hist-games: Historical Games -- FAQ, Part I (Monthly Posting)

David Salley salley at niktow.canisius.edu
Mon Dec 1 18:03:58 PST 1997

	Welcome to the Medieval and Renaissance Games FAQ file! - Part I
	Send corrections/updates/suggestions for this file to: 
	salley at niktow.canisius.edu OR http://www-cs.canisius.edu/~salley

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2.) Can I get "back issues" of the mailing list?
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3.) What does this mailing list cover?
	Medieval and Renaissance games.  Although the actual content of the 
	list will be determined by what people post, we concentrate on 
	historical games prior to 1650.  

4.) Where can I find information on games played AFTER 1650?
	There are several games which have their own newsgroups.  If you 
	have a question or want to discuss these games, you have a better
	chance of getting your question answered there.

	Game			: 	Newsgroup
	Abstract games		:	rec.games.abstract
	Backgammon              :       rec.games.backgammon
	Board games		:	rec.games.board
	Bridge			:	rec.games.bridge
	Chess                   :       rec.games.chess....
	Chinese Chess		:	rec.games.chinese-chess
	Cosmic Encounter	:       rec.games.board.ce 
	Designing your own game : 	rec.games.design 
	Dice games		:	alt.games.dice
	Diplomacy               : 	rec.games.diplomacy
	Gambling games		: 	rec.gambling.other-games
	Games for sale		:	rec.games.board.marketplace
	Go                      :       rec.games.go
	Live Action Role Play 	:	rec.games.frp.live-action
	Magic: The Gathering	:	rec.games.trading-card....
	Miniatures		:	rec.games.miniatures.misc
	Miniatures, Historical	:	rec.games.miniatures.historical
	Miniatures, Warhammer 	:	rec.games.miniatures.warhammer
	Miscellaneous games	:	alt.games
	Play-By-Mail games      :       rec.games.pbm 
	Playing cards		:	rec.games.playing-cards
	Fantasy Role Playing 	:       rec.games.frp....  
	Tiddlywinks		:	alt.games.tiddlywinks
	Trivia games            :	rec.games.trivia

5.) What are all those strange terms all the regular posters keep using?
	SCA : Society for Creative Anachronism, a non-profit, educational,
		historical re-creation organization for hobbyists.
	period : within the time period discussed, prior to 1650.
	OOP : Out-Of-Period, post 1650.
	primary documentation : something published/produced concurrent with
		the time period being studied, eg. a game board, a painting.
	secondary documentation : generally, a 20th century scholastic work
		on the subject, the good ones will cite their references.

6.) Where can I find information/rules about period games? 
	Check out the "Medieval & Renaissance Games Home Page" web site at
	"http://www.inmet.com/~justin/game-hist.html".  Like this list, it 
	was started within the SCA, but we hope that it serves a broader 
	audience.  Contact Justin du Coeur (justin at inmet.com) for more 
	details about the web site.

	Also check out "Dagonell's Game of the Month" column on his web site
	at "http://www-cs.canisius.edu/~salley/articles.html#games".  The
	most up to date copy of this FAQ may also be found there.

			A Partial Bibliography on Period Games 
	(Book reviews by Dagonell the Juggler unless otherwise noted.)

        _Medieval Games_ by Salaamallah the Corpulent (Jeff DeLuca), 
	Raymond's Quiet Press ISBN 0-943228-03-4,$10.00.  The SCA considers
	him to be expert on historical board games. Ordering information is 
	available: "http://www.inmet.com/~justin/justin_bib.html#salaamallah".
	I've also managed to track down about 3/4 of the books he lists in 
	the Bibliography.  Among them, I'd recommend the following two:

        _Traditional Games of England, Scotland and Ireland_ by Alice Gomme,
	pub. London 1894. in 2 vol.  Thames and London, ISBN 0-500-27316-2, 
	$18.95  Normally, I avoid Victorian books as the scholarship usually 
	tends to be nearly non-existant.  These books however, are very well 

        _Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations_ by Richard C. Bell,
	Dover Pub., ISBN 0-486-23855-5, $6.50.  My edition is "revised 
	edition - two volumes bound as one" which makes it a bit confusing as 
	the sequence goes; table of contents, text, bibliography, index, 
	table of contents, text, bibliography, index.

