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

Despot in the Hole

Uploaded by Sean Franklin on 2023-03-12
Tags:   krieg | vor_nach | doubles | chain_attacks | cut_as_defense | asymmetric_skill | longsword | grublein |


This is an evolution of the King in the Hole game, however this time (instead of King/Peasant) we have the [Despot] and the [Rebel]. (And it's no longer good to be the king.)

  1. The [Despot] must land a clean hit on the [Rebel] to win.
  2. The [Rebel] can win by landing a clean hit or a double where they strike to the upper opening.
  3. In the case of a double with the [Rebel] striking the lower openings (torso, legs) it is a draw, and reset.

Movement restrictions:

  • Despot starts with their back to the wall. They can not step forward until the [Rebel] attacks, however can attack anything in range.
  • Once the [Rebel] attacks the [Despot] is allowed to move, but not run away to the side.
  • If measure breaks after a few sword actions reset and start again.

Once the [Despot] loses twice in a row switch roles. Play to 10+ passes.

Rules (added 2023-04-08 by Sean Franklin)

Alternate way to rotate fencers:
2+ Rebels, 1 Despot , while one Rebel is fighting the others are waiting for their turn. If the Rebel loses (Despot win) the next Rebel gets their shot. If the Despot loses twice in a row to the same Rebel they get ousted and become a Rebel-in-waiting. This makes a rotation where the better fencers spend far more time as the Despot and the weaker ones are rotating through as Rebels. 

It also makes for fun narratives/banter back and forth as people are winning and 'seizing power'. If you have enough people maybe you could have multiple 'countries' going, with the ever changing pool of Rebels constantly vying control of each? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Design (added 2023-03-12 by Sean Franklin)

After they got a chance to free sparing at an event, I saw one instructor tell another "you fight like you're used to being the best fighter in your club. You're used to driving the fight and having them respond to you, but not so good at paying attention and responding to what the other fighter does." Which I thought was pretty good advice that I wouldn't have thought of.

This game was designed to be asymmetrical in nature, with the Despot being the role you put the 'better' fencer into. They are now required to force a counter within the Rebel's chain of attacks; instead of just being able to take the vor off the bat, or bait them to overextend and use nachrisen. This is why I have the Despot shifting out after two failures in a row, because the better fighter will end up spending more time in this role. 

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HEMA Game Archive
Developed by Sean Franklin
GD4H project