Zhang Jiao
Zhang Jiao 张角
General of Heaven 天公将军

Lightning Strike 雷击
 Whenever Zhang Jiao plays an escape, he can select any character and have them flip a judgment. If it is a spade, they are dealt two units of lightning damage.

Dark Magic 鬼道
 After a judgment is flipped, Zhang Jiao can discard any black card to replace the judgment card. The original card that was flipped then goes into Zhang Jiao's hand.

Amber Sky 黄天
 King Ability: Other heroes can give Zhang Jiao one escape or lightning during their turn.
  • When Zhang Jiao uses "Lightning Strike" successfully, he is considered to be the source of the damage. As such, characters with retaliatory abilities can target Zhang Jiao when they are damaged with this ability.
  • When multiple judgement tinkerers are in play, what matters is the seating arrangement relative to the location of the judgment.  Starting with the player that flipped the card, we then go to the right.  Each tinkerer will get a chance to change it in turn.  After one time around the judgment goes into effect.  An important note is that the player that flipped the judgment gets the chance to change it first so they have the least security.  
  • "Dark Magic" allows Zhang Jiao to swap out equipment cards or hand cards when changing judgement cards.
  • If Zhang Jiao is the king and a hero character decides to give Zhang Jiao an Escape or Lightning, the card is given to Zhang Jiao face-up, allowing all other characters to see the identity of the card.

Strengths Weaknesses 
  • Zhang Jiao's "Lightning Strike" is an amazing deterrent and almost flips the mechanics of the game upside down. While most other characters do not like to be Attacked, Zhang Jiao can activate his ability when he is under fire. 
  • If two or more enemies are Chained together, Zhang Jiao can do an insane amount of damage to them with "Lightning Strike."
  • If Zhang Jiao has the Eight Trigrams armor equipped, he is incredibly powerful and can activate "Lightning strike" more frequently. 
  • Zhang Jiao is very powerful when Lightning is in play. He has better capacity for storing 2-9 of spade cards than Sima Yi because "Dark Magic" allows him to influence judgement cards with hand cards and equipped cards. Additionally, if a 2-9 of spade card is flipped on an ally that is undergoing Lightning judgement, Zhang Jiao can swap this card with a club and pick up the 2-9 of spade card to use against an enemy with the lightning judgement.
  • Unlike Sima Yi, Zhang Jiao retains the original judgement card when he uses "Dark magic." This results in no net loss of cards. Additionally, his capacity for changing judgement cards is frequently larger than that of Sima Yi, as he can equip black equipment cards for judgement tinkering, whereas Sima Yi can only influence judgement cards with his hand cards.
  • Zhang Liao's "Lightning Strike" offers him no defense against cards and abilities that require Attacks to be played to avoid damage.
    • As stated, the order of turns determines who has the 'final say' in judgement. This is not a weakness per-say, but if Zhang Jiao has fewer people to his immediate right than Sima Yi does, he can be at a disadvantage if the two are not on the same team.
    • Zhang Jiao's control over judgement cards is not as complete as Sima Yi's is. Zhang Jiao can only force judgement cards to be black, not red. As a result, he cannot force Capture or Eight Trigrams judgement flips to pass like Sima Yi can.
    • Once it becomes apparent that Zhang Jiao has run out of Escape cards, his enemies will pummel him with Attacks. Because he has no other defensive ability, he can die very quickly. 
    • Although "Dark Magic" allows Zhang Jiao to retain the original judgement card and he suffers no net loss of cards, he will eventually run out of black cards if he swaps with red judgement cards. If he swaps out all of his black cards, he will no longer have any control of judgement cards. This is not a big weakness of his, but something that should be kept in mind when using him.
    • Although the Chains tool card allows Zhang Jiao to strike multiple people at one time with "Lighting Strike," his enemies can chain themselves to him or his teammates, meaning that Zhang Jiao cannot target them with this ability without hurting himself or his teammates.

