Shih Tao’s Manual

Main Window

New Game

You can start a new game at any time. Shih Tao gives you the choice of three different board sizes. These can be combined with the three game modes Easy, Standard and Export. This gives you a variation of nine different possibilities to play a game of Shih Tao. You can choose to get all stones in the same order as in the previous game using Same Game. The paragraphs Boards and Shih Tao Rules describe the differences between the different modes in detail.

Save and Open Games

At any point of the game you can save it using menu File – Save… or Ctrl+S. The saved game has the extension .sav. You can exchange save games with your family and friends. If you are proud on your result let them try harder on the same game. To open a saved game use menu File – Open… or Ctrl+O.


The Shih Tao board comes in three different sizes: M (12×8), L (24×16) and XL (48×32). We suggest that you begin with size M. The outer row is darker than the inner rows. You don’t score by placing stones in the outer row. In the beginning of a game six stones are placed on the board. Each stone has a different color/symbol combination.


In the beginning of a game, six stones are set on the board automatically. The remaining stones are hidden in the pouch. Depending on the board size a different number is initially in the pouch:

  • Board Size M: initial stones in pouch = 66
  • Board Size L: initial stones in pouch = 282
  • Board Size XL: initial stones in pouch = 642

The more stones are in the game the harder to find the optimum place for a stone. The active stone is already drawn out of the pouch and visible in the upper left corner next to the board.


All actual scoring information are displayed above the board:

  • Points – actual total score
  • Pouch – number of stones in the pouch including the active stone
  • Shih Taos – number of finished four-combinations
  • One – number of possible one-combinations for active stone
  • Two – number of possible two-combinations for active stone
  • Three – number of possible three-combinations for active stone
  • Four – number of possible four-combinations for active stone

View Grading of Scores for further information.


Easy Mode

This is the suggested mode for beginners. You can freely place the stones on the board. There is only one exception: If you want to place the active stone next to another stone (horizontally or vertically), both stones have to share the same color or the same symbol. If an active stone would have more than one neighbor, this rule has to be fulfilled for all neighbors.

Standard Mode

All remarks for the Easy Mode are true, too. Additionally there comes another exception for placing the active stone next to multiple neighbors. If you want to place the stone next to two neighbors, the active stone has to share with one neighbor the symbol and with the other the color. It is possible that the active stone shares more than one characteristic with one neighboring stone, but he has to share also one characteristic with the other neighbor. For three neighbors the rule is that the active stone has to share one characteristic (symbol or color) with one neighbor and the other characteristic (color or symbol) with the two other neighbors. You can imagine that this is already a bit harder.

For the four combination which gives the game the name Shih Tao, we need two times an accordance in color and two times in color. Like with the easier combinations there has to be one matching characteristic with each neighbor. In this mode already more than a dozen Shih Taos are possible for the medium board size.

Don’t know in or out? Go to the Helpers section to get some hints.

Expert Mode

All remarks for the Standard Mode are true, too. Additionally there is one exception. Our active stone needs always a neighbor. You cannot place it freely. This makes it much harder to place Shih Taos. From the beginning you have to play strategically and keep in mind which stones are still in the pouch and which are already on the board. If you are not a hardcore strategist this is definitely the time to take a look at the available helpers. If you want to take the challenge: There are 12 Shih Taos possible in board size M. Email us a save game with 12 Shih Taos with board M for a free license of Shih Tao. It is possible, we gave already a few licenses for free.

Grading of Score

The grading of score is dynamic. There are base points you get at the beginning of a game:

  • One I: 1 point
  • Two II: 2 point
  • Three III: 4 point
  • Four IV: 8 point

But every Shih Tao (IV) doubles the base points for all following moves. This makes it attractive to go for a better number of Shih Taos or f early. Additionally you get bonus points for every Shih

Shih Tao # Bonus Shih Tao # Bonus
1 25 7 800
2 50 8 1,000
3 100 9 5,000
4 200 10 10,000
5 400 11 25,000
6 600 12 50,000

These bonus points helps the genius under us to score high in the high score list. Another source for bonus points is emptying the pouch. The bonus points are different for the varied board sizes:

Board M Board L Board XL
Pouch Bonus Bonus Bonus
2 500 5.000 50,000
1 1,200 12,000 120,000
0 3,000 30,000 300,000

You can view the grading at any point of the game using Ctrl+G or menu Help – Grading of Score….


Stone Cursor

The active stone follows your mouse cursor for an easy comparison with the potential neighbors. Use menu Extras – Options… – dialog Options – tab Cursor/AutoPlay – Cursor Settings – Stone Cursor – Apply/OK to select this helper.

Variable Cursor

The mouse cursor symbol changes from an arrow to forbidden sign when you are over a position where you cannot place the active stone. Menu Extras – Options… – dialog Options – tab Cursor/AutoPlay – Cursor Settings – Variable Cursor – Apply/OK will do the job.

