule a region, they should immediately take

the associated ruler token and place it in their play area. Likewise, if

a player ceases ruling a region, the associated ruler token should be

immediately returned to the board.

In order to take a ruler token, you must have at least one tribe and

a plurality of ruling pieces (more than all others individually).

Tribes and loyal armies are considered ruling pieces. If there is a

tie, no player rules the region. Armies belonging to enemy coali-

tions can prevent you from taking a ruler token, even if there are

no enemy tribes.

Ruling a region grants players access to the build action (page

13), special taxing privileges (page 13), and the ability to extract

bribes from other players who want to play cards associated with

that region (page 11). It’s good to be king.

Example: You have three ruling pieces in Kandahar (one tribe and two

Afghan armies loyal to you). There are also four additional armies not

loyal to you (two British, two Russian). Because you have at least one

tribe in the region and the most ruling pieces, you take the ruler token.

Blake is loyal to the Afghan coalition.

He has one gift, one prize,

and one patriot.

Nevertheless, he decides to change

loyalty. He plays the patriot “Sir John

Keane.” At this moment, he loses his

gift, his prize, and his patriot.


Blake’s Court

General Rules


Players are free to discuss the game during play and explicitly coordinate their actions. Howev-

er, any agreed-upon deal should be considered non-binding. Cards may never be transferred be-

tween players. Money can only be transferred from one player to another if explicitly sanctioned

by the rules e.g. taxation of subjects, bribes for taking hostage actions, playing cards.

Component Limits

If asked to place a unit and none remain in the supply, you must take a piece of the required

shape/color from anywhere in play, excluding any pieces placed this turn. In taking and placing

a piece this way, you may convert one type of unit to another.

Example: You must place a spy, but you have no cylinders remaining in your stock, so you take one of your

tribes in play and place it as a spy as instructed.

Card Precedence and Special Abilities

Some event cards and court cards with special abilities will modify the rules of the game. These

cards always take precedence over the rules. If a court card has a special ability, it is active as

long as the card remains in your court.

Access to Actions

You always have access to the following core actions: purchase and play. In addition, the cards

in your court provide you access to the actions listed on that card. Each card in your court can

only be used for one action per turn. That is, even if a card has three actions on it, only one of those

actions can be used each turn.

Discarding a Card in Your Court

Whenever a card in your court is discarded, the following rules always take effect:

Any spies on the card are lost and returned to their owner’s supply.

If the card had the leveraged icon, you must return two rupees to the supply.

For each rupee you cannot return, you must discard one card from your

hand or court (not including this card, of course). If you have no cards left, no further

payment is required.

The Overthrow Rule

In general, there is no persistent link between the cards in your court and the

pieces on the map. However, if you lose your last tribe in a region, you must im-

mediately discard all political cards associated with that region from your court.

Likewise, if you lose the last political card in your court associated with a region,

you must immediately remove all of your tribes in that region. Many games will

be won and lost because of this rule, so you may want to read it again just to make

sure you’ve got it!


Sequence of Play

Pax Pamir occurs over a series of turns. Each turn, the active player performs up to two actions

which are described in the following two sections of this rulebook. Bonus actions (page 12) do

not count against this limit. You may opt to take only a single action or no action at all. After you

have completed your turn, perform cleanup. Then play continues clockwise to the next player

until the game is over.


Cleanup has four steps:

First, if you have more cards than three plus the sum of the purple stars on cards

in your court, discard cards in your court until you are within your limit.

Second, if you have more cards than two plus the sum of the blue stars on cards

in your court, discard cards in your hand until you are within your limit.

Third, discard any event cards that are in the leftmost column of the market.

Any rupees on the discarded event will remain in their position. The top row is

always discarded first, followed by the bottom row. When an event card is dis-

carded, all players are affected by the text or impact icon at the top of the card.

