hist-games: What's the one game (or maybe two or three) you would include?

Jane & Mark Waks waks at comcast.net
Sun Jun 7 08:10:06 PDT 2009

So there's this new edition of the Known World Handbook coming out. I 
pointed out to the editors that it *needs* to have a good hands-on 
introductory article on games, describing a few games suitable for new 
folks to play at events. I've found that the greatest danger for novices 
is not knowing what to *do* when they get to an event, so I'm hoping 
that the KWH can provide at least a few suggestions. Games are, IMO, a 
really fine option.

Unsurprisingly, saying this has led to me being responsible for the 
article, and it needs to get written in the next few weeks. So I'm 
mulling it over now, thinking about what to write, and I'm seeking opinions.

(I should caveat that I don't think the article is certain for 
inclusion: I get the impression that the editors are going to cull down 
from the submissions that they get. So it needs to be good enough to get 

The goal here is to describe a few good games for novices. They should 
be moderately easy to play and to describe: I've only got a total of 
2-3000 words here, so I have to be careful of complexity. And frankly, I 
don't want the games to be too intimidating. (So Chess is borderline, 
and Rhythmomachy is right out.) But at the same time, I'm inclined 
against the idiotically simple games like Dublets, that aren't as 
interesting without strong drink.

Also, I think we should limit ourselves to games that can be played with 
easy-to-obtain equipment, or at least easily made. Chess, Tables and 
games with standard cards are options there; not sure about Tarocchi. 
(Since most easily-available Tarot decks kinda suck for it.) Merels is 
probably okay, since the board is easy to draw, but probably not Goose.

So the question I put to y'all, as I ponder this, is: what would you 
include? Choose one to three games that you think suit these 
requirements, that you think would be good for this article. I've got a 
few options in mind already, but I haven't made up my mind, so I'm 
interested in what everybody else has to say.

I'm specifically wrestling with the question of novelty: how much should 
we take into account whether a game is known today? Chess and standard 
Tables are the big questions here. On the one hand, they were very 
common in period; OTOH, it seems wasteful to spend too much time 
describing games that are so close to games that many people already 
know. So I'm tempted to describe both of them somewhat briefly, focusing 
on just the differences from the modern games, as a compromise position 
that lets me spend more space on new-and-different. Opinions are solicited.

Also, if there are folks who'd like to help out with this, I'd love at 
least some collaborators/editors/kibitzers. I hadn't really intended to 
be writing this myself, frankly, so I'd be happy not to do it all 
myself. While it can't turn into a total free-for-all (articles written 
by committee tend to suck), we could post drafts here for commentary if 
folks think it would be worthwhile...

				-- Justin

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