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

Knight Takes Tower

Uploaded by Jack Berggren-Elers on 2023-12-19
Tags:   ringen_am_schwert | zwerhau | grapple |


Fencers have the role of Knight and Tower.

Both fencers begin in a close and high position, with forearms and/or elbows touching. The Tower is given a backline behind them.

Both fencers can score on giving a touch. In this case, the highest one gets priority. The Knight must always have both hands on their sword, but can also score on shoving the Tower behind the backline. In turn, the Tower is allowed to use their hand to grab the Knight on the arms or hilt, and can score on solid control of the blade. Solid in this case refers to that the grab should be such that the Knight cannot easily escape, and that delivering a hit for the Tower should be trivial. The Tower can attempt to do a quick "grab-and-strike" action, but this scored as a normal touch, with the target priority ruling.

In case of the Tower being shoved out their line as they land a touch, priority goes to the shove (but you can fiddle with this ruling). 

In the case of fencers separating distance (from e.g. the Knight attempting a hit and retreat, or shoving but the defender sidestepping and letting them run out of the backline), reset the fencers to their original position with no score. Note here that the game takes place on a fairly linear scale. E.g., the Tower should not be trying to run away to the sides and ignore their backline.

Design (added 2023-12-19 by Jack Berggren-Elers)

This game puts fencers in close and high positions and have them explore various solving both a symmetrical problem and an asymmetrical one. Hitting is done under the same conditions, but they win on different grappling conclusions. The intention is to give a constant expansion on feedback as the Knight might push the Tower on the backline, the Tower taking this input to feed new actions to vye for control with, and in turn the Knight finding new positions from there, and so on. The ability to land a touch remains to keep "regular" action inside the scope and as an alternative for close play, especially if the fencers are a bit less confident in grappling, with the target priority being there to prevent certain dominant strategies (like dropping the entire high grappling position to hit someone in the leg).

Note (added 2023-12-19 by Jack Berggren-Elers)

The edge cases can be ruled on differently, which can have some effects on the outcomes of the game. Right now the "reset on breaking distance rule" is simply based on that the game revolves around close play. In the case of the Tower letting the Knight run past, theres also the chance for them to see if they can land a valid touch to bring home the point.

However, if the Knight is only ever playing with trying to run away, or running past, then scoring a break of distance for the Tower (along with making sure they're not allowed to step to the side as much as they aren't allowed to step back) might help. I've personally never had the issue, so I've not yet done this.

Further, if a Tower is less confident or less skilled in grapple play, two ways to help them is to a) increase the distance to the backline (and this can decreased too, in case it needs to be more difficult), to make the shoving harder, and to also give them a chance to strike on the way out. The latter rule is also useful in a variant where you want the shover to be less reckless in their shoving.

Note (added 2023-12-19 by Jack Berggren-Elers)

One more thing:

The starting position has an impact on the play of the game. I start this quite close and high, with elbows and forearms touching and fencers bsically almost seeing themselves under their arms. In my brief experience, changing this clearly favour some actions over others. The current start position tends to make it a bit difficult for fencers to immediately swing into a close distance cut, which gives them both a bit more time to establish a grappling strategy. Other positions I tried where ones where wrists were touching (but still somewhat high), and hilts or schilts together with even a bit of an extension on the arms. As a generic but not hard rule, the latter positions started favouring initial blade work a lot more and meant that grappling happened a bit as a result of an initiative from the Knight, but who also would have a bit of a tougher time getting into position. 

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