HEMA Game Archive


How the game is played/scored. This should be information about WHAT to do, but please save WHY for the "Design" field.

Additional rules could be added because:
- You've decided that the game is better in every way with the new rule.
- You found a *slight* tweak that makes a small difference in a meaningful way. (If it's a big enough change just make a new game and tag it as a variant of this one.)


Why the rules are designed the way they are. What are the core skills targeted, and possible weaknesses.
Descriptions of the design iterations, failed attempts, or changes in thoughts are also helpful to other coaches.


Notes on what coaches have noticed playing this game with their students.


Video or article links

Head-Leg-Parry, Ratchet

Uploaded by Sean Franklin on 2023-06-17
Tags:   adaptability | decision_to_commit | meta_game |


Both fighters start in vom tag, and there are no roles. They both must approach each other and are not allowed to stop moving forward until they commit to an action. (More at the bottom)

To engage they can chose the following options:

  • Direct attack to the head
  • Direct attack to the leg
  • Step forward with a parry
  • Don’t engage with sword.

 You can win by:

  • Having someone swing into your parry. (If they don’t attack into it and wait, you lose)
  • Hitting someone in the head/shoulders without being hit in the head/shoulders.
  • Hitting someone in the leg without being hit.
  • Having someone miss (you are not allowed to back up on the defense, however you can avoid to the side and/or void the leg)

Design (added 2023-06-17 by Sean Franklin)

As is probably obvious, this is based on a Rock-Paper-Scissors premise.

  1. If they are attacking directly, then parry; even pre-emptively to bait a swing into it.
  2. If they are parrying you, attack their legs. (Or just bait them to parry pre-emptively)
  3. If they are attacking your legs, attack directly.

The idea is that it forces fencers to start thinking about alternating tactics, and using meta-gaming strategy. If someone is always using the same options without variety, they will get destroyed by someone who can roll between them all as necessary.

The other way to do this is the Head-Leg-Parry, DirectAttack version. The Direct Attack version focuses more on getting people used to the concept strategic switches, whereas the Ratchet version is more representative of how to use switches in approach during sparring.

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HEMA Game Archive
Developed by Sean Franklin
GD4H project