MTG Wiki
Portal Three Kingdoms
Portal Three Kingdoms
Portal Three Kingdoms logo.png
Set Information
Set symbol
Symbol description Chinese character for 3
Design Henry Stern (lead)
Development Henry Stern (lead)
Art direction Li Tie
Release date May 1999
Plane Earth, China (later changed to a parallel plane)[1][2]
Keywords/​ability words Horsemanship
Set size 180 cards
(55 commons, 55 uncommons, 55 rares, 15 basic lands)
Expansion code PTK[3]
Portal trilogy
Portal Portal Second Age Portal Three Kingdoms
Magic: The Gathering Chronology
Sixth Edition Portal Three Kingdoms Urza's Destiny

Portal Three Kingdoms is a starter-level set released in May 1999 for mostly Asian markets. It is a flavor-based set based on the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history.[4] Three Kingdoms is the third and final Portal set, and as with the previous two, its cards were not tournament-legal at the time of printing but were later made legal in Eternal formats.

Set details[]

Portal Three Kingdoms booster

Portal Three Kingdoms was specifically designed for the Asian market and was not sold in North America. It was mainly printed in Japanese, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese, but there was also an English printing, sold mostly in Australia and New Zealand. As a result, the English versions of the cards are amongst the rarest in the game. As with the previous two Portal sets, the cards in Portal Three Kingdoms were not tournament-legal at the time of printing, but were made legal in Vintage and Legacy on 20 October 2005.[5] The expansion symbol for this set is the Chinese character for 3. Unlike its predecessors, the P3K-set is white-bordered. Henry Stern was the sole designer.[6]

Flavor and storyline[]

Portal Three Kingdoms was a flavor-based set that used the cards to retell the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. This tale is as important to Asia as the Homeric and Arthurian tales are to the west. This meant that it was the first expansion since Arabian Nights to be designed around an earth-based history, and the first set since Legends to reference real-world people, places, and events in its card names. The artwork for the set was produced entirely by Chinese artists in order to give it an authentic feel. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations on Portal Three Kingdoms cards are from Guanzhong Luo, Three Kingdoms: A Historical Novel (Beijing Foreign Language Press/Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), Moss Roberts, trans.

The setting of Portal Three Kingdoms closely resembles historic Earth, but is retroactively considered to be a parallel plane.[2][7]

Themes and mechanics[]

The set featured its own keyword ability, Horsemanship.[5] This was functionally identical to Flying but was distributed differently across the Color Pie, appearing on a number of red cards. It also featured Legendary creatures, a rule that had not been included in the previous Portal sets. As Horsemanship replaced flying in the set, Borrowing the East Wind and Rolling Earthquake were included to mimic Hurricane and Earthquake, respectively.


The cards were sold in 10-card booster packs (containing 1 rare, 2 uncommon, 5 common, and 2 basic lands), three different 40 card theme decks, and a 2-Player Starter Set. The boosters feature art from Riding Red Hare. The prerelease card was a nonfoil Lu Bu, Master-at-Arms. The set continued to use the simplified Portal rules. Like the previous sets, it had sword and shield symbols next to the power and toughness of creature cards to denote which number was which and used bold type for rules text and a thick line to separate it from flavor text. It also had no instants, artifacts or enchantments. However, Portal Three Kingdoms did have sorceries that could only be played during the combat phase, such as Heavy Fog and ones that could only be played in response to another spell, such as Preemptive Strike. All such cards have since received errata to make them actual instants.[8]


Notable cards[]

  • Imperial Recruiter was used in some decks, as an effective way to tutor for creatures that are part of a combo (for example Painter's Servant).
  • Imperial Seal is a sorcery version of Vampiric Tutor. Imperial Seal effectively allows a player in that format to run extra copies of Vampiric Tutor. As a result, Imperial Seal has been restricted in Vintage and banned in Legacy and is one of the most valuable cards in the set.
  • Riding the Dilu Horse is the only black-bordered Magic card that boosts another card's power/toughness indefinitely without the use of counters or the Perpetually mechanic. It is unique and also quite powerful as it also grants Horsemanship, which is unblockable in many formats played nowadays.
  • Loyal Retainers is one of the cheapest white reanimation spells. It is used to cheat cards like Iona, Shield of Emeria into play.


The following cards were printed in other sets before being printed in Portal Three Kingdoms:

Functional reprints[]

The set included a large number of cards that were functional reprints of previously printed cards, as well as several which became sorceries but were otherwise the same.


  • In the set's FAQ, it states that Riding the Dilu Horse was misprinted without the "until end of turn" clause and should be treated as though it had it, but when the set was given errata prior to being made tournament-legal, the card was instead given reminder text stating that the effect is permanent.
  • Trained Cheetah lists collector number #155, should be #154.
  • Trip Wire lists collector number #154, should be #156.
  • Swamp (Japanese version) lists collector number #166, should be #174.

Theme decks[]

Portal Three Kingdoms is based on the famous Chinese epic of the Three Kingdoms, thus there are three theme decks. The preconstructed theme decks are:

deck name
Colors Included
{W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Shu Kingdom W
Wei Kingdom B
Wu Kingdom U

Creature types[]

The following creature types are introduced in this expansion: Farmer (later changed to Human), Horse, Mystic, Pig (later changed to Boar), Rabbit, Rooster (later changed to Bird).

The following creature types are used in this expansion but also appear in previous sets: Advisor, Bear, Cheetah (later changed to Cat), Dog (later changed to Hound), Dragon, Elephant, Goat, Jackal (later changed to Hound), Monkey (later changed to Ape), Ox, Rat, Ship (later changed to Soldier), Snake, Soldier, Tiger (later changed to Cat), Wolf.


  • At its release, Portal Three Kingdoms had the single longest set name in the game. It held this record until 2004, when it was met by Champions of Kamigawa and then again by Betrayers of Kamigawa in 2005. All three were then beaten by Ravnica: City of Guilds in 2005 as all four sets are equal in the number of letters in their names (19), but Ravnica is slightly longer due to its colon and third space. Note that although Portal Three Kingdoms is often incorrectly spelled Portal: Three Kingdoms, it would mean that Ravnica is still the longest by a single space.


External links[]