Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A&S 50 Challenge: Medieval Board Games

About 3 years ago, I tried my hand at being an SCA merchant, in the hopes of increasing the amount of medieval entertainment at events. But I realized something kind of important-- when it comes to SCA events, I want to be out and participating-- not stuck in a tent waiting for customers all day. And so On A Lark vanished before it ever really began.

BUT-- I still adore medieval games and entertainment. I wanted something for my kids to do at events, if they weren't just watching the fighters. And I wanted something we could do together. But above all, even though I tend towards being a fun maven, I wanted something for us to do that was period.

And so I picked back up researching medieval games.

One of the things I love about Flintmarsh is that every year for yule, since we started having yule, we do a different board game for the shire member's gift baskets.

There are well over 200 games played in period. And what never ceases to amaze me is the sheer number of them that are STILL being played!

And so I've decided to join the A&S 50 Challenge, as my first games were being researched in May of 2007.

So here are the first 15 games that I've researched and created printable pdfs for demos and other uses:

These same printed boards can be used to make fabric versions of the games:

This last is called Gluckhaus. I have yet to create the pdf for it, but I will.

As to how you take the printed game and convert it to the really nice fabric ones, it's simple:

For the games that print out on 8 1/2 x 11,

Make a cardboard template at 9 x 9 .

You will use this one for the lighter fabric that the game itself goes on. If you stick to thin fabrics, you will be able to trace the games through the fabric before you sew the game board. Simple boards (mostly straight lines) can be sewn quickly and easily on a sewing machine. But details (like in Gluckhaus) have to be done by hand.

For the background of the game, make a cardboard template at 11 x 11. You will sew the gameboard with the edges folded under on to the center of your background fabric. I like to use the decorative sewing options on my machine to do this.

Then a quick stitch of bias tape around the edge, and viola!


  1. You mention PDF of these games above. Do you have links to these PDF?

    Many thanks.

  2. I do now!


    As the 2 files suggest-- the 8 x 11 pages print on that size paper, and the 11 x 17 should be printed on that size paper. They're too large to play on 8 x 11.

  3. These are fantastic.

    I didn't see a copyright notice. I infer from the context that you intend these to be available for people to use at SCA demos and classes. If if infer in err, may I please request permission to make these available to my students?

    John Patten

  4. That's exactly right, John (: I made them for people to use in the SCA for demos and classes. There is no copyright notice. And yes! Please make them available to your students!

  5. How wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing.

  6. Love your work- really a great idea in creating lightweight, portable classic board games from fabric! I've read that the traditional Indian "Pachisi"(Parcheesi) boards are indeed played on cloth boards in India as well. You could even use a mailing tube to store or travel with them(like the "Pente" game sets). They are beautiful- keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you (: Planning to finish the pdfs up this summer. Decided I'd like to expand my 50 goal to include more than just the pdfs for the actual celebration in 2015 (:

  7. these are great - you've indicated above that your happy for them to be used / shared, so I propose to make some to take to LARP (Empire) and to try and get the younger players playing (and hopefully even interested in finding some more of these cool games) - with the link back to your blog and credit of course

    1. That's exactly what they're here for (: I hope they enjoy playing them!

  8. Wonderful. I actually did start up a merchant business making medieval games. I am also the Games Mistress for my Barony (Glymm Mere in the kingdom of An Tir). You have one or two that I have not seen before.
    Isabella de Walingeford of Dark Ages Games.

  9. There might need a little clarification on the circular "Fidchell" game. Most sources I've read suggest Fidchell may have been a variation on a tafl game. The circular game illustrated is a modern invention by the author Nigel Suckling and is described on his website. http://www.unicorngarden.com/fidchell/origins.htm Having exchanged a couple E-mails with him a few years ago, he basically said it was inspired by the references to Fidchell in Irish legends, but that the actual board and rules he presents are his own creation, not based on actual documentation.
    -Groomporter / MacGregor Historic Games


I'd love to hear your thoughts!