En Garde

A game for two players from Reiner Knizia.

This translation, John Webley

Game length c. 20 minutes.

Experience the fascination of fencing. Tactics, skill and a bit of luck prove which fencer is the better. Test yourself in the basic game, or as a master in the advanced game.

Recommended by the German Fencing Association.


Basic Game

The basic game offers a easy way of playing the game. The board shows a fencing piste of 23 spaces, and two hit markers, each from 0 to 5. The two marker stones are placed on the 0 spaces of the two hit markers, each player chooses one of the Swordsman figures.

Play of Game

The game is played over several rounds, the first to win 5 rounds is the winner. At the start of each round, the two Swordsman figures are placed onto the two end spaces of the board. The cards are well shuffled and each player is dealt 5 cards which he looks at without showing them to his opponent. The rest of the cards are placed face down in a pile by the board. The players decide who is to start, the start player then alternates in every subsequent round.

Players play alternately. the player whose turn it is to play, chooses one of his cards and then moves his Swordsman the exact number of spaces on the board as shown on the card (Diagram 1). The player can decide whether to move forwards or backwards. The swordsman may not move off the board, nor may he move onto or over the space occupied by the other swordsman. At the end of his turn the player takes a replacement card or cards from the pack until he once again has five cards in his hand, then his opponent takes his turn in the same way. Cards played are put face down in a pile so that only the last card played is visible. Players may not search through this pile to see what cards have been played earlier.

Attacks and Hits

When a player is able to play a card which will allow his swordsman figure to move exactly onto the square occupied by his opponent, then, instead of moving he calls "Attack". In the Basic game every attack leads to a hit (Diagram 2).

Ending and Winning a Round

The Round ends as soon as a player achieves a hit, this player wins the round. Alternatively a round ends when one player can make no legal move. This player loses the round. If no player has won or lost, a round ends when one player draws the last card from the pack. Players may count the remaining number of cards in the pack at any time. Once the last card has been drawn neither swordsman figure may be moved further, but the opponent has one last chance to attack and so win the round.

If a round ends without a player winning it outright, it is won by the player whose figure has moved furthest down the board, if both figures have moved the same distance then the round is drawn.

The player who wins the round moves his marker stone on the hit marker one space forwards. Once this marker reaches 5 that player has won.

Standard Game

Attacks and Parries

In the basic game, every attack leads to a hit, in the standard version, attacks may be parried.

As in the basic game, a player attacks by playing a card which would allow his figure to move exactly onto the space occupied by his opponent. The attacker may now play more cards of the same value to strengthen his attack (Diagram 3). Only when he has laid as many cards as he wishes may he replenish his hand from the pack. The opponent now has the opportunity to "parry". To do this he must play the same number of cards as his opponent and with them reach the same value as the attacker's cards. For example, if an attacker had laid a "3" card as an attack, and then a further "3" card as a strengthener, then his opponent could parry by laying a "2" card and a "4" card, using the same number of cards, 2, to make the same value of 6, or he could parry with a "1" and a "5" or two "3"s. If the defender is unable to parry then the attacker scores a hit and the round is over.

If the parry is successful, the defender must then take his own turn before he can replenish his hand from the pack. This may mean that he plays a card and moves as normal, (Diagram 4), or alternatively he may be able to counterattack (Riposte), by playing a card which enables him to move exactly onto the space occupied by his opponent. Only when the defender has taken his own turn may he take more cards to make his hand back up to 5 cards.

Ending and Winning a Round

As in the basic game, the round ends at latest when a player takes the last card from the pack. If the last player to play attacks then his opponent must parry the attack, otherwise he loses.

If the cards are all drawn without either player winning the round, then the players may turn over their remaining cards. They then see whether either, or both still have any cards which would allow an attack, i.e. cards of the same value as the gap between the two figures. If one player has more of such cards than the other, he wins the round. Only if this fails to produce a result is the distance traveled down the board relevant.

Advanced Game

The Standard game allows for three possible moves:
  1. A move forwards
  2. A move backwards
  3. An attack

Players who wish to complicate things still further may try introducing a fourth possibility, an advance and attack, which greatly increases the power of the swordsmen.

Advance and Attack

This involves first laying a card to allow the swordsman to move forwards as per possibility (1) above, and then the playing of a second card to attack in the same turn. (Diagram 4). Thus if the two swordsmen were 8 spaces apart, a player could play a "3" card to move 3 spaces forwards and then a "5" card in the same turn to attack. The player being attacked now has two possibilities for defense. Firstly he can stand his ground and parry in the normal way, in the example above he would have to lay a "5" card to parry and then another card for his own turn. Alternatively he can give ground by simply moving backwards. The attacker then plays again in the normal way. It should be noted that a normal attack (possibility 3) above), may only be defended with a parry, the movement backwards only defends against the advance and attack.

Translated by John Webley

Distributed by Mike Siggins from The Sumo Rules Bank

The Game Cabinet - editor@gamecabinet.com - Ken Tidwell