Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Shenanigans!, or: Regency Games

This August I spent a lot of time in the Regency, and while dancing and lunching and looking cute are all loads of fun, sometimes other amusements are a nice addition to the mix.  Actually, I had so much fun that someday I would love to organize a Regency gaming night, with several card games and other activities set up for people to try.

a Regency card party, via Jane Austen's World
One of the staple games of the 19th century card table (which has survived today), whist, is on my list of things to learn this fall.  It shares several features with the modern game of bridge, and I think part of the reason I find whist so complicated is that I've never played bridge.  Maybe I can get my grandparents to teach me when they are visiting this weekend, and then I will have a head start on whist! One game I was able to master and teach quickly from the period is called commerce.  It involves trading or drawing cards in order to create the best hand as quickly as possible and win the pot.

playing Commerce in August (with period-accurate cards!)

We had a lot of fun playing commerce during Guerriere Weekend, but sometimes it's also fun to be active!  Two more active games I played this summer were Graces and Blind Man's Bluff.  I have a lot of experience playing Graces, because we taught it to children when I did living history in high school, but I'd never played Blind Man's Bluff before.

Graces illustration, 1815
Graces was a children's game popular throughout the period.  It is basically a game of catch, but you play by tossing and catching a wooden hoop using two wooden dowels.  It's a lot harder than it sounds!  The idea is to try and be graceful while playing, and I will admit that if you can throw gracefully, it makes it a lot easier for the other person to catch!  I have yet to manage actually appearing at all graceful while catching, though.
The game is usually played with two sticks per person and one hoop for the group, but we tend to challenge ourselves and will sometimes add extra hoops to the mix.

playing graces in the Boston Public Garden

two hoops!

not quite graceful...
Graces is deceptive, because it seems pretty boring but actually is a lot of fun!  That seemed to be a trend this summer...the other game we played, Blind Man's Bluff, has always seemed super dumb to me, but I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe!

Blind Man's Bluff illustration, 1803
The basic premise of Blind Man's Bluff is that one person is blindfolded, and must try to capture another player and guess who it is they have caught.  When they guess correctly, they are allowed to remove the blindfold and the captured party is the new "blind man."  The non-blindfolded players can try to avoid capture pretty much however they please, but it helps if you stomp around a lot so that the "blind" person can hear you--and don't forget to warn them about obstacles and walls!

There are some pretty embarrassing videos of us playing this, but for now you will have to be content with pictures.

playing Blind Man's Bluff at the Commandant's House

I don't know if you can really tell from these pictures, but this game was a ton of fun.  And best of all, it didn't require much beyond a hard floor (for stomping), a handkerchief (we used a clean napkin from lunch), and a sense of adventure.  I look forward to playing again! 

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE that you added historic images of the games! Super cool!