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The History

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The Rules

A Sample Game


The Rules of Coppertwaddle

The Bentham Fish
(Being a nycely descrybed exposition of the means and methods of the playing of the game of Coppertwaddle under the confinements of the XVIth Folio as published under the seal of the Society of Coppertwaddlers in the year of our Lord Two Thousand.)

Mount Ararat

Frequently Asked Questions
Mappa Mundi
Quick Reference Guide (an MS Word document)

Coppertwaddle is a mediaeval game of skill and strategy based on a deck of fifty-five special cards. Two players compete to build two RANKS (NOBLE and PEASANT) of THRELMS. The first player to complete two Ranks of PROUD (face-up) Threlms wins.

Game Components: A single fifty-five card deck of Coppertwaddle cards and this rulebook. You will also need a clean flat surface to play on. Mediaeval costume is optional.

The Object of the Game: Each player has a playing area in which they will place various cards. This area is called your DOMAIN. Each Domain has eight vacant areas (called DITCHES), four at the top and four at the bottom, forming a grid with four columns and two rows. The top row is known as the Noble Rank, and the bottom row is known as the Peasant Rank.

Noble Rank





Peasant Rank





Figure 1 - Simple Representation of a Player's Domain

Threlms occupy vacant Ditches matching their Rank in your Domain, by being played from your hand of available cards, or by ROBBING (using your Threlms already in play to steal a Threlm from your opponent). The winner of the game is the first player to populate his or her Noble Rank with four NOBLE Threlms and his or her Peasant Rank with four PEASANT Threlms, all of which are face up (Proud) at the end of the player’s turn. Winning the game is determined only at the end of that player’s turn. The winner’s victory score is calculated by adding together the POWER of all Threlms in the winner’s Domain (there will, of course, be eight Threlms).

Massinger's Protection

Setting up the Game: Shuffle the Coppertwaddle deck and place it in a central position, so that both players can reach it. The cards remaining to be drawn from the Coppertwaddle deck are known as the TRUMPET. Cards are discarded to the discard pile, which is called the MIDDEN.

Determine which player is to take the first turn. Players are permitted to examine any cards in play at any time, including those in the Midden, but not in the Trumpet. Cards in your hand should be concealed from your opponent.

The Turn Order: To co-ordinate the play, a Coppertwaddle player must follow a strict order of play during his or her turn. A brief summary of the stages of a player's turn is given below, followed by detailed rules for each stage.

The player who is taking his or her turn is called the GUARDIAN. The other player is called the CHALLENGER.

For the next turn, the current Guardian becomes the Challenger and vice versa.

Engagement: The Guardian makes Proud (turns face up) all covered (face down) Threlms in his or her Domain and draws a card from the top of the Trumpet. If the Guardian is unable to draw from the Trumpet, then the game is over and considered a tie.

Challenging: The Challenger may now use Threlm abilities, play Favour cards or pass. Note that the Guardian cannot play his or her own cards and abilities at this time, unless stated otherwise on the card (e.g. the Coppertwaddle card).

There is no limit to how many cards the Challenger may play at this point.

En Garde: The Guardian may now play Favours, lay a single Threlm, lay Declarations upon any Threlm and/or use Threlm abilities. The Guardian may take these actions in any order. Note that the Challenger cannot play his or her own cards and abilities at this time, unless stated otherwise on the card.

Playing Declarations: The Guardian may play as many Declarations as desired from his or her hand. Declarations can be played on Proud Threlms in either Domain. You may play Declarations only when you are the Guardian, and only during the En Garde stage. Place the Declaration under the selected Threlm, with the card name visible. You may place multiple Declarations on the same Threlm, if desired.


Playing Threlms: The Guardian may play one Threlm (only) from his or her hand into a vacant Ditch of the appropriate Rank in the Guardian's domain, filling Ditches from left to right. A newly placed Threlm is always placed in the leftmost vacant Ditch, so that any gaps left by Robbed or discarded Threlms are filled in. Once placed, a Threlm must remain in the Ditch into which it was played, unless moved by an effect from a card. A covered Threlm cannot be robbed or affected by card abilities, unless the card explicitly refers to Threlms that are covered.

Playing Wind Threlms: Instead of laying any other Threlm, the Guardian may lay one of the Wind Threlms (North, South, East, and West) from his or her hand into any Peasant Rank Ditch that is either vacant or contains a covered Threlm. The Peasant Rank Ditch may be in either Domain. A covered Threlm with a Wind on top of it is described as "pressed". Pressed Threlms cannot be made proud until the Wind has been removed.

Playing Favours: The Guardian may play as many Favours as desired from his or her hand.

Robbing: The Guardian may attempt to Rob a Threlm from an opponent's Domain. When the Robbing is finally resolved, if the Robbers’ Power is greater than the Defenders' Power, and the selected Threlm is still Proud, then the Robbing has succeeded.

A Robbing is performed in the following order:

The Guardian announces his or her intention to Rob and identifies the target of the Robbing and those Threlms from the Guardian’s Domain, who will be using their Power to attempt to steal the selected Threlm. A Robbing can only be announced if the current combined Power of the Robbers is greater than the current Power of the Threlm that is the target of the Robbing, excluding any support.

All Threlms identified as participating in a Robbing must follow these rules:


Both players check the initial Robbers’ Power and Defenders' Power.

The Robbers’ Power is calculated by adding up the current Power of all Robbing Threlms (including any bonuses they may have received up to now from Declarations, Favours or other Threlm abilities).

