If you're into D/s, BDSM, etc., and used to things being unequal, have I got a game for you! Fox & Geese is a game that dates back to the Vikings and is admirable for one very unusual aspect: it is one of the only board games with unequal sides, often with different rules, vying to win in a balanced contest. Unfortunately that impressive distinction is also its biggest downfall. Achieving a balance between unequal sides is elusive at best, and may well be impossible.
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Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Fox & Geese
One classic example of a Fox & Geese gameboard.
Researching the game yields one very consistent result: inconsistency! There are so many variations to this game that it is mindboggling. It seems that each time a set of rules were enacted, either the fox or geese had an advantage. So someone would add a new rule or change something to try to balance the odds only to have the scales tip in the other direction.
The basic game usually involves some number of geese and one (sometimes two) fox(es). The fox moves about wherever it wishes trying to either kill geese or pass them and get to the opposite end of the board. The geese cannot move backwards nor kill the fox, so their goal is to use strategy and numbers to trap it so it cannot make another move. This game often seems to come down to not making a mistake.....like tic tac toe. If you play well, the geese seem predisposed to winning, but if they make a mistake, then the fox has a good chance of turning the tables.
Recently my son found a very basic version of the game he got at Colonial Williamsburg many years ago and thought it would be a good addition to either my Federal Period living room, or for our Annual RenFaire. We tried a few different versions and I even modified the board, but we still seem to find the game is never quite balanced. It is however, undeniably quaint.
My question to all of you is if you've ever played this and found a version that seems balanced, with equal opportunity for either a fox win or geese win, please let me know.
If you've never played, doing so is as simple as drilling some holes in a board and using something as pegs to move about. It's never going to replace chess as the ultimate board game, but it is historic and unique in its gameplay. So give it a try.....if for no other reason than the novelty of playing something that is not new at all.