So for those of you who have been to the Bar at various events, we have a game called House of Fortune (1) that we play. I was introduced to this game by Carl the Oblique who had a board and I was very impressed. It also didn’t hurt that I had just received a 5 gallon batch of mead from a Meadery that was closing. He, I and several other friends had drinks and played this game most of the afternoon. We all laughed and drank and had the best time, so of course I had to go make my own board.
The game is a German 15th Century creation that was played by Soldiers who were trying to kill time between battles. They would bring their spoils of war and use them as bids. The game has basicly three ways to end:
- Win all the stuff and walk away
- Lose all the stuff and walk away
- Sneak your unwanted stuff to other players and claim #2
So the first thing you need is a pile of tidbits and small trinkets to bring to the game. I usually allow folks to bring anything that would pass for medieval. Jewels made of plastic, bracelets, small knives, coins, tokens, etc.
Here’s the Board: You’ll notice each square has a number on it and the 12 and 7 hold either end of the board. This particular board is 5 years old so it’s seen some play.
You start by rolling two six-sided dice and if you roll any of the numbers 3, 5, 8, 9, 10 & 11 you look at the square and see if there’s something on there. If there is, Great! You win what’s on the square. If there’s nothing, you have to put something on that space. Then you pass the dice to the next person to your right.
If you roll a 7, you just pay into it. No one ever collects on a 7, this is referred to the Marriage (Dowry). If you Roll a 2 (The Pig) , you win everything on the board except what’s on the 7. If you Roll a 12 (The King), you win everything including the Wedding.
You’ll also notice that there’s not a 4 on the board. The reason for this is that the #4 is how you get others into the game. When a 4 is rolled you pay into a Bowl that sits on the side of the table. No one ever takes from the 4 bowl except when someone new walks over and says “Hey that looks cool, can I play?” Immediately you empty the contents of the bowl into their hands and they are now part of the game.
In some of the games we’ve played, I’ve also put a shot or two of alcohol (or water/ it’s anyone’s guess) and if a poor unfortunate soul rolls that square they have to drink the shot along with whatever consequences the square already had. The game is a lot of fun and doesn’t take a lot of time to get the hang of. Carl told me of a player he was in a game with who put a troy ounce of silver down on one of the squares, thinking he would get it back eventually. He was wrong.
You can go several hands being rich, then poor then rich again. It’s all in Lady Lucks hands.
In my research, I’ve also found that the above board was not the only format for the game. Usually all it took was a piece of cloth or a table top where the squares or similar designs could be clearly printed:
Any number of formats can be used. If you’re coming to Great Northeastern War next week, by all means, get your trinkets together and come on Friday night to play. We’ll be celebrating my 50th Birthday and I’d love to win some new trinkets.