1) Tongo Rules


Use your influence to navigate the finite possibilities within the material continuum and build your assets beyond those of your competitors. Can you find the opportunity that matches the hand you have been dealt and bring the two together when the timing is just right? Will you take from the Divine Treasury or be left behind in the Vault of Eternal Destitution?


The person who builds the strongest hand without running out of influence wins Strongest card combinations are when cards in the hand match cards on the floor using the same number and suit and can incorporate the dice to form chains of three.

The one who has the strongest hand after a successful Confront or Acquire wins.

Card Values:

Ace = 1 and Queens are removed from both standard decks. King = 12, Jack = 11

Suits in Order of  Value: Diamonds, Hearts, Spades, Clubs

Setting up the Game:

1)      Dealer gives each player 4 cards from Player Deck (circular cards). The remaining cards form the draw pile.

2)      From the Options Deck (rectangular cards) the Dealer places 2 cards face down vertically in the upper part of each of the eight table sections known as the floor and 1 card face up vertically. The remaining cards are placed face down in the lower part of the eight table sections forming the free exchange in groups of 3 horizontally.

3)      Place the three 4 sided dice in front of the dealer (1-4, 5-8, 9-12)

4)      Each player receives 1 Evade token and 1 Reserves Token.

5) Each player receives 2 chip stacks equaling 100 chips representing their influence points for paying in game costs (i.e. Buy, Sell, Exchange, Evade etc.).

6)     The Dealer declares the Buy In Cost which is the initial amount each player must deposit to the pot to play. This amount can be used later. (See Leveraging the Buy In).

7) Dealer declares the starting Buy, Sell and Exchange costs to start and the raise limit. The Risk is equal to the Sell Cost – the Buy Cost. (I usually start with Buy, Sell and Exchange starting at 5 with each influence chip worth 5). Pin the counters above the appropriate value.

8)      Dealer rolls the dice.

9)      The Dealer then spins the wheel and the person to their left goes next.   


Regular Turn:

1)      Player must pay the Risk Cost to play.

Risk = Sell Cost minus Buy Cost

If a player cannot pay the risk they must fold by discarding their hand face down on the table. A folded hand is then taken out of play. The only way to avoid paying the risk is when the Buy Cost is greater than the Sell Cost in which case the risk is 0, by Retreating, Converting Reserves or using an Evade Token. A player  also declare Confront or Acquire before paying the risk.

2)      Set New Rates:

Lower Rates - 

Player can choose to decrease the buy, sell and/or exchange cost by paying the difference.

Example: If the Buy is set to 15 and it is lowered by 2 chip values to 5 then you pay 2 chips.

The Buy Cost, Sell Cost and Exchange Cost cannot be set to 0 or less. 

3)                 A player can pay the BuySell and/or Exchange cost once per turn to take the appropriate action. The cost is paid using chips equal to the amount the rate is set to for the specific action. One can also Leverage the Buy In once in the game which means to use the initial cost they paid to start the game to cover the cost of an action.

Buy: Turn up a card on the facing floor.

Sell: Turn down a face up card on the facing floor.

Exchange:  Swap a face down card from the facing floor with one in the facing exchange or a face down card from the facing floor to an adjacent floor.

A player can exchange a face down card from the facing floor with a face down card in the facing exchange for free if they have already paid the risk cost. It is for this reason that the bottom row of cards around the board is known as the Free Exchange.

If a player is exchanging a card to or from an adjacent floor they must pay the exchange cost times the number of adjacent floors they are moving a card to. This could be a maximum of 4 times the exchange cost.

A card cannot be exchanged with a card in an adjacent exchange, just the floor.

A card can be exchanged across multiple floors regardless of whether the cards on those floors are face up or down. Only the card on the floor it is coming from and the card it is being exchanged with must be face down or in a sold position.

Example: If the value of each chip is equal to 5 and the Buy, Sell and Exchange rates are set to 5, then it only costs 1 chip to Buy (turn a card face up), Sell (turn a card face down) or Exchange a card (Move a face down card left or right).

4)      Set New Rates:

Raise Rates: Player can choose to increase the buy, sell and/or exchange cost by paying the difference.

5) Roll Dice: You can roll all 3 dice as long as one of them is on the floor facing you. The dice are essential to making a strong hand.  The dice are used to strengthen an existing matching set of cards from the hand and floor making a pair into three of a kind. A card in hand plus dice does not constitute a pair, there must be a card in hand matching a card on the floor plus the dice to equal three of a kind. Dice are considered wild and can represent any single suit. All players can use the values from the dice to compliment their hand but can only re-roll them if there is at least one of the dies sitting on the floor facing them. If a die falls more to one side of the line dividing the floors then that is the floor it belongs to but if it is uncertain then the dice will be accessible from both floors. 6)      On a players turn, anytime after they decide if they want to set new rates, a player can either choose to Confront, AcquireEvade (pay), or Convert Reserves.