Fourth, fill any empty spaces in the market by moving all cards in that market

row (along with their rupees) to their leftmost position. If a card moves into

a space with rupees from a previously-discarded event card, those rupees are

placed on the new card taking that position. Then draw new cards to fill in any

empty spaces starting with the leftmost and returning the market to its normal

size, if possible. In each empty column, fill the top row first.

Instability. If a Dominance Check card is revealed and there is already

a Dominance Check card in the market, immediately perform a Domi-

nance Check and then discard both Dominance Check

cards and fill the empty spaces in the market as

described above. If the final Dominance Check

card was discarded in this way, the Dominance

Check will count as the final check.

Game End and Victory

A game of Pax Pamir can end two ways. If, after any Domi-

nance Check, a single player leads all other players by at least

four victory points, the game is over and that player wins. Bar-

ring that, after the deck’s final Dominance Check is resolved,

the game will always end, and the player with the most victory

points wins.

If one or more players have the same number of vic-

tory points when the game ends, the player with the

most red stars in their court among the tied players

wins. If there is still a tie, the player with the most

rupees among the tied players wins. If there is still a tie,

whoever can cook the best chopan kebab wins.

The scoring of Dominance Checks is described on

page 15.


Core Actions

The two core actions of Pax Pamir are described in this section. While not difficult, the purchase

and play actions are, by far, the most complicated actions of the game. When teaching the game,

some groups may prefer to learn just these two actions and then introduce the other actions

gradually over the first few rounds of play.


Purchase a card from the market and add it to your hand. If you purchase a card that has rupees

on it, you receive them along with the card.

In order to purchase a card, you must be able to pay the card’s cost to the market.

The cost of the card depends on its current column in the market. The leftmost column is free,

the next column costs one rupee, then two, etc. Pay this cost by placing one rupee on each card

in the same row to the left of the card you are purchasing. If you are ever required to place a

rupee on a vacant market spot, pay the cost to the card in the same column in the other market

row. If you place a rupee on a market card for any reason, you may not purchase that card

this turn.

Event Cards. Event cards (including Dominance Checks) never enter a player’s hand and

are resolved the moment they are bought from the market. Many event cards have a per-

sistent effect that lasts until the next Dominance Check is resolved. Players who take these

event cards should place them below their court. Event cards that alter the general game

should be placed near the map in easy view of all players.

Purchasing Cards when Military Cards are Favored. If military cards are

favored, the cost to purchase a card is doubled. When purchasing cards from

the market, place two rupees on each card to the left of the purchased card

instead of one.


For his first action this turn, Chas purchases the third card

in the top row. He would like to purchase a second card

with his second action.

Because he already placed a coin on each of the first two

cards in the top row this turn, he cannot purchase them. He

decides to purchase the card “Arthur Conolly.” He pays a

coin to the first two cards in the top row. Because the third

slot is vacant, he pays his third coin to the opposite row.

He then takes his purchased card into his hand and takes

the two rupees on the purchased card.



Play any card from your hand to your court.

In order to play a card, first reveal that card to everyone

and announce its name and region. If you are the ruler of

that card’s region or if no one rules the region, you can

freely play the card. If someone else is that region’s ruler,

you must pay a bribe of rupees to them that is equal to the

number of the ruler’s tribes in that region. Any portion of

this cost can be waived with the permission of the ruler. If

the bribe is not paid (or waived), play continues as if the

action had never been taken.

The played card may be added to either the left or right end of your court.

If the card is a patriot that does not match your loyalty, discard all of your patriots and prizes,

and remove any gifts. Then adjust your loyalty dial to match that of the patriot.

After a card is played, resolve each impact icon on the right side of the card from top to bottom.

The effects of impact icons are described below:

No Stacking Limit

In general, there is no limit to the

number of pieces that can exist in

any particular region, border, or

court card. Pieces may also coexist

with those belonging to different

players and coalitions.

Place one coalition block of your loyalty

on any border of this region. This piece

is now a road.

Place one of your cylinders on a card in

any player’s court that matches the played

card’s region. This piece is now a spy.

Place one of your cylinders in this

region. This piece is now a tribe.

