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
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.
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
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
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.
All court cards have these features.
Some court cards have these features.
Some court cards hold strong opinions.
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 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.
EXAMPLE THREE PLAYER TABLE LAYOUT
DECK CONSTRUCTION AT A GLANCE
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.
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...
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
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:
prevent your rupees
from being taxed.
Military Stars serve
as a final score
Political Stars enable
you to maintain a
allow you to hold more
cards in your hand.
The military suit commands
armies and helps secure a coali-
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.
LOYALTY CHANGE EXAMPLE
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
HOSTAGE ACTION EXAMPLE
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.
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.
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
☛ 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.
ON A COURT CARD
IN A REGION
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
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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-
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.
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.
High: Opponent’s card
Matches favored suit
Patriot of the dominant coalition
Has a prize that matches
the dominant coalition.
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
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
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
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
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
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).