Special Actions:


Before paying the Risk a player can choose not to pay the Risk and choose to Retreat which means they spin the wheel and pass. 

A player cannot Retreat on consecutive turns or after a turn where they evaded.

—————————————————————————————— Confront

A player can choose to confront another player when they believe they are in the best position to win before they pay the risk, after they raise rates or in response to a player who has declared Acquire.

If the person being confronted does not evade with an evade token check to see if any other players wish to Confront the Confronter. All players involved in the Confront challenge show their hands and the rest fold. The player with the strongest hand that matches any single floor on the board wins the game. A player who has declared confront cannot evade. If the challenged player evades using an evade token, the player who declared confront ends their turn and the next player begins.


A player cannot confront a player that evaded with an evade token on their last turn, declare confront or be confronted on consecutive turns, or declare confront if they retreated or evaded with an evade token on their last turn.

Although you cannot confront a player who has evaded with an evade token, you can confront a player who has paid to evade.


Acquire: When a player has the floor which best consolidates their hand and they wish to challenge all of the remaining players at the table, they can state that they wish to acquire the options face up on the floor facing them. The other players can choose to Confrontor Fold. If a person calls acquire and nobody calls confront they do not need to show their hand and automatically win. If multiple players Confront, it is the player to the left who must show the cards they are Confronting with first.  

A player cannot declare Acquire on consecutive turns, on the same turn another player declared Confront, or declare Confront on a turn following one in which they declared Acquire.



With Evade Token: A player can use their 1 free evade token to pass on their turn to avoid paying the risk or after they decided if they wish to raise rates and avoid a confront call until their next turn.

A player can discard 1 or more cards and then draw cards equal to the amount discarded. This ends their turn. The evade token is the only way to evade a player who is confronting.

A player cannot use their evade token on a turn after they retreatedconfronted or declared Acquire.

Paying to Evade: As long as a player still has their initial free evade token they can pay to evade instead of using their evade token. The evade cost is equal to the risk so essentially the risk cost is paid twice.  A player can discard 1 or more cards, then spin and then draw cards equal to the amount discarded. A player cannot pay to evade a player who is converting reserves, confronting or who has declared acquire.

A player cannot evade on consecutive turns or after a turn where they retreated.When discarding a card it is reshuffled into the draw pile.


Convert Reserves:            

When a player converts reserves they are wagering all of their remaining influence chips on that turn

The risk becomes 0 for all players.

All players that wish to stay in the game must use their Converting Reserves Token and wager their remaining influence or an amount equal to the player who originally converted reserves. On their turn they can still buy, sell, exchange and change rates as long as the costs don’t exceed the amount they have after converting reserves. 

Converting Reserves cannot be evaded using an Evade token.


7) Spin Board: At the end of your turn you spin the board in any direction you like to try and get the other players to forget what and where you just played. If other players missed your move or place you do not need to tell them what or where you played making concentration and memory important. The player to your left can stop the board wherever they like to start their turn so they choose which floor is facing them. This may be to get access to the dice and/or manipulate the cards facing them or just to throw other players off.


Table Talk: Table talk between other players is recommended and supported in Tongo as a means to form temporary alliances against other players or as a joint effort to reduce rates etc. However, a discussion with players outside of the game is not permitted and is known as “coaching”.

Cheating:  Cheating is not permitted and will result in disqualification.  Although it is not unlikely that a Ferengi game would have some cheating, it makes the game very difficult to manage.


Advanced Rules (Optional) 

Advanced players can opt to play without a Free Exchange in which case only half of the Options Decks cards are available for use at the start.  Another optional rule adds 2D6 with values 1-6 and 7-12 which can be used to form sets of four of a kind.

A player can also index the margin once per turn by increasing or decreasing the Buy, Sell and Exchange costs by a percentage in which case the Player must still pay an amount equal to the total amount each is being increased by.

 Round up rule:    In the case that indexing results in a fraction, the value is always rounded up.

29 Responses to 1) Tongo Rules

  1. Tinman1337 says:

    thanks soooo much for the rules, this is great! now if we had scans of the prop cards from the show we can make a real version of the game.

    • luminous1 says:

      I actually took a look at the images they used on the cards in the show and could not rationalize them in the rules in any way. If I could get a nice image of one that I could use for the card backs that would be awesome. In the show it seems that they have the same images on the front and back which would be like playing with an open hand but I have not tried playing that way yet. Values on the cards on the floor would still have to be hidden.