Take two rupees from the bank.

This card is leveraged. Reminder:

If you ever discard this card, you

must pay back the rupees (page 8).

Place one coalition block of your

loyalty in this region. This piece is

now an army.

Move the favored suit marker to the

suit indicated. Reminder: If the favored

suit is military, the cost to take the

purchase action is doubled.


Cati (blue) is loyal to the British coalition. She wants to play the card “Sikh Merchants in Lahore.”

That card is based in Punjab, so to play the card she will first need to pay a bribe to

the ruler of the Punjab, Hope (gray). Since Hope has two tribes in the region, she

can command a bribe of up to two rupees, which she does.

Cati decides it is worth the expense. If she had

declined to pay, Cati would not lose an action.

First, Cati can place a road on either of the

connections adjacent to Punjab (even if there

are other roads there!). As she is loyal to the

British, the road will be pink.

Then Cati will place a spy on any court card

associated with Punjab. She opts to place the spy

on one of Hope’s court cards. Perhaps she can

blackmail her in the future!

Finally, as the played card is leveraged,

Cati will take two rupees from the bank.


A Punjab

card in




Card-Based Actions

The rest of the actions in Pax Pamir are associated with court cards and can only be taken if you

have a card in your court which displays that action. Each card can only be used for one action

once per turn, regardless of the number of actions icons on that card.

Some card-based actions are modified by the rank of a card. The higher the rank, the more effec-

tive the action is. To help you remember this, action icons modified by rank feature additional


Bonus Actions. Actions on cards matching the favored suit do not count against your

turn’s two-action limit. Remember: each of these cards can still only be used for a single action

per turn.

Action Costs. Some card-based actions require the acting player to pay an amount of

rupees to cards in the market. These rupees are always paid in a similar fashion: rupees

equal to the cost should be placed on the rightmost market cards of both rows, with

a single rupee being paid to each card. If a market slot is vacant, skip that vacancy and

pay the next market card(s) in the row. Reminder: if you place a rupee on a market card for

any reason, you may not purchase that card this turn. For an example of paying action costs, see the

example of the Build Action on the next page. If the market does not contain enough cards to

take the spent rupees, any excess rupees are taken out of the game. This can happen in the

late game when the deck is depleted.

Hostage Actions. Court cards can be held

hostage much in the same way that a player

can rule a region. To hold a card hostage, a

single enemy player must have more spies

on the card than each other player. When

a card in a player’s court is held hostage,

that player can only use the card’s actions if

the player holding it hostage is paid a bribe

equal to the number of hostage-holding

spies on the card. Any portion of this pay-

ment can be waived with the permission of

the player holding the actions hostage. Spe-

cial abilities (those described in a small text box)

are never held hostage.

This card is in Hope’s (gray)

court. Cati (blue) has two

spies on the card. Hope only

has one. For this reason, this

card’s two actions are held

hostage by Cati.

To take either of this card’s

two actions, Hope must pay

a bribe of two rupees to Cati.

Cati may reduce or waive

this bribe outright.




Cati takes a tax action with a rank two

card. She rules Kabul.

Since Cati rules Kabul, she can take one rupee from

Brooke who has a court card in that region.

Brooke’s other rupees are protected by her Money

Lender’s Tax Shelter.

Cati takes the other rupee

from the market.

Brooke’s Court

The Market


Cati takes a build action. She rules Kabul

and is loyal to the British coalition.

Since Cati rules only Kabul, she can build armies in

Kabul or roads on any of its four borders. She can

place up to three blocks with this action, but decides

to only place two armies. This costs a total of four

rupees which she pays to the market.

The Market



Take rupees up to the acting card’s rank from players with at least one court card

associated with a region you rule or any card(s) in the market (regardless of their

region). You may take rupees from several sources so long as the total taken does

not exceed the rank of the acting card.

Tax Shelter. The total number of gold stars in your court indicates the

amount of rupees you can shelter from the Tax Action. Only rupees you

hold in excess of your Tax Shelter are vulnerable to the Tax Action.