    Notable Combinations:
    • Sima Yi - Whether he is an ally or enemy, Sima Yi always has profound effects on Zhang Jiao's "Lightning Strike." He can either help Zhang Jiao strike his enemies more often, or prevent Zhang Jiao's power from working. If Sima Yi is an enemy, Zhang Jiao should work to kill him as soon as possible. Targeting him with "Lightning Strike" could wear him down quickly, but it will not come without a heavy cost. Zhang Jiao will have to discard an Escape, swap a judgement card with a spade (Sima will change the judgement card to a non-spade if a spade is first flipped), and lose an additional card if Sima Yi survives due to his "Feedback."
    • Zhen Ji - Zhen Ji's "River Goddess" relies upon a series of judgements. If a red card shows up in this ability, Zhang Jiao can come to the rescue and replace it with a black card. These two can both enjoy benefits if her flipped judgement is an Escape (all escapes are red), as Zhang Jiao will get an Escape and Zhen Ji can continue her power. If these two are allies, Zhang Jiao should be careful to not exhaust all of his black cards as he will not be able to influence other judgement cards later on. If Zhen Ji is an enemy, however, Zhang Jiao is not able to decrease the number of cards that she draws when activating "River Goddess." He can swap out cards that he thinks are a threat to him, but this will not decrease her net intake.
    • Guo Jia - Gou Jia is frequently Zhang Jiao's loyalist if he is the king. These two work well together, as enemies will not want to Attack either character because Attacking Zhang Jiao will likely activate "Lightning Strike" and Attacking Gou Jia will allow him to draw cards and possibly give Zhang Jiao more Escapes or spade cards. If Gou Jia is an enemy, beware of directly using "Lightning Strike" on him. He will get to keep the spade judgement card and he draws two cards for each unit of damage received. This results in a net intake of five (!) cards for him. If possible, chain Gou Jia to another enemy and target the other enemy so Gou Jia at least will not be able to keep the judgement card.
    • Yuan Shu (with Zhang Jiao as king) - Yuan Shu's insane drawing power and hero alignment make him an ideal loyalist to Zhang Jiao. Because he draws so many cards, he will likely draw an Escape and an Attack. However, Yuan Shu could easily be a rebel instead. His drawing power also allows him to potential draw a lot of tool cards that can be used to undermine Zhang Jiao, so do not make any assumptions about his role until he plays his first turn.
    • Zhuge Liang - Zhuge Liang can be a very good asset to Zhang Jiao. If Zhang Jiao has the Eight Trigrams, Zhuge Liang can force its flipped judgement to pass when he Attacks Zhang Jiao and he can also force the judgement for "Lightning Strike" to be a spade card. These little courtesies for Zhang Jiao go a long way in the battle against his enemies. However, if Zhuge Liang is directly upstream of Zhang Jiao, he can ensure that Zhang Jiao never draws Escapes during his turn.
    • Diao Chan/Lu Bu (with Zhang Jiao as king)- These characters can either be loyalists or rebels. Diao Chan can force Zhang Jiao to Duel with another male character, but she is also one of the few hero characters that can pass him Escapes in the first few expansions. Lu Bu can be a good loyalist because "Matchless" forces Zhang Jiao to play two Escapes for each of his Attacks, allowing him to do "Lightning Strike" twice! At the same time, Lu Bu also has a better chance of damaging Zhang Jiao by Attacking him than other characters do.
    • Pang Tong - Pang Tong can be a friend or enemy. While he can Chain the enemies together easily, he can also Chain Zhang Jiao to his enemies and prevent him from using "Lightning Strike" on them without damaging himself too.
    • Liu Bei - Liu Bei can give Zhang Jiao Escape and spade cards and Attack him all on the same turn to activate his power. 
    • Guan Yu/Xiahou Yuan - These characters have abilities that make it easier for them to Attack Zhang Jiao to activate his "Lightning Strike."
    • Gan Ning/Zhang Liao - These characters are frequently powerful enemies since they specialize in card destruction. If Zhang Jiao has no hand cards, he cannot use his ability. If you see another player choose Zhang Liao when you are the king, you should not always assume that they are a rebel, as he can also be a good loyalist choice. However, if you see Gan Ning, you can assume that he is a rebel. Gan Ning can do more card-destruction damage than Zhang Liao in a shorter period of time and cannot be as good of a loyalist as Zhang Liao.
    • Huang Zhong - Huang Zhong is Zhang Jiao's arch-nemesis. Because Huang Zhong can easily set up the conditions to make his Attacks Inescapable, Zhang Jiao's "Lightning Strike" becomes useless when Huang Zhong Attacks him. Huang Zhong is particularly deadly against Zhang Jiao when he uses Wine. Always assume that Huang Zhong is a rebel if you pick Zhang Jiao as king and act accordingly!
    • Xiao Qiao - Xiao Qiao's "Beauty" turns all of her spade judgement  cards into heart cards, even if Zhang Jiao switches her judgement cards with "Dark Magic." This essentially makes her immune to "Lightning Strike" and the Lightning tool card. Additionally, Chaining her to another enemy and using these tactics against both of the will likely backfire, as she can use "Fantasy" to pass the damage back to Zhang Jiao or one of his allies.
    • Yan Liang & Wen Chou/Xun Yu/Dian Wei - These characters have ways of damaging Zhang Jiao without Attacking him.
     King Zhang Jiao is one of the most popular king choices when playing online when there are five or more players per game. He can deal an incredible amount of damage to the rebels in a short amount of time. Also, rebels will be afraid to Attack him out of fear that he will use his power. By holding a lot of cards in his hand, he can easily bluff and prevent them from Attacking him, even if he has no Escape cards in his hand.
    Zhang Jiao's effectiveness dramatically decreases when he only has three units of health as he can only hold a maximum of three cards. As a result, he is not an outstanding loyalist unless the king is Liu Bei. 
     RebelAgain, Zhang Jiao is notably weaker if he is not in the king position. That being said, he is a serviceable rebel, as he can target the king with his "Lightning Strike."
     SpyZhang Jiao is a mediocre spy pick. Because he is such a high-profile character and he only has three units of health, the rebels will classify him as a big threat the moment that he starts to support the king. They will kill him quickly to prevent him from using his powers against them, whether he is the loyalist or not.

    Final Remarks:
    Hopefully it is abundantly clear by now that Zhang Jiao is by far the most complex character in San Guo Sha. He is a lot of fun to use, but he must be used extremely carefully and the player that uses him must pay very close attention to detail. He is not a good choice for beginners! Always keep a lot of hand cards to bluff rebels into thinking that you have Escapes. If you are using him as the king,  pursue Huang Zhong and Gan Ning with extreme prejudice. These two are almost always rebels because their powers can do the most damage to you. If they were loyalist picks, you cannot be blamed for attacking them - it is the loyalist's fault for choosing a character that pose that much of a threat to you. If somebody Attacks you on their first turn without undermining you in any other way, it is very possible that they are your loyalist, so you should not necessarily target them with "Lightning Strike." If you are a rebel against Zhang Jiao and you are to his immediate right, you can usually safely Attack him on your first turn unless you or another character chose an obvious counter pick. Zhang Jiao may think that you are a loyalist helping him to activate his power.