  2. David Gibson says:

    Good work! I have a couple of questions…

    With the dice, the Dealer rolls them at the beginning of the game, and places them on the Floor in front of him. Are they common to all players regardless of where they are on the table, or do they only apply to the Floor they reside in? If they are not common to all, can subsequent players move the dice as part of an Exchange action, or do they always remain on the Floor the Dealer put them in?

    Also, what is a common starting point for the Buy and Sell Rates? When you say they can be adjusted by percentage, do you mean that a player will raise them by 5% (so from 20% to 21%), or do they declare a point value like 5, and increase a 20 to a 25?

    • luminous1 says:

      The values on the dice can be applied to all players’ hands. All of the dice can only be rolled if one of them is on a section of the board/floor facing them.

      I always start with 5 to buy, sell, and exchange. You can modify this any way you want depending on how much you want to play for, how many chips you distribute and the weight of the table. I suggest keeping it low because the costs can soar pretty quickly. I have almost run out of chips at the end of a game and almost lost because of it.

  3. Brandon Lesche says:

    Any chance you can post pics of the Tongo game board? I’m curious as to how it’s designed because I’d like to build one myself.

    • luminous1 says:

      I would like to film a game in a progress and post the clip. I just got the tools and will now just need to set up a date to play through a game. Hopefully I will have it up soon.

      • Sam says:

        Did you ever get a video up?

        • luminous1 says:

          Not yet. I should have something by Christmas.

          • Ben says:

            I’m guessing you still haven’t got a video up? Any ETA on that? Would be really helpful in figuring out how to play.

          • luminous1 says:

            I haven’t been able to get the video to the quality I wanted yet and will keep trying to do so but due to popular demand I have included what I have that is half decent with only a few minor mistakes, in a new section of the site. I will replace and update the video clips as soon as I can.

          • Billy says:

            Did this ever happen? Would love to see it.

          • luminous1 says:

            This was just a personal project of mine but the game has been made and played just not mass produced or manufactured. I have now posted video you can review as sample of how it looks. I will likely be updating it soon.

          • Garrett says:

            Have you filmed a game yet? I’ve got a few friends who like to play with me and we would love to see a game in progress to see if we’ve gotten the right rhythm. Not asking for a full, turn-by-turn analysis but we’d really appreciate a few turns at least that we can analyze.

          • luminous1 says:

            The video is now up but there are updates needed and a few mistakes in the video. I will add more clips as soon as I can.

  4. Brandon Lesche says:

    Nevermind… I see you already have it on your site!

    • Jonathan Daigle says:

      I can’t find this video…was it taken down?

      • luminous1 says:

        I have had nothing but trouble trying to get some decent video together but have now posted a few clips to give everyone a taste for the early game. I will add more clips as soon as I can.

  5. Ryan says:

    This game is very interesting. For years I have have wanted to play this game. I was wondering if it will be awhile before you post a clip, could you post a hypothetical game? Like player #1 does whatever and so on. I am having problems getting a grip for the game. Also how does the board spin? Or is it just the thing in the middle that spins?

    Thank you.

  6. Kaiwhekea says:

    I am a little confused about spinning the board. If you spin the board after each action, then don’t you end up with a different floor facing you during your same turn? Should the wheel only be spun at the end of the turn? I think this is a great idea, but the rules are lacking clear information about how and when to spin.

    • luminous1 says:

      I can’t believe I forgot such an important point. Thanks. You spin at the end of your turn and the player who goes next can stop the board wherever the want and choose the floor that they want facing them. The board should make at least one full rotation.

  7. Backinblack says:

    In number 5 you mention after setting the rates the player can choose to acquire, confront, convert reserves, or evade (pay). Does that mean after setting the rates a player cannot evade using their chip and that the evade chip can only be used at the start of their turn?

    Also when a player discards a card does it go to the bottom of the player deck, get shuffled in, or go into a discard pile thus eliminating its use for the rest of the hand?

    Similar question also in regards to folded hands. You mention the cards go face down on the table, do they remain there out of play, are they added to the facing floor when the player folds and can therefore be bought , sold, and exchanged for the rest of the hand, or is that just symbolic and they just go back into the player deck (if so, bottom or shuffled?) or the discard pile if one exists?

    When you say countering a move of convert reserves, are you just pointing out that you can still skip your turn either by token or paying to evade after a player has made that move?

    And finally, you mention you like to start all the rates at 5 chips each. Does that mean that until someone changes either the buy or sell rate that players do not have to pay any risk?