Place one of your cylinders on one of your empty gift spaces on your loyalty dial.

Each gift will count as one influence point in your current coalition. The cost of

this action is equal to the marked price of the gift placed (2, 4, or 6).

Reminder: Gifts are lost whenever you change loyalty!


Place up to three armies and/or roads among any regions that you rule. Roads

may be placed on any adjacent borders. Any combination of different units may

be purchased. The cost of this action is equal to two rupees per unit placed.



For each rank of the acting card you may

move one loyal army or spy. The same unit

can be moved multiple times on a single

turn. Likewise, multiple moves may be split

across several of your spies and loyal armies.

To move an army from one region to an ad-

jacent region there must be a road matching

the loyalty of the moving army on the bor-

der being crossed.

Spies move along cards in the players’

courts (clockwise or counter-clockwise),

as if they formed a single continuous track

around the area of play.


Discard one card where you have a Spy (including cards in your own court). Any

spies on the betrayed card are lost and returned to their owner’s supply. This action

always costs two.

After the betrayed card is discarded, you may accept it as a prize, tucking it partial-

ly behind your loyalty dial. If this prize is different from your current loyalty, first

remove all gifts, prizes, and patriots in your court matching your previous loyalty,

and rotate your loyalty dial to match the prize taken.

Reminder: Betrayals may trigger leveraged icons

and The Overthrow Rule (page 8).


Start a battle in a single region or on a court

card. At the site of the battle, remove any

combination of tribes, spies, roads, or armies

equal to the acting card’s rank. There are

three restrictions to this rule:

You cannot remove more units than

you yourself have armies or spies in

that battle.

You cannot remove armies or roads

that are of your loyalty.

You cannot remove tribes belonging

to players that share your loyalty.

However, their spies may be removed!


Blake (red) takes a rank three move action. He is loyal to the

Russian coalition. With his first two moves, he moves his spy

two cards counter-clockwise. Then, with his final move, he

moves his army to an adjacent region using a yellow road.




Cati is loyal to the British coalition and uses a rank two

battle action. She must first decide the site of the battle.

Cati (blue) selects a card

on Hope’s court. She

removes two of Hope’s

spies—despite the fact

that they share the

same loyalty!

Cati now holds the

actions on this card


Cati selects a region. In this region

she only has one loyal army, and so

can only remove a single unit.

She cannot remove Hope’s

tribe (gray) because

they share a loyalty.

Instead, she may

eliminate the enemy road or

the enemy army.


Early End

If, after scoring a Dominance

Check, the leading player has at

least four more victory points than

the next highest scoring player, the

game is over and that player wins!

Dominance Checks

Dominance Check event cards are resolved when purchased

by a player or when triggered during cleanup. When re-

solved, take account of the game-state. If a single coalition

has the most blocks in play and at least four more than all

other coalitions (uncombined), the Dominance Check is

successful. Otherwise the check is unsuccessful. Example: If

the British coalition has eight blocks and the other two coalitions

both have four blocks, the British Coalition would be dominant.

The result of this check determines what happens next.

Unsuccessful Check

Players will score points based on the number of cylinders they have in play (even zero).

A cylinder is considered to be in play if it is not on a player board.

The player with the most cylinders in play scores three victory points.

The player with the second most cylinders in play scores one victory point.

If there is a tie, add up the victory points for the

tied places and then divide that number by the

number of tied players (rounding down) e.g. two

players tied for first place will both score two points


Successful Check

Players loyal to the Dominant Coalition score

victory points based on their influence points

(page 7). Each loyal player has one influence

point plus the sum of their gifts, prizes, and the

number of patriots in their court.

The player with the most influence

scores five victory points.

The player with the second most scores

three victory points.

The player with the third most scores

one victory point.

If there is a tie, add up the victory points for the

tied places and then divide that number by the

number of tied players (rounding down).

