Between 230 and 221 B.C., the ambitious and extremely young king of Qin, Ying Zheng, unified China, adding all the other so-called Warring States (Zhan Guo) to his empire.
The game is set immediately after this conquest. The king called himself Emperor, but the conquered territories cannot be considered an Empire yet. The local population of the freshly annexed Warring States still identify their kingdoms as independent nations, each one having its own traditions, and laws and not always being very keen on the idea of losing them.
In ZhanGuo, you have been assigned the challenging task of contributing to the process of unifying the empire, in order to finally render the separate Warring States into an united Empire.
In each of the five rounds of the game, you must make the best of the cards you get. You can play each card either on your own player board to increase your personal power in the empire, or on the gameboard to recruit manpower, construct the palaces the emperor desires, re-assign officials, install governors, and help build the Great Wall.
Whoever is able to make the greatest contribution to the emperor's cause will be the winner.