I bless the reigns down in Gaixia.

Not one, not two, but three kingdoms—what a deal! Wait, what? It’s a game? OK, then—one game…but it’s still a deal! Like Reigns: Kings and Queens and Reigns: Game of Thrones before it, Reigns: Three Kingdoms is a turn-based, deck-building strategy game, this time set near the end of the Han Dynasty in China. Your task is to rise through the ranks and lead the region.

In Reigns: Three Kingdoms, you have to make decisions to navigate the local political landscape. Along the way, you learn about the history and the people as you build a set of allies who appear as cards in your battle deck. The decision-making process is mechanically very easy; you swipe the dialogue card either left or right. Each direction will textually show you what your decision is and what your decision will mean for your standing in the game.

There are four statistics meters at the top of the screen. These represent your wealth (material resources), popularity (with the common folk), might (military strength), and virtue. The game lets you know, very early, that the best situation is to keep all four aspects in balance. Indeed, if you let one of these get all the way to zero or all the way to maximum, you die. If you get too bad at something, you are a target. If you get too good in these areas, well, let’s just say Emperors are not known for how much they love competition. Watch your back.

Your stats will decrease or increase based on how you answer questions or react to situations put to you by the friendly faces on the cards you are dealt. This is where the game plays on your human nature. Most people don’t like to come off as being a massive jerk, so they will answer like a nice-guy or in a way which may sound like a logical, reasonable solution that should be good for everyone. Unfortunately for you, altruist, answering in this way will make you very popular with the people. This will quickly max your popularity score, which will get you (even more quickly) killed.

Sometimes, you just need to be the jerk to stay alive—at least in this game.

Once you have answered a few questions and encountered some folks, you get to add the recruits to your deck of allies. Sooner or later, you will face an opponent, and then the fighting begins. Your followers will appear as cards to be used in a turn-based combat scene. Each card will have two stats on it—an up-arrow indicates how much damage that card will do to an opponent, and a heart displays how many hit points that card has before it is out of commission for the current battle. Combat strategy is just as important as the  decision-making part of the game. The card which represents your character will show up in the battle deck. You don’t have a lot of hit points, and, at the start of combat, you don’t do much damage. On the other hand, you gain 1 point of damage for every turn you fight, so you have to weigh your options.

When you die (and you will do this a lot), you will find yourself in the tender care of Synaptic Insight Technology Systems. I can hear you saying “Whoa! That doesn’t sound at all like something from the Han Dynasty of ancient China!” You are quite right. Where you really are is in a lab at Synaptic, getting your consciousness zapped back in time and plunked into one of your ancestors. This allows you to live out scenarios so Synaptic can collect data. Welcome to the game, lab rat!

The upside is that when you die after cheezing off the emperor, the commoners, the army, the nobles, or whoever else feels you need to die, you simply wake up in the lab and get sent back into a new body to try again. Unlike the situation in Edge of Tomorrow, you don’t get to relive the exact same day over and over. You will be faced with new decisions and new encounters, so you will have to learn what kind of decision combinations will give you the best chance at survival.

All things considered, Reigns: Three Kingdoms is a pretty good game. The stylized visuals are well done. The game has some interesting story and human interaction elements. You will need to employ strategy, so it isn’t just a walk in the park—there is some challenge to be had. As I write this review, the game can be purchased at the Nintendo website for $2.99, so there is very good value for money here, as well. As you make real progress, the game opens new options and can put you on the path to ruling several regions.

So, even better than three, right?