After awarding points for the successful

check, the region settles into an uneasy peace.

Remove all coalition blocks from the board.

Final Dominance Check

Any points earned during the final Dominance

Check are doubled. This doubling occurs before

any victory points are split in the case of ties for

influence or cylinders.

The third dominance check has just been bought in a three

player game with Cati (blue), Blake (red), and Hope (gray).

The Russian Coalition is dominant. Cati and Blake are both

loyal to that coalition. Cati has the most influence and scores

five points, Blake scores three.

A few turns later the fourth dominance check appears in the

market and is bought. For the sake of example, there are no

spies or gifts in play.

No Coalition is dominant. Blake has the most cylinders in play

so he would score six points (3 x 2 for the final dominance

check) Cati and Hope would each score one (1x2÷2).

Because the check was successful, all of the blocks are now

cleared from the board.



Playing with Wakhan

This section introduces an automated opponent called Wakhan. Thematically, this opponent

represents some radical ideology (theological or philosophical) that has taken hold across the

region and that transcends traditional loyalties.

Wakhan can be faced by one or two human players. However, this is not a cooperative variant

and only one player (or Wakhan) can win the game.

Setting Up

When setting up a game with Wakhan, make the following adjustments:

Include Wakhan as a player when determining the size of the deck.

Shuffle the deck of 24 AI cards and place them in a stack face down.

Wakhan will use a spare set of player cylinders. Wakhan does not take a loyalty dial and

will instead place her gifts on her aid card. Place Wakhan’s pieces to the right of the

player who chooses their loyalty last. Wakhan will take the first turn of the game.

General Rules

Wakhan must pay all costs, including bribes, just like a regular player.

If Wakhan’s court cards have a Special Ability that says she “may” do something, Wakhan al-

ways will.

Wakhan is not loyal to a coalition; rather, Wakhan is effectively loyal to all coalitions. Wakhan

can hold loyalty prizes and patriots belonging to different coalitions. Nevertheless, she will

always assume a single pragmatic loyalty.

Wakhan’s Pragmatic Loyalty is always the leftmost loyalty on the AI card that is not

shared by any other player. This loyalty is used to determine the blocks she places, moves,

and battles with. Do not use Wakhan’s pragmatic loyalty to determine who rules in a re-

gion; instead, when assessing whether Wakhan is competing for control of a region, count

her tribes and only the most numerous Armies of a single coalition in that region towards

the number of her ruling pieces.

If Wakhan needs to choose a suit, Wakhan will always

select the current favored suit. If Wakhan must discard a

Leveraged card and has no coins, Wakhan does not need

to discard cards (just as if she had 2 cards in her hand


Frequently, Wakhan will have to chose a specific court

card. To decide which card to chose, Wakhan will always

pick the card with the highest card priority as described

in the list on the right.

Example: Wakhan must betray a card. First, following the standard rules, it

needs to be a card where she has at least one spy. Wakhan will first look for

cards with her spies on her opponent’s courts. If there is more than one option,

she will prioritize those that match the favored suit. If there is still more than

one option, she will look for patriots of the dominant coalition etc.

Wakhan’s Turn

On Wakhan’s turn, draw an AI card and place it face up to the immediate right of the AI card

draw deck in a discard pile. You will use this face-up card and the back of the card now on top

of the draw deck to make decisions for Wakhan. If the draw deck is empty, reshuffle the entire

discard pile (including the card just drawn) to create a new draw deck and draw again.

Card Priority

High: Opponent’s card

Matches favored suit

Patriot of the dominant coalition

Has a prize that matches

the dominant coalition.

Other Patriot


Highest Ranking

Low: Highest numbered card


Wakhan then performs two actions. To determine which actions Wakhan takes, look at the cen-

tral Actions section of the drawn AI card; start at top action and work down, performing each

valid action in turn until Wakhan has performed the allotted two-action limit. If Wakhan still

has an action left after performing the bottom action, start again at the top and work your way

down again until two (non-bonus) actions have been taken. Remember: as per the regular rules, actions taken

with cards in the favored suit are bonus actions and do not count against her two-action limit. Remember too that each of these cards

can still only be used for a single action per turn.