        _Games of the World: How to Make Them, How to Play Them, How They
	Came to Be_  edited by Frederic V. Grunfeld, Holt Rinehart & Winston 
	Pub, ISBN 0-03-015261-5.  My copy doesn't have the price listed on it.
	Richard Bell (see listing above) is listed as one of the consultants 
	for the book.  The book is documented to the nth degree with 
	photographs of museum pieces and medieval manuscripts.  Instructions 
	on building boards and playing pieces are well written, well diagrammed
	and often photographed in intermediate stages of construction.  Games 
	are categorized into: Board & Table Games, Street & Playground Games, 
	Field & Forest Games, Party & Festival Games, and Puzzles, Tricks & 
	Stunts.  Additionally the table of contents has cross-indexed each
	game for: Indoor or Outdoor; Solo, Pair or Group; Mental, Physical or 
	Chance; Playing Time - Short, Medium, Long and Prepartion Time - Short,
	Medium, Long.

	_Pleasures and Pastimes of Medieval England_ by Compton Reeves 
	(England; Alan Sutton Pub.; 1995; ISBN 0-7509-0089-X; 228 pgs)  
	Admittedly hard to get, but well worth the effort.  It doesn't cover 
	rules for specific games, but the documentation is excellent.  Very 
	well illustrated with photos of artifacts and reproductions of 
	historical manuscripts.  The paperback is due out in December 1997.

	Society for Creative Anachronism, Compleat Anachronist pamphlet series
    	(P.O. Box 360789, Milpitas CA 95036-0789, $4 each)
    	Compleat Anachronist #04 "Indoor Games or How to While Away a Siege"
    	Compleat Anachronist #71 "Period Pastimes"
    	Compleat Anachronist #78 "Non-European Games"

        _The Boardgame Book_ by Richard C. Bell. Nothing spectacular, but
	rules for most of common board games all conveniently in one volume.

        _Games Ancient and Oriental and How to Play Them_ by Edward Falkener
	(New York, 1961.  Reprint of the original, by Longmans, Green & Co.,
	 1892)  One of the earliest books on the history of games, this has
	the usual strengths and weaknesses of Victorian scholarship (no
	footnotes, erratic citations).  It's a reasonably good account, 
	although much has been superceded by more recent work.  The book has
	five major sections:
		* Games of the Ancient Egyptians (Tau, Senat, etc.);
		* Chess, along with regional and historical variants; 
		* Draughts and variants 
			(including Go, which I find inexplicable);
		* Backgammon and other race games;
		* and Magic Squares and similar intellectual puzzles.
	Overall an interesting book (especially the Magic Squares chapter,
	which isn't often covered under this subject), but far from 
	essential at this point.	-- Justin du Coeur

	_A History of Chess_ by H.J.R. Murray (Oxford University Press, 1913.
	Currently in print from Benjamin Press, Northampton, MA)  Many books
	with this title have been written down the years, but this is the one
	that really counts; while the scholarship has advanced a little since
	Murray's day, it's still the case that everyone starts here and then
	moves forward.  If you have only one book on period chess, this is the
	one to have.  It's an enormous tome (900 pages), and the vast majority
	of it is devoted to the pre-1600 history of the game.  Once the game 
	stablizes in the early modern period, Murray seems to mostly lose
	interest.  Murray goes into minute detail about every aspect of the
	game, discussing not only the rules, but also issues like the 
	literature written in period using chess as a metaphor, three chapters
	on period chess problems, and of course, descriptions of every known
	early variant of chess (of which there were many).  The scholarship is
	impeccable; not only does the book discuss pretty much every known
	source in detail, it includes great swathes of medieval texts on the
	subject, in Latin, Spanish, English and other languages.  This is
	NOT a book for the casual reader; it is enormous and dense.  But for
	anyone seriously interested in the subject of period chess, it is the
	most vital book on the subject.  And now it is back in print.  Get it.
						-- Justin du Coeur

