An inductive logic game. By what rule do some groupings get a white stone, others a black stone?
Downloadable Rules: 
Kory Heath
Year Created: 
Available In: 
Stuff You Need To Play: 
3 or 4 different colored Stashes
~20 each tokens in three different colors, usually black, white, & some other color
Ideally, rule cards for the moderator (see below)


Zendo - Sample Game

Zendo - Bonus Sample Game

Publication History

  • Rules for Zendo first appeared in issue #14 of Hypothermia, July 2001.
  • Zendo is one of 12 games featured in Playing with Pyramids, published in 2002.
  • A standalone edition of Zendo was publshed in 2003, featuring Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue pieces, with 16 simple "starter" rule cards.
  • This is one of 12 games for which special cards were created during the Pyramid Arcade Kickstarter campaign.
  • An updated standalone edition of Zendo was published in 2017 using pyramids, blocks, and wedges.

Zendo Rule Cards

For the game to work, the moderator must have ideas for secret rules. Originally, it was part of the moderator's task to think up and remember a good secret rule. However, this can be quite a challenge in and of itself, and many a game has gone badly because the moderator chose a rule that was much more difficult to unravel than they thought it would be.

This problem was solved with the 2017 re-development of the game, which included a deck of 40 rule cards for the moderator to use. Each of these cards has a rule concept with various permuations, so that the 40 cards can be used to generate more than 200 distinct rules. A pair of clips is used to mark off the choices so that the moderator can't forget the details of the rule.

Those cards are only available in the updated Zendo set, and anyway they are keyed to the different types of pieces used by that set.

In 2020, as part of the Pyramid Quartet Kickstarter, those rules – plus the 20 additional ones created for Zendo Rules Expansions 1 & 2 – were revised to work with the pyramids. These cards are now available for sale.

Each Zendo rule card has a rating (Easy, Medium, or Difficult) and an index number in the lower right hand corner. These numbers are meant to allow Zendo fans to easily refer to a specific card without giving anything away about its subject matter. The cards in the pyramid-style deck use the same numbers, but are also coded as follows: those marked with a + are the same concept but with superficial changes, like pyramid-size to piece-shape, and those marked with a ++ are rules that required more significant rewrites.

Zen Theme

  • The original version of Zendo featured a Zen Buddhism theme. This element was phased out when the game was re-released in 2017, however, some long-time fans will likely continue to use the "Buddha-nature" terminology.
  • The old-style rules to Zendo are still available, on this page and in this PDF.

Other Notes