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Have You Anything To Declare?

Being A Modest Enquiry Into The Forms And Usage Of Declarations, Incorporating The Suggestion Of A Play Variant Which May Be Of Interest by Chandler Angrédénnes


This article has been written as a response to many critics who dismiss the Coppertwaddle 'Declaration' cards as irrelevant and out-dated.1 Often ignored (and, as a consequence, discarded), the lesser of the three natures contain many possibilities beyond simply 'protecting' or 'promoting'. To this end, 'Have You Anything To Declare' will explore each of the Declarations in turn and suggest styles of play, combinations, and tricks. As a concluding titbit, I have also explained the rules for 'Cooper's Tort', a fun (non-tournament) variant of our favourite game.

It will not come as a surprise to find that there are groupings and sub-groupings amongst the Declarations even as there are throughout Coppertwaddle. I would suggest that such groupings are an inevitable consequence of its long history, providing numerous abbreviations and short-cuts to describe game components, situations, strategies, and plays. This has provided much materiel for articles in the past and will, no doubt, provide much for the future; however, I shall simply refer briefly to these groupings, as it is to the heart of the cards that I wish to journey.

Current Rules

I shall begin with some simple reinforcing of the 16th Folio rule set with regard to Declarations; in summary, Declarations are playable and interpreted as follows:

And now to the cards themselves!

Part One: The Hierarchical (or Rank) Declarations

The hierarchical declarations (HD) are 'A Long Climb' and 'Of A Bastard Line' respectively. They modify the current hierarchical state of a Threlm as long as they remain upon it, in play. The hierarchical state is simply the current Rank assignment for the Threlm, which determines its valid placement within a Domain. A Peasant Threlm effectively has its label of Peasant, as printed on the card, changed to Noble when 'A Long Climb' is played upon it; equally, a Noble is regarded as a Peasant in all things concerning Rank if 'Of A Bastard Line' is played, and remains, upon it.2

A Long Climb
(Place on any proud peasant Threlm; it is now a noble Threlm. Place it in any vacant noble Ditch in its Domain. If no noble Ditch in its Domain is vacant, discard it and this card)

Of A Bastard Line
(Place on any proud noble Threlm; it is now a peasant Threlm. Place it in any vacant peasant Ditch in its Domain. If no peasant Ditch in its Domain is vacant, discard it and this card)

One can immediately see the application for both cards when seeking to populate one's own Domain with Threlms by

However, the Rank Declarations can also be used to eliminate a Threlm. The second condition of the Declaration, which is often missed, specifies that promoting or demoting a Threlm into an already-full Rank will result in it being destroyed! Remember, also, that this placement rule applies in reverse, as it were, i.e. when an hierarchical declaration is removed (using 'Peaked Cap'), the Threlm must immediately return to its appropriate Rank and a vacant space within - if it cannot, then it is destroyed! The more cautious player will attempt to play around the possibility of his opponent having either of these cards for this very reason - to avoid the unnecessary loss of a powerful Threlm.

Part Two: The Fortitudinous Declarations

The Fortitudinous Declarations are 'The Birthday' and 'War With France' respectively. They modify the current strength value of the selected Threlm.

The Birthday
(Place on any proud Threlm; it gains 1 Power)

War with France
(Place on any proud Threlm; it loses 1 Power)

In summary, the common uses for these Declarations are:

It should be noted that, although briefly mentioned, the favour 'Peaked Cap' can devastate a strategy if played at the correct time by removing the benefits/disadvantages of any of the previously-mentioned Declarations. Oftentimes, it is better to preserve the value of surprise by playing it during a Robbing.

Part Three: The Unspecified Declarations

The Unspecified Declarations are 'The Hazelnut' and 'Massinger's Protection' respectively. Both are distinct and separate in their function, unlike the paired Declarations we have already explored; thus, I shall consider each for their own merits.

The Hazelnut
(Place on any proud Threlm. If the Threlm becomes covered with The Hazelnut still upon it, discard them both)

The Hazelnut serves a three-fold purpose:

Massinger's Protection
(Place on any proud Threlm. That Threlm may not be the target of a Robbing until this Declaration has been removed)

Simply, this Declaration secures a Threlm from being the target of a Robbing. It does not, however, restrict the Threlm from participating in a Robbing itself.

Cooper's Tort

Now that we have discussed the standard applications for Coppertwaddle Declarations, one can amend one of the core tenets of the game to give us the popular public house variant of Cooper's Tort. Cooper's Tort is a Victorian invention intended to introduce an element of surprise.

To summarise, it changes the nature of a Declaration to that of a Favour, i.e. all Declarations may be played as if they had the word 'Favour' written upon them. Thus, while still remaining upon their selected Threlm when played, they may be utilised during the En Garde phase (as normal) by the Guardian, as part of a Challenge by the Challenger, and/or during a Robbing by either party.

One can readily see how being able to play these cards in such a manner could lead to more 'surprises' and, as a consequence, more unpredictable swings in game fortune. However, as a fun spin-off, it is entertaining and delightfully chaotic.

Chandler Angrédénnes

1 Most notably Mark Utler (O.B.E) in his treatise "Notes On Recovered Card Games" - Lupine Press, 2000
2 There are complications when regarding Mappa Mundi. For further information about this card, please refer to the Mappa Mundi Rules.



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