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

Sabre March

Uploaded by Stephen Cheney on 2021-08-16
Tags:   vor_nach | initiative | on_the_march |


A is attacker, B is defender. Both start in one step distance from each other, and goal for both is to land a touch.

A starts with priority, and B gets the priority for a parry-riposte.

A must continually move forward, if they stand still for more than a moment or step back, they lose. A must also start in shoulder or overhead guard, while B may start wherever they want. 

Win conditions for A:

  1. Make any hit with priority, or make a clean hit while not having priority.
  2. B crosses the back line

Win conditions for B:

  1. A stops moving forward
  2. Make any hit with priority, or make a clean hit while not having priority.
  3. A swings and misses (no parry or hit)

If someone parries and no riposte lands, fence it out until someone lands a touch, with a double being a reset with no points scored. 

Rules (added 2023-11-11 by Tea Kew)

When I'm introducing people to this game I adjust it a little to make it cleaner:

  • If B parries A, they automatically score. No fencing the touch out
Note (added 2023-01-08 by Sean Franklin)

This game is a good barometer for how much your students buy into the whole "game" concept. When I first tried it the attacker wouldn't abuse their priority to take reckless attacks at B, and B wouldn't abuse their priority to always go for the riposte. Instead I saw A launch a chain of attacks and B just defend multiple time instead of attacking. If they are taking realistic sparring actions instead of "gaming" the rules this game loses all value. (It will probably diminish most games centered around priority, but kills this one in particular.)

Note (added 2024-04-23 by Stephen Cheney)

Over the years, we've gone back and forth on which side has the advantage in this game. Whenever I ask, we get some people thinking either side has an advantage. We have recorded data on which side wins and loses throughout a class twice on this game, and both times it came out about even. It is possible that different sides have an advantage or disadvantage depending on the club's history, which stage of development your club's fencers are at, and how much you have played the game. 

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HEMA Game Archive
Developed by Sean Franklin
GD4H project