        _A History of Board Games Other Than Chess_ by H.J.R. Murray
	(Oxford University Press, London 1952) This is Murray's much later,
	more obscure, and far harder to find follow-up to _A History of Chess_.
	While not as impressive a work as its predecessor, this is 
	nonetheless one of the seminal works in the field.  This book sets
	down the format followed by many of the more recent writers, such as
	RC Bell and Jeff DeLuca, encyclopedically categorizing board games and
	then listing pretty much all known instances of each type.  It does
	not confine itself to period games, but tends to be heavy on them;
	Murray appears to have had little interest in modern board games.   It
	is useful to have, not least because pretty much everyone who comes
	after cites this particular book.  Although usually fairly clear, the
	book is very concise in most cases; I definitely don't recommend it 
	for beginners.  In general, it is less clear than Bell, and has a
	smaller scope that DeLuca (in that it only covers board games); 
	however its coverage of board games is unbeatable, including many 
	games and variants I haven't heard of elsewhere.  This book is
	extremely difficult to obtain; I had to order a copy from a London
	used-book dealer, and it appears that the going price ranges from
	$120 to $170 US.  It's worth it for the hard-core game history
	scholar, probably not for the dillentante.	-- Justin du Coeur

7.) Where can I find information/rules about period cards and card games? 
	"The Official Card Games Webpage" is at "http://www.pagat.com".

		A Partial Bibliography on Period Playing Cards
	(Book reviews by Dagonell the Juggler unless otherwise noted.)

	_A History of Card Games_ by David Parlett (1990; Oxford Univ. Press;
	ISBN: 0-19-282905-X; $10.50)  Well documented.  No bibliography, but
	all footnotes are cited. 

        _The History of Playing Cards: with Anecdotes of Their Use in
	Conjuring, Fortune-Telling and Card-Sharping_ edited by Ed S. Taylor 
	et al.  Originally pub. London 1865, my edition is pub. by Charles 
	Tuttle Co 1973, ISBN 0-8048-1026-5.  No price listed on my copy.  
	It doesn't have a bibliography :-(, but all of the direct quotes are 
	adequately footnoted.  The illustrations are all modern drawings of 
	medieval cards :-(  I would have preferred photographs, warts and all.

	_Playing Cards_ by Roger Tilley (1973; Octopus Books Ltd.; $6.00;
	ISBN: 0-7064-0049-6)  Color photographs of cards from the British
	Museum.  One deck has as suits: Lions, Peacocks, Monkeys & Parrots.
	The photos alone are worth the price of the book.

	_Playing Cards, The History and Secrets of the Pack_ by W. Gurney
	Benham.  Regretfully long out of print, this volume covers not only
	the history of standard playing cards, but also devotes chapters to
	the history of the Tarot, and the Right Worshipful Guild of Playing
	Card Makers.

8.) Are there period games played with Tarot cards? 
	Yes; the Tarot was originally used for a large family of trick-taking
	games, from the later Renaissance up to the modern day.

9.) Where can I find information/rules about dice games?
	_Scarne on Dice_ by John Scarne.  John Scarne was the world's 
	foremost authority on cards and dice.  This book is so well
	written, Encyclopedia Britannica uses citations and illustrations
	from this book for their articles.

10.) So where's Part II?
	Part II of the FAQ list will essentially consist of a long list of 
	"Is the game [...] period?" followed by citations.  It will be
	finished in Dagonell's _copious_ spare time. :) 

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