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


Uploaded by Sean Franklin on 2021-11-16
Tags:   closing | decision_to_commit | measure | momentum | timing | on_the_march | soviet_foil |


The Fencer/Fighter game is an evolution of the Soviet Foil game, with additional options. In this case both have swords. [A] = attacker, [Z] = defender.

  1. [A] hits [Z] with their attack before [Z] can back out. [A] wins.
  2. [A] does not hit anything with their attack. [Z] wins.
  3. [A] hits [Z]'s sword with their attack, and [Z] can close distance within one step. [Z] wins.
  4. [A] hits [Z]'s sword with their attack, and backs out before [Z] can close distance. [A] wins.

Like the Soviet Foil game if the attacker pressures the defender into the edge of the space the pair resets to the center with no winner. 

"Close distance" means close enough to tag the shoulder with a hand, even if the tag doesn't make contact. Note that this rule applies after any blade contact, which does allow the Fencer to just tap and run away if the Fighter is getting too twitchy with their sword. 

(added 2023-01-20 by Sean Franklin)
Rules (added 2021-11-16 by Sean Franklin)

Modifying the valid target areas, or allowed attacks from the Fencer, will change the optimal behavior for the Fighter. The more the attack is limited the more a parry is favored, the more freedom on the attack the more an evasion is favored.

Design (added 2021-11-16 by Sean Franklin)

The Fencer/Fighter game is an expansion on all the fundamental skills taught in the Soviet Foil game. It is designed to teach an attacker to be able to do a strong and fast direct attack to the target, but also be able to deliver it in moderation and be prepared to withdraw if necessary.

The defender learns the pros and cons of trying to evade an attack with footwork vs standing their ground on a parry and pushing forward. In addition they have to parry in a position that lets them explode forward out of it, instead of being passive. 

The attacker must be more measured in their attack, being committed enough that they will hit if the Fighter backs up, but reserved enough that they can switch to a retreat if the defender holds their ground.

As they play more and more there also develops a strong meta-game recognition component. If you're facing someone who strongly favors standing their ground and parrying then you can begin to modify the attacks to be able to retreat quickly. As a defender you can recognize an attacker who is easier to parry or evade, and respond accordingly.  And the next level is starting to play mind games with this information.

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HEMA Game Archive
Developed by Sean Franklin
GD4H project