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

Counted Parries

Uploaded by Nathan Weston on 2022-12-18
Tags:   momentum | attack | chain_attacks | feint | parry_riposte |


    • [A] is the attacker, [B] is the defender.
    • Switch roles on each exchange, continuing until one fencer reaches 5 points.
    • Fencers may only score when it's their turn. Hits made during the opponent's turn are ignored.
    • [A] takes the first turn -- they can make two blows, and each hit is worth 1 point.
    • After [A] has delivered their blows, [B] gets one blow. If it hits, it's worth 2 points. [B] still gets a turn even if one or both of [A]'s attacks hit.

    An exchange may end early if:

    • Fencers break measure any time after the first blow has been delivered.
    • Fencers come to a clinch or otherwise get tangled up
    • [B] retreats out of the ring

    Any contact with the opponent's sword or body counts as a blow ("anything that makes a noise" is a good rule of thumb when judging). Feints, or actions in the bind which maintain blade contact, don't count as blows. An action which makes blade contact and then hits the opponent in a single motion is counted as one blow. This does means that you can use beats and aggressive parries to proactively disrupt and take away your opponent's blows.

    Design (added 2022-12-18 by Nathan Weston)

    Counted Parries works on a lot of skills related to both attack and defense. It's a complicated game which can take a while for people to get the hang of, but it also has a lot of depth so it's worth playing for a while.

    The defender learns to deal with multiple attacks, and to defend in a ways that constrain the opponent's next attack or set up their own offense. The attacker learns to pick their strikes carefully, and to put pressure on the defender. The game forces both players to plan ahead and keep track of what's going on during the exchange.

    When I was developing this game, I had some problems early on with [A] marching forward indefinitely and only committing to attacks from extremely close range, which seemed to leave [B] no good options. I experimented with some rules changes to deal with this, such as allowing [B] an attack on preparation in some circumstances, but they made the game more complicated and didn't help much. Eventually we found ways for [B] to at least force a draw in this situation, which made it usually a non-optimal strategy for [A].

    Note (added 2022-12-18 by Nathan Weston)

    There are some interesting situations which can arise in this game, which are worth discussing in more detail:

    • [A] can march forward indefinitely without committing to an attack. [B] has a few options for dealing with this:
      • Try to find [A]'s sword and force a bind or beat their blade
      • Close to grappling, which ends the pass early with no score
      • Abandon defense, accept the hits and immediately make an afterblow for a 2-2 exchange. This works as long as you're ahead.
    • [A] lands one hit and then withdraws. Exchange ends early due to breaking measure, 1 point for [A]. This is a good conservative attacking strategy if you can reliably land snipes.
    • [A] makes one blow, then hesitates in measure without delivering their second blow.
      • [B] can break measure to end the pass early
      • Or they can attack with a beat or opposition - the blade contact counts as [A]'s second blow, then the attack scores
    • [A] makes more than two attacks. After the second blow, they can't score more points. But if the extra attacks result in blade contact, they count as [B]'s blow so they can end the pass.
    • [B] counterattacks into [A]'s second attack. This can score if they establish opposition during the attack. In the event of a double it's a point for [A]. If [B] hits with a counterattack and then covers, this doesn't score because the attack landed during [A]'s turn.

    Note (added 2023-01-20 by Nathan Weston)

    This game is hard to self-call so it works best with a judge.

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