I returned yesterday from a visit to the Osnabrück branch of my School, where every day of training was followed by one or two small beers, and playing Audatia. These guys are good enough (at the game, at least 🙂 ) that I got at least one pommel strike in my face, and ate a sword point or two.
Which is all well and good; it never fails to give me a buzz to have a group of Italian-style swordsmen in the heart of Germany!
But German swordsmanship, especially Medieval German swordsmanship, is (and it kills me to say so) every bit as sophisticated and effective as the Italian.
Which is why I wanted to incorporate German swordsmanship into my card game. To this end, I met up first with our illustrious Patron, Teemu Kari, to go over what he wanted.
His is a Character Deck, like the other three (Galeazzo, Boucicault, Agnes), but instead of being trained in Fiore’s system, the Patron's Character is German, and uses German swordsmanship.
Then we needed a long session with our genius designer, Samuli Raninen. It was one of those days when you look up from your work, realise that you're hungry, and discover that it's 4pm and you forgot to stop for lunch.
My impression is that just as Fiore’s Armizare does not equate to “general Italian medieval combat”, Liechtenauer’s art does not equate to “what all Germans did for swordfighting in the 14th and 15th centuries”. So the Patron deck has German terminology, and some Liechtenauer techniques (such as Winden and Zucken), but if he wants to throw a Schielhau, he’s going to need some extra training in the form of the Liechtenauer Expansion Pack.
The Patron Deck works like the other Characters, in that he has guards (the Liechtenauer ones though, not Fiore’s), blows (named in German, but with the same characteristics as the Italian versions), and his own set of special skills (including some top-secret and very cool ones, such as Throw the Sword…). Where he is most different though is in the Stretto cards. He has all the counter-remedies, so he is not an easy mark for us Italians, but several of his Stretto Remedies have been replaced with German-style winding and binding actions.
The Expansion Pack is quite different. It contains only the four guards that Liechtenauer actually recommends:
Ochs, Pflug, Vom Tag and Alber, with Ochs and Pflug on both sides, so six cards in all. We have left out the rest of them (Schrankhut, Nebenhut, and so on, though they are in the Patron Deck).
Then there are twenty “Technique” cards, including one of each of the five Meisterhau, and fifteen other Liechtenauer concepts, such as Mutieren and Duplieren, Uberlauffen, and so on. You get five of these to play with in total, but instead of going into your hand to be “spent” when you play them, they are returned to your Expansion Pack hand and may be re-used. This is because they act to modify an existing Action card that you play; they cannot be played on their own. For example, Zwerchau allows you to use a Mezano as a counter-attack; Absetzen allows you to defend with a Thrust (Punta or Ort) from any Posta.
As always, these cards play nicely together, and any game you play can be replayed sword-in-hand. But they do not of course behave exactly like swords (which is why medieval knights did not usually fight with small cardboard oblongs).
Jussi, our graphic artist, has been working on the art for a while now. We have drafts of much of the decks already, we thought that Sigmund Ringeck would be a good model for our Expansion Pack character:
We are nearly there!