Wakhan’s Ambition. If Wakhan is able to purchase the Dominance Check and score the

most victory points and/or win the game, she will use her action to do that, regardless of

the actions listed on her AI card.

Once both actions are used, or if there are no valid choices available, Wakhan will take any

available bonus actions from the court cards in her tableau that have not yet been used for ac-

tions. When taking bonus actions, Wakhan will always start with the leftmost, unused card on

her court and take the leftmost action on the card, skipping any actions that cannot be taken.

Remember too that each of Wakhan’s court cards can still only be used for a single action per turn.

Wakhan’s Core Action

Wakhan does not use the two core actions like a human players. Instead, she has one core action:

Radicalize. When Wakhan takes the radicalize action, she will purchase one

card from the market and then attempt to play it immediately. This counts as a

single action.

When radicalizing cards, Wakhan will consider:

If there are specific instructions: Follow them. Ties are decided by the cheapest card in

the market with the highest card number breaking any further ties.

If there is a Dominance Check in the Market: Wakhan only purchases a Dominance

Check event card if she will score the most points from the check (and/or wins). How-

ever, when a Dominance Check is in the market, Wakhan will choose the cheapest Pa-

triot loyal to the dominant coalition, then the cheapest card with the most Army and/or

Road impact icons, or, if no coalition is dominant, she will chose the cheapest card with

the most spy and/or tribe impact icons. If there is a tie, use the highest card number.

Otherwise: Use the red and black arrows. The red arrow will point to either “Top” or

“Bottom” on the back of the top card of the draw deck and determines which market

row to purchase from. The black arrow will point to a number between 0 and 5 on the

back of the top card of the draw deck. This tells you which column to purchase from.

If that card is not a valid choice, pick the next valid card to its left; if Wakhan exhausts

that row then switch to the original position in the other market row. Remember, like a

human player, Wakhan cannot purchase a card she has paid a rupee to this turn!

After purchasing a card from the market, Wakhan will play the card if she can afford to bribe the

player ruling the region associated with that card. If she cannot pay the bribe, she will discard

the card.

Wakhan should play the card to the left side of her court if the red arrow is pointing to top or the

right side of her court if the red arrow is pointing to bottom.

When playing a card, Wakhan will resolve the impact icons as normal with 3 modifications:

Wakhan’s Spies. Place spies on the highest priority cards associated with the played

card’s region where Wakhan does not have the most spies.

Wakhan’s Roads. Place roads on consecutive borders following the region priority on

the AI card (leftmost first). If roads remain to be placed after going through the these

regions, resolve the priority a second time.

Wakhan’s Patriots. Wakhan always places blocks based on pragmatic loyalty. Ignore the

colour of the Patriot Impact Icons for armies and roads.


Wakhan’s Card-Based Actions

Most of the actions on Wakhan’s AI card are card-based actions. Unless otherwise noted, these

actions will always follow the same restrictions as those taken by players e.g. Wakhan cannot tax a

player unless she rules a territory where that player has a court card and that player has some rupees outside of their

tax shelter.

When selecting which card on her court will be used to take the listed action, Wakhan will al-

ways used the highest priority card among those that could legally take the action.

Many actions on the AI card will list a set of instructions and conditions which must be true in

order for the action to be taken. If these conditions cannot be met, the action is skipped. If no

conditions are stated, Wakhan will use the following default behavior when resolving the action.

Gift. Wakhan will buy the cheapest gift she can afford to buy, placing it on her

aid card. Remember: this Gift will count as influence in all three coalitions.

Build. Wakhan will build armies in the leftmost region as listed on the AI card

that she rules. She will spend as much of her money as possible.

