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

Measure Chicken

Uploaded by Sean Franklin on 2021-08-29
Tags:   deceptive_distance | measure | defend | feint | parry | defend_the_wall |


The game starts with a basic Defend the Wall setup: [Z] (the defender) can't move and [A] (the attacker) can only target above the waist.

  • [A] makes 6 attacks in a continuous motion, no backing out and restarting allowed.

Possible outcomes:

  1. [A] lands 3 attacks, and wins (After the attacker has finished their run the defender will tell them the number of hits they landed.)
  2. [Z] gets hit with 2 or fewer attacks and wins. (aka they parry 4 or more.)
  3. [A] throws an attack out of measure, which [Z] still parries. On contact [A] stops moving and says "call", which is a win for them.
  4. [A] throws an attack out of measure which [Z] lets go by without contact. [Z] wins.

Other scenarios that come up:

  • Feints are allowed but they count as one of the 6 attacks.
  • Thrusts are allowed but you can't "call" on a thrust.
  • [A] attacks out of measure and [Z] goes to parry, but there is no contact. Call it a draw.
  • [A] calls on an attack which is a hand's width away from being in measure to hit [Z] . Call it a draw.
  • [A] may not call on any attack delivered with shortened arms, or else they could just pull-in right before impact.
(added 2023-03-22 by Sean Franklin)
Design (added 2021-08-29 by Sean Franklin)

This trains parries just like Defend the Wall, but also adds some context to the parry. In the first layer the attacker is now motivated to try to hit the defender earnestly, rather than just lazily feed strikes. Likewise the defender has a consequence for being hit.

At a higher level the defender must learn to perceive what is, and is not, a genuine threat. Fencers frequently react to provocations which are not real threats, and this can either open them up for follow up actions or cause them to not capitalize when there is an opening to attack. Though the rules are written assuming that the attacker always knows if they are throwing an attack in distance to hit their opponent, if you watch from the side you will see that they are frequently throwing attacks completely oblivious to the fact it wouldn't hit anything. If the defender figures this out first then they will lose the game on a big whiff that doesn't get parried!

Once the basic skills required to play the game are in place is when it gets really interesting, and it becomes all about mind games. How does the attacker fool the defender into not noticing a strike out of measure? Can you bait them into over focusing on measure and weaken their defense enough to hit them 3 times? As a defender should you play really conservative with your parries and risk getting hit more but protect yourself more against the auto-lose call? Good fun.

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HEMA Game Archive
Developed by Sean Franklin
GD4H project