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

Calvin Ball

Uploaded by Sean Franklin on 2023-12-28
Tags:   creativity | awareness |


Fencers fence a match to 5 points. All targets are 1 point, doubles are no score, afterblows are not valid. (Don't set this too high, as keeping track of the rules additions will be problematic.)

After every exchange the fighter who got hit (or both in a double) gets to add a new rule. This new rule can be absolutely anything that the director doesn’t deem excessively constricting on the match.

Optional Rule: If the director is impressed with the creativity, -1 point to the opponent.

Valid Rules:

There is no restriction to how crazy a rule can be, but the director can reject it if:

  • Un-enforceable. The rule is too vague/difficult to keep track of. Eg: “cuts that rotate between 30 and 45 degrees are worth a bonus point”.
  • Scope is too broad as to completely change fencing. “No thrusts” or “hopping on one foot” are too broad, “No thrusts to torso” or “hopping on one foot while out of measure” is acceptable. Point values can only change by +/- 1 point per rule. 
  • Rule directly contradicts another rule. If someone says “hands are worth 0” then “hands are worth 1 point” isn’t valid. (However, something that doesn’t directly contradict like “targets currently above shoulder height are worth +1” could lead to a hand hit getting points.)
  • Rule has been used already. Once a director accepts a rule, no one else may use that rule for the rest of the night.
  • Rules must apply equally to both. However, differentiating based on something like “whoever scored on the last exchange gets priority in a double on the next one” is acceptable because it applies equally to both.
  • The rule is judged as the director understood it, even if that isn’t what the fighter intended. 

If in doubt as to accept a rule, think "would this make the match more or less interesting".


  • If a director thinks a rule is too broad, they can narrow the scope and accept the rule (without needing the fighter’s permission). If not, they can kick it back, and if no improved rule is presented within a 5-count it is a yellow card.
  • If someone is not able to propose a rule in a timely manner the director will start a 5-count. If there is no rule produced by the countdown, then it is a yellow card.  

Design (added 2023-12-28 by Sean Franklin)

Mostly this is just a game for fun. But there is also some strategy involved, in that fighters should be thinking about guiding the rules in a way that favors their style vs their opponent’s style.

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HEMA Game Archive
Developed by Sean Franklin
GD4H project