Betray. Wakhan will betray the highest priority card with a loyalty prize where

she also has a spy, including those in her court. She will always take the loyalty


Battle. Wakhan will battle in the region where another player has pieces (tribes,

loyal armies or roads) and she has at least one army. If multiple regions fulfill

this condition, use the leftmost region as listed on the AI card. Once the region

is chosen she will try to destroy tribes, armies, and roads in that order. If no re-

gion is chosen, she will battle on the highest priority court card where she and

another player have spies.

If multiple players can be targeted in a battle action, use the red arrow to deter-

mine which player is targeted.

Tax. Wakhan will always tax players instead of market cards if able. She will

always tax from players with the most rupees first. If both players are tied, use

the red arrow to determine which player is targeted. If no players can be taxed,

she will tax from the market, taking rupees from the leftmost market cards and

using the red arrow to determine ties.

Move. Wakhan only moves armies and does not require any roads to facilitate

movement. When moving, Wakhan will only move her armies to adjacent re-

gions where other players have tribes, using the region priority on the AI card to

determine the choice between equally viable origins and destinations. She will

seek to have only as many armies as there are tribes in that region. Wakhan will

not move Armies if doing so would cause her to lose a ruler token.


When discarding cards from Wakhan’s court during cleanup, discard non-political cards first,

then non-patriots, then non-leveraged cards, then cards with the most player spies more than

Wakhan spies, fewest spies, lowest rank, not matching the favored suit, and then lowest card


Dominance Checks and Victory

Wakhan will claim VPs and victory just like a regular player. Remember that Wakhan is loyal to

all coalitions so she will be in the running no matter which coalition is dominant.




Game Design, Graphic Design, and Research: Cole Wehrle

Development: Drew Wehrle (Second Edition), Phil Eklund

(First Edition)

Design of Wakhan: Richard Wilkins

Editor: Travis D. Hill

Calligraphy for Cover: Josh Berer

Icon Illustrations: Abol Bahadori

Tabletop Simulator Module: Josh (AgentElrond)

Primary Playtesters: Blake Wehrle, Cati Wehrle, Chas Threlkeld, Graham MacDonald, Corey

Porter, Grayson Page and his group (Martin Weeks, Tony Au, and Jared Arkin), and the many

excellent players of the First Minnesota.

Design History and Dedication

The design of Pax Pamir began shortly after the release of Phil Eklund’s Pax Porfiriana in 2012.

At the back of the rulebook, Phil included a small note, urging anyone with an interesting set-

ting in mind to submit a design to Sierra Madre Games. Spurred by this request, I began work-

ing on several games, including an adaption of Lords of the Renaissance and a game on Russian

expansion in the Caucuses. Both of those designs failed to mature, but the work put me in direct

contact with Phil and got me thinking seriously about game design. In late 2013, as I helped Phil

playtest Greenland, he encouraged me to try my hand at a Pax design on The Great Game. The

design for the first edition was submitted to Sierra Madre Games in the fall of 2014 and was pub-

lished the following year after receiving additional development from Phil and Matt Eklund.

Though Pax Pamir was well-received, my own feelings on the first production were mixed. Sim-

ply put, I felt like I had strayed from some of my original hopes for an accessible Pax design

that was both more strategic and more dependent on emergent partnerships than Pax Porfiriana.

These feelings led to the creation of Pamir’s expansion, Khyber Knives. By the end of its develop-

ment, I had answered some of my initial misgivings, but I still felt that the game deserved a full

overhaul. Expansions are fundamentally additive, and some problems can only be addressed by

altering the foundations. So, after submitting the files to the factory, I wrote myself a long memo

on the design of Pax Pamir and tucked it away on the off-chance that I would have an opportu-

nity to revisit the project someday.