Show Possible Moves

This option will show you all possible positions for your active stone. Beyond that the combination for the available positions is shown. A dash represents a zero scoring position, a roman one I is a possible one-combination, a roman two II shows a possible two-combination, a roman three III is a possible three-combination and a roman four IV shows the king of moves a Shih Tao. Keep in mind: the more neighbors or combinations the harder to find matching stones.
Use menu Extras – Show Possible Moves or Ctrl+M to activate this helper.

Show Next Stones

This option is for the curious and strategic players. Select Extras – Show Next Stones or Ctrl+H to view a complete column of the pouch. This column of stones will be displayed directly under the active stone.

Show Pouch

To reveal the secret of the pouch and open a window showing the complete pouch content use menu Extras – Show Pouch… or Ctrl+R.


Sometimes you will find out later in the game that a specific move was not so wise, i.e. example because another stone comes earlier than expected and makes a possible Shih Tao impossible. Don’t worry, at any point you can undo the whole game step by step using Ctrl+Z or menu Edit – Undo. Or if you already know until which stone you want to undo, Ctrl+Click this stone.

Even better: this also works for redos. Ctrl+Click the stone until where you want to redo all your moves. If you click on a position where no stone was set Shih Tao will try to redo all your moves. Please be aware that redoing can fail because you placed stone differently before starting the redo. The shortcut for single Redos is Ctrl+Y. Alternatively use menu Edit – Redo.

Shuffle Pouch

If you really don’t like the current active stone you can try to change the order of the remaining stones in the pouch using menu Edit – Shuffle Pouch…. To make it not too easy shuffling costs you 1000 points and you need to have them already to use these option. Please keep in mind that with shuffling the old order of the remaining stones will get irreversible lost.
But last but not least there is no guarantee that the order is changed with shuffling. We shuffle randomly and so it is not impossible that the order stays the same, especially with only a few stones left.

More Features


If you are tired of playing you can let Shih Tao’s AutoPlay feature do the job. Configure it using menu Extras – Options – dialog Options – tab Cursor/AutoPlay. In the frame AutoPlay you can define the speed or in other words the time in seconds between placing two stones. Move the slider to the desired position.

When you want to watch more than a single game check the option Play Endless. If you want to give the Auto-Player a chance to enter the high score list check option Save in High Score. Select if the Auto-player should go for the same game or new game by selecting the corresponding option.

Select Apply for an immediate change or OK to save the settings and close the dialog. You can activate the Auto-Player at any given time using Ctrl+P or menu AutoPlay – Active. Click this option again to deactivate it. Use Ctrl+I or menu AutoPlay – Single Step for a single move of the Auto-Player.


The design of the board and the stones is configurable. Use menu Extras – Options… – dialog Options – tab Pattern/Colors to choose your favorites.
In the select box Pattern you can select one of different symbol sets shown on the stones. Select from Emboss the way how these symbols are embossed on the stone surface. Choose None to paint the pattern on the tone, Stamped to emboss them into the stone surface and Surface to emboss them on top of the stone. You can use the Apply button to get a better impression.

The select box Pattern/Colors gives different options to show the colors coded. That may be very helpful for users who can hardly distinguish colors. Play with the options using the Apply button after each change.

Color Sets provides different color sets for the Shih Tao board.

High Score

Shih Tao stores a different hall of fame for every mode / board size combination to make it fair. You can see the actual high score lists using menu File – High Score…. It shows up with the high score for your actual mode and board size combination. View other high scores by selecting other combinations. The button Select active highscore list shows the list you are actually fighting for.

  • Player Name
    Guess what? Default from the Enter License Key dialog, can be changed when entering the high score.
  • Score
    The total score for the game.
  • Pouch
    The number of remaining stones in the pouch.
  • #
    The number of placed Shih Taos.
  • Time
    The date and time when the entry was saved in the high score.

Good luck!

Melody and Sound

Every action in Shih Tao can be configured to play a specific sound. Use menu
Extras – Options… – dialog Options – tab Sound to configure it. Mark Sound Active to activate this feature. In the Event list double click an entry or select one and push button Select to open a file dialog where you can select the desired sound file. Shih Tao supports Wave files (*.wav) for sound events. In the same event list you can configure up to 30 background melodies. The corresponding entries are named Melody 1 to Melody 30. Shih Tao supports midi files (*.mid) as background melodies. Shih Tao installs 30+ midi files for your selection.

If you want to deactivate a sound event or background melody just select the entry and push the Remove button. If you don’t like a melody during playing use Ctrl+B to skip it and forward to the next one. Alternatively use menu Extras – Next Background Melody.

We hope you enjoy playing Shih Tao…


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