Cao Cao
Cao Cao 曹操
Martial Emperor of Wei 魏武帝

Evil Hero 奸雄
When Cao Cao is damaged by a card, he can immediately put it into his hand.

King Ability: If Cao Cao needs to use an Escape, a member of Wei can use an Escape on his behalf.
  • Cao Cao will pick up only the card that hurt him via "Evil Hero."  Here are some of the situations:
If Cao Cao is hurt by: He puts in his hand:
 Duel  Only the Duel card and none of the Attack cards
 Blaze   Only the Blaze card 
 Coerce  Only the Attack card since that is what damaged him
 Serpent Spear  Both of the cards used as the attack
 Axe  Only the Attack card, not the cards used to break through the Escape
 Through Chains  The card that caused the original damage
 Through Xiao Qiao  The card that would have hurt her before she passed the damage to Cao Cao
 Abilities (e.g. Xiahuo Dun)  Nothing, since it was a power and not a card that damaged him.
  • If Cao Cao acquires a card that targets all characters via "Evil Hero," it still affects the remaining of the players.  If Cao Cao is damaged halfway through Hail of Arrows, Cao Cao can pick it up, but all the rest of the players still need to use an Escape.  
  • When king Cao Cao needs an Escape, another member of Wei can activate their Eight Trigrams to help him out via "Escort." This way, the loyalist and the king can benefit from the same armor.  
 Strengths  Weaknesses
  • Cao Cao is very powerful in games in which cards like Barbarians and Hail of Arrows are prevalent. These tool cards target all characters, and Cao Cao can voluntarily take damage by these cards in order to put them in his hand via "Evil Hero" to use on his turn. Cao Cao can cause a large amount of damage by acquiring these cards an re-using them on his turn. 
  • Cao Cao is also powerful with Duel. He can 'bully' weak characters with this card. If Cao Cao is damaged when he Duels another character, he can put the Duel card back in his hand and use it immediately. If Cao Cao has enough health, he can ensure that he will damage his target by putting the card in his hand each time he loses the Duel.
  • Cao Cao can be a great team player. See the 'Notable Combinations' section for more details.
  • "Escort" is a powerful king ability. Some Wei characters are very likely to be able to give Cao Cao Escapes, like Zhen Ji or Yu Jin. Also, a Wei character with the Eight Trigrams has a good possibility to consistently provide Cao Cao with Escapes
  • "Evil Hero" requires Cao Cao to take damage. If Cao Cao does not manage this power carefully, he may end up with few units of health.
  • Cao Cao is particularly vulnerable to Capture. If Cao Cao takes a lot of damage from cards then falls prey to Capture, he will have to discard most if not all of the cards that he picked up and will end his turn with little health.
  • Some characters have abilities that can deal direct damage to Cao Cao. These abilities bypass "Evil Hero" and rob Cao Cao of his one and only advantage.

Notable Combinations:
  • Zhen Ji (with Cao Cao as king) - Zhen Ji is a great loyalist to king Cao Cao. Her "Overturned Country" allows her to use an black-suited card as Escape, so she can easily protect Cao Cao from Attacks.  
  • Xiao Qiao - Xiao Qiao can use "Fantasy" to pass damage to Cao Cao. Cao Cao draws X cards, X being the difference between his current and maximum health levels, then activate "Evil Hero" to gain the card that would have originally hurt Xiao Qiao. As a result, Cao Cao gains a large number of cards for little damage. If Cao Cao plays Barbarians or Hail of Arrows, Xiao Qiao can pass the damage she would receive to Cao Cao, and Cao Cao can place the card in his hand to use again immediately. This process self-perpetuates until Xiao Qiao runs out of heart-suited hand cards or Cao Cao runs out of health. All of the other characters will more than likely receive a lot of damage, as this entire process occurs during Cao Cao's turn and they do not have a chance to draw cards to prevent the damage. 
  • Yuan Shao - Yuan Shao's "Random Strike" can provide Cao Cao with an advantage. If he selects two cards that would be useful for Cao Cao to use as Hail of Arrows, Cao Cao can voluntarily take damage and place the two cards in his hand via "Evil Hero."
  • Zhu Rong - Cao Cao and Zhu Rong can create a self-perpetuating loop. When a character plays Barbarians, Cao Cao can take damage to place it in his hand via "Evil Hero." When Cao Cao plays this card during his turn, Zhu Rong can place it in her hand via "Giant Elephant." When she plays it during her turn, Cao Cao can voluntarily take damage from it to place it back in his hand again, and the cycle continues until Cao Cao runs out of health (or until all of the enemies die). 
  • Xun You - Xun You's "Element of Surprise" can provide Cao Cao with many cards. This power allows Xun You to use all of the cards in his hand as one tool card. If he chooses Barbarians or Hail of Arrows, Cao Cao can pick up all of Xun You's hand cards via "Evil Hero."
  • Da Qiao - Da Qiao's "Country Scene" gives her a large amount of leverage against Cao Cao. She can easily use Capture on him, which is a serious problem for Cao Cao for reasons outlined in the 'Weaknesses' section.
  • Zhang Chun Hua - Zhang Chun Hua's "Unfeeling" bypasses "Evil Hero," robbing Cao Cao of his only advantage. 
  • Dian Wei/Zhang Jiao/Ling Tong/etc - These characters have abilities that deal direct damage without using cards. Cao Cao cannot use "Evil Hero" to pick up cards when these characters use their abilities to damage him.
 KingWith the base set and the wind expansion, Cao Cao is a good king choice. He is one of the more advanced king characters in these sets and he can use "Evil Hero" to keep Barbarians and Hail or Arrows and re-use them during his turn. However, with more advanced expansions, Cao Cao becomes progressively weaker as more advanced characters emerge and "Evil Hero" becomes less useful. 
 LoyalistCao Cao is a competent, but not outstanding loyalist. He can use "Evil Hero" to magnify the amount of damage done to rebels by Barbarians and Hail of Arrows, but one must also keep in mind that the king will also be targeted by these cards. 
 RebelCao Cao is a decent rebel. He can use "Evil Hero" to gain Barbarians and Hail of Arrows and deal a large amount of damage to the king. Also, this can be useful to clear out weak rebel allies to prevent enemies from drawing a three card bounty for killing them.
 SpyCao Cao can perform well as the spy, but there may be better choices. As with the other roles, Cao Cao effectively magnifies the damage dealt by Barbarians and Hail of Arrows. This is good because he can deal a large amount of damage to all characters in a short amount of time, but realize that Cao Cao targets all characters. It is difficult for him to help the losing team when using this tactic. 

Final Remarks:
Cao Cao is a strategic character that unfortunately 'fell by the wayside' as more advanced characters were released. The most successful strategy for using Cao Cao does not change as more expansions are added to the character deck, however it becomes less useful. "Evil Hero" is powerful, but it must be managed carefully. In general, it is best used when other characters play Hail of Arrows or Barbarians. When using Cao Cao, be very weary of Capture. This card puts Cao Cao at a huge disadvantage. 

Alternate Appearances:
Cao Cao 3
Cao Cao 4
Cao Cao 2