Khyber Knives sold as well as its predecessor, and the game continued to get good reviews. Pretty

soon it was out-of-print. As requests came in from other publishers for the license to Pax Pamir in

2016 and 2017, the possibility of a freshly-developed second edition became more likely. Without

knowing exactly what I was going to do with the final product, my brother Drew and I began

working on a new edition of Pax Pamir in December of 2017. As we worked on the design, we

found ourselves increasingly interested in the game’s overall product design, inspired by the

dramatic productions of games like Ortus Regni, Sol: Last Days of a Star, and the work of Jordan

Draper and Nate Hayden. Once we had a clear vision for the new edition, we brought the game

to Kickstarter in the fall of 2018. The game was successfully funded in September of 2018, rais-

ing nearly a quarter-of-a-million dollars. The design was finalized in December of that year.

This project would not have been possible without the support of our friends, family, and the

many fans of the game who encouraged us to take on this project and who helped raise the funds

required to print this edition. We happily dedicate the work of the past year to you all.

In addition, I’d like single out a trio of excellent mentors, without whom this game would not

exist: Samuel Baker, Phil Eklund, and Patrick Leder.

Special thanks are also owed to Dan

Thurot whose excellent critique of an

early iteration made the final game all

the better, to Alex Singh who crafted a

wonderful review (and video) just in time

for our launch, and to Joe Wiggins for the

care he and the team at Panda invested in

this project. I would also thank the team

at the University of Wyoming’s American

Heritage Center for access to many pieces

of artwork used in this game.

Pax Pamir: Second Edition, Second Printing, 2020

Game Published by Wehrlegig Games llc

This game is licensed under

Creative Commons license BY–NC–SA 4.0.

Reading the Great Game

Most of the stories about the Great Game reveal far more about the Western

imagination than they do about central Asia in the nineteenth century. Partly

this is a consequence of recent history. Many stories about this period were

produced during the Cold War and staked their relevance on the parallels

they drew between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. John Huston’s

rollicking adventure film The Man Who Would Be King (itself an adaption of

a earlier Kipling story) speaks as much to anxieties over the Vietnam War

as to the hubris of the British Empire. Even Peter Hopkirk’s The Great Game

(1992), an otherwise excellent and well-written history, cannot quite escape

the shadow of a half century of spy thrillers, nor should we expect it to.

Every creation reflects the values of its author and the world of its creation.

We may have escaped the shadow of the Cold War, but our own period is no

less vexed. Our histories brim with anxieties about representation, ideology,

and the limits of understanding. Thankfully, these concerns are well-suited to

any study of the Great Game.

For those looking to learn more about the period, begin with William

Dalrymple’s Return of a King (2012). Dalrymple’s book is particularly nota-

ble both for its gripping narrative style and its incredible archival range that

draws from a vast trove of poetry, history, and first-hand accounts. Many of

these sources were previously unpublished in English.

For those looking to go deeper, there are many excellent sources for further

reading. Be warned, the following books are quite expensive, so a library card

is recommended. The single most important source for the biographies in the

game and the game’s general narrative sense can be found in Fayż Muhammad

Kātib Hazārah’s Sirāj al-tawārīkh as translated by R.D. McChesney (2012).

For a more measured and scholarly view on the dynamics of Afghan poli-

tics in this period, see Christine Noelle’s State and Tribe in Nineteenth Century

Afghanistan (1997). I drew from this book extensively during the early stages

of the design, and it informed the game’s attempt to capture what political

will meant in the context of Afghanistan at this time with a largely zero-sum

economic system.

For those looking for a exhaustive treatment of European (especially British)

foreign policy in the region during this period, look to the work of M. E.

Yapp, especially Strategies of British India, Britain, Iran and Afghanistan (1980).

The game’s emphasis on intelligence resources comes largely from C.A.

Bayly’s magisterial Empire and Information (2000). Bayly argues that a large

portion of the British success in India was tied to their ability to control

information and participate in an economy of intelligence with the other

centers of political power. The general theories of empire and dominance

come from Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper’s Empires in World History:

Power and the Politics of Difference (2011). Burbank and Cooper suggest that

empire is not hegemonic in practice, and that an effective imperial opera-

tion requires a robust infrastructure that is sensitive to traditional centers of

power. This book also greatly informed the foundational political theories in

my design for Root (2018).