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

David Parish-Whittaker davidparishwhittaker at hotmail.com
Sun Jun 7 14:44:37 PDT 2009

Rather than repeat the rules and strategies for games that existed in the period and today, why not just mention the differences?  For example, you definitely should mention tables, but comment that the doubling rule didn't exist yet.  Similarly, for chess, you could talk about some of the earlier period variants, as well as mentioning that by the 16th, it used pretty much the same rules as today.

A few simple dice games (like those in Alphonso X's collection) would be great--  personal experience has been that those are more popular than cards.  But definitely put in a card game or two.  I vote for tarocchi:  the rules are easy enough, the decks are pretty (and fairly ubiquitous), and it was popular pretty much everywhere aside from England.  Toss in thirty and one and call it a day.

Finally, definitely mention physical games, but again, stick to the ones with easy to describe rules.  Bowls is a good evening game, and everyone loves football with a nice leather ball.

> Date: Sun, 7 Jun 2009 11:10:06 -0400
> From: waks at comcast.net
> To: hist-games at www.pbm.com
> Subject: hist-games: What's the one game (or maybe two or three) you would	include?
> 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 
> included.)
> 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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