    Oh sorry one more. You mention that one of the ways to avoid paying the risk is by converting reserves, but number 5 seems to say that you cannot make that action until you’ve decided whether or not to change the rates, which from what I understand isn’t possible until you’ve paid the risk. So can you actually just convert at the beginning of your turn to avoid paying the risk (also then ending your turn without being able to buy, sell, or exchange)?

    Sorry for the inquisition…just trying to make sure I completely understand this game before I endeavor to make myself a table.

    Thank you, your help will be greatly appreciated.

    • luminous1 says:

      The evade chip can only be used at the start of the turn. It is basically like passing your turn without having to pay a penalty but you can only do so once for free, plus the option of drawing new cards. Paying to evade is basically just drawing new cards.

      I watched my Tongo clips again and noticed they don’t always discard and draw so I made it optional.

      When discarding as part of the evade cost shuffle it back into the stack. You may draw the same card again.

      When folding, the cards are thrown down on the table symbolically but are just out of play. They don’t get shuffled into the draw pile.

      Yes. When converting reserves at the beginning of their turn the cost to play (risk) is increased without cost to the player who converted their reserves until their next turn. Also without being able to exchange cards across the board or change the rates, they will know what the buy and sell cost will be for their next turn. It could also force the rates high to see who really wants to stay in. Converting reserves is usually something done to set up a final move, done spitefully or out of desperation. Since it can only be done once the effects may be worth avoiding through an evade or retreat until the player who converted the reserves will have to deal with their increased rates. However, hoping players retreat or evade may just be what they are looking for to set up a confront call on their next turn.

      There is 0 risk to start when they are all set to 5 to start. The first player still has to pay the buy/sell/exchange cost but they are not obligated to change the rates to start. The game may not have risk for a few turns at the beginning while players are deciding whether they have a hand worth investing in. As the game progresses the real strategy comes out with keeping the buy cost low and sell price high. However the starting player can start by setting rates like saying risk = 5(x5), buy = 3(x5) and sell = 8(x5).

      You can convert reserves at the beginning of your turn so you don’t have to pay the risk. You can alternatively convert reserves after you have set the rates but to set the rates you have to pay the risk. Then you increase and/or decrease the rates equal to the previous player’s rate changes. You can still buy or sell but can’t exchange.

      Great questions. I will try to clarify things by adjusting the rules. This is exactly the stuff I need before bringing it to my local board gaming cafe.

  8. Stephen Ranger says:

    This is pretty awesome (and overwhelming the first read-through)! I would love to see a proper, professional go of something like this (kickstarter?). Though, you would probably want to run it by the Star Trek owners and/or get a board game company to help flesh out a final set of rules and beta-test it.

    Anyway, great job at making some sense of a game that always looked like bull- in the show.

    • luminous1 says:

      Thanks. Previously I just put this together for myself and fans but am now going to try and put together a more complete package that can be put on kickstarter. I need to research licensing costs as well. I am located out of Toronto Ontario Canada and will be game testing Tongo at Snakes and Lattes in April 2014. Once they disclose their next designer night date I will create an events tab and post it.

  9. Ben says:

    I’ve not gone though all of your rules, but I can see that you’ve gone to the trouble to conserve ‘rules’ introduced in DS9, and make a real game out of it. I found this after googling to see if someone had actually invented Tongo, and I’m really impressed that you’ve done it. I have a suggestion; why not turn it into an actual game, like a board game that people can buy? You would have the advantage of immediately having many loyal customers as soon as you introduce your product, because a demand for this game surely already exists. I’d buy one myself.

    • luminous1 says:

      Your encouragement is greatly appreciated. I did the same thing originally, looking to see if anybody had made rules for Tongo that made sense and coincided with the dialogue from the show. Since I couldn’t find any I had to make some. I was big into Star Trek Online at the time that kept the creative fires going. I am now going to start officially trying to get this game produced and will post updates of my progress as I move forward.

  10. WaMatt says:

    Great Site, can’t wait to get my broad going and play

    Why do you have the lowering of the rates in step 2 and the raising of the rates in step 4?

    “Can I lower the rate of the sell price, sell a card and then raise the price of the sell again after I have had my turn”

    Can’t wait to see a video of a game in action, will you be adding a link from this site to the video?

    • luminous1 says:

      Thanks. You can only sell, buy and exchange once per turn. The lowering of the rates and raising of the rates had to be listed in that order so you aren’t raising the rates first and then paying the inflated price right away but paying the rate according to what the previous player changed it to by the end of their turn and then you can change it more. I originally had them together before paying the rates but felt the need to change it during testing. You generally don’t want to be raising the rates on yourself.

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