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

Soviet Foil

Uploaded by Sean Franklin on 2021-04-27
Tags:   measure | momentum | timing | ballistic_passing_step | no_gear | on_the_march | soviet_foil |


[A] (the attacker) has a sword, [Z] (the defender) may or may not have a sword, but they aren't allowed to do anything with it. Both are allowed to move around freely but [A] can't change their guard. The game goes until [A] launches a single attack against [Z].

  1. If [A] hits they win.
  2. If [Z] can dodge they win.

If the defender gets close enough to the boundary of the space they call "reset" and they return to the starting position. The defender should never feel that their ability to move quickly is limited by the space. This means that the attacker can't rush down the defender, they must bait them into coming in range. Adding a rule that the attacker can't cross their feet until the actual attack can also help reduce charging.

(added 2023-01-20 by Sean Franklin)
Design (added 2021-04-27 by Sean Franklin)

The Soviet Foil is a game which teaches an understanding of distance, posture, and momentum. At a surface level both the attacker and defender must understand the distance that can be covered by a single attack. But soon they will shift into trying to bait each other and then they must understand how both their and their opponent's posture affects how quickly they can move, and how their momentum affects how quickly they can change direction. 

The defender will learn to read the body language of the attacker, and run away whenever they perceive an attack is coming. This means the attacker must deliver attacks with as few visual cues as possible. After playing this game for a long period of time you start to see people getting really creative, baiting with feints and counterfeits as they try to manipulate their opponent's perception of the distance and timing.

By changing the position the defender is holding the sword in you will also change how they move. If they don't have a sword you will see a lot of big leans as they attempt to matrix out of an attack. Holding the sword in a different position limits the way you can move the torso, and to a lesser extent the feet.

Note (added 2023-01-20 by Sean Franklin)

It also helps to remind the defender that "you can't win if they don't swing". Running away won't help the defender, they have to try to bait the attacker into an attack that they think they can avoid. 

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HEMA Game Archive
Developed by Sean Franklin
GD4H project