The Defenders' Power is calculated by adding up the Power of the target Threlm and the Power of any Threlms in the Ditches immediately to the left and right of the target Threlm. In addition, if the Threlm is Noble, add the Power of the Peasant in the Peasant Rank immediately below the Noble (if one is present).

Glad Tidings

Robbing and Support: All Threlms participating in a Robbing or in a Threlm’s defence, including the Threlm that is the target of the Robbing, are deemed to be providing Support. Cards and abilities may be played during the Robbing that negate this support. This means that the Threlm is no longer able to add its Power to the Robbers’ Power or Defenders' Power, as appropriate, and it may not use any abilities that affect the Power of other Threlms. A previously activated ability of a Threlm whose support is negated, is discounted from the calculation of Powers. A Robbing Threlm whose support is negated is no longer involved in the Robbing and consequently would not be covered upon success.

Playing Favours During a Robbing: After a Robbing has been declared, each player (starting with the Guardian) may now use a Threlm ability or Favour, alternating turns until neither wishes to play further abilities or Favours. Note that Declarations may not be played at this stage.

After both players have decided not to play further abilities or Favours, the Robbers’ Power and Defenders' Power are calculated again. If the Robbers’ Power is superior AND THE TARGET THRELM IS STILL PROUD, the Robbing is successful. The Robbing player covers all his or her Threlms that are still involved in the Robbing and gains control of the target Threlm. It is placed, covered, in the left-most Ditch in the appropriate Rank of the Guardian’s Domain.

If the Robbing is unsuccessful, all Robbing Threlms remain Proud. You cannot rob any of the Wind Threlms.

Respite: The Guardian now declares that it is the end of the turn. If he or she has a full Domain at this point, with all Threlms Proud, then he or she has won. If a player has more than four cards in hand during this stage, then he or she must choose and discard to the Midden any cards in excess of four. Play now proceeds to the other player.

Figure 2 - Sample Layout of Domains For Demonstrating Robbing
Figure 2 - Sample Layout of Domains For Demonstrating Robbing

Figure 2 shows a sample game of Coppertwaddle in progress; this arrangement is used in the following illustrative examples of Robbing.

Robbing Example One:

King Henry declares his intention to Rob Mount Ararat with The Bentham Fish and Trepaner. At the time this Robbing is announced, Henry's robbing value is 9 + 1 = 10 (the sum of the Powers of all Robbing Threlms), whilst Anne's defensive value is 8 (Mount Ararat) , so the announcement is valid. Then the initial Robbers’ Power and Defenders' Power are calculated. Then the initial Robbers' Power and Defenders' Power are calculated. Henry's Robbing value is the same (10), while Anne's Defenders' Power gains plus 1 (from Hammer & Anvil immediately behind the Noble) = 9 ; currently, Henry is looking to have the advantage.

However, once the Robbing has been announced, Queen Anne may play a Favour from her hand or use an appropriate Threlm ability. Anne uses the ability of Lute & Bellows (Lute & Bellows may be covered during a Robbing to give any other Peasant Threlm in Anne's domain +3 Power until the end of turn) selecting Hammer & Anvil as the target, making it's Power rise to 4 until the end of the turn.

Henry declines playing any further favours or abilities, and so we recalculate the Robbing value, unchanged at 9+1=10, and the defensive value, which is now 8+4=12. Given that the defensive value is greater than the Robbing value, the Robbing has failed.


Robbing Example Two:

This time the Robbing is to be performed by Queen Anne. Before she has declared her intention to Rob, however, she has played Compass against The Bentham Fish.

Compass is a Favour with the following effect: Selected proud Threlm's Power cannot be used during a Robbing, and you cannot use its special abilities for the rest of this turn.

This renders the Fish useless in that its Power won't be counted in the Defensive value, and it is unable to use its special ability to 'cover out of the way' (remember that if the Threlm selected as the target of a Robbing is subsequently covered before the end of the Robbing, it cannot be Robbed).

Queen Anne selects The Bentham Fish as her target, and wishes to use Mount Ararat as the Robber. The Robbing value is 8, whilst the Defensive value is 0 (the Fish), plus any adjacent Nobles (1 for Trepaner), plus a Peasant, if any, behind the target (in this case Flibber-de-Gibbet with a Power of 3) ie. 0+1+3=4. After both King Henry and Queen Anne have declined to play Favours or abilities, the Robbing value exceeds the Defensive value (8 to 4) and the Robbing is a success.

Flibber De Gibbet

Victory Points: When a player has a full Domain (4 Noble Threlms and 4 Peasant Threlms, all of which are Proud), he or she has won. The scale of the victory is determined by the final score - this is calculated by adding together the current Power values of all Threlms in his or her Domain and, in addition, bonuses conferred by Declarations and Favours. The following terms describe the scale of a victory: under 20 points is a MISERAE, between 21 and 49 is ORDINARY, and over 50 is TRIUMPHAL.

A Coppertwaddle Suite: A SUITE is a series of three games. The victor of a Suite is decided by awarding:

Some examples: King Henry and Queen Ann play a couple of Suites of Coppertwaddle. In the first Suite Ann quickly wins the first game, using the Bentham Fish and Lute & Bellows to dominate both Ranks. She scores 48, a reasonably high score, but not triumphal. In the second game, Henry fights back well to win with a score of 36. The third game results in a victory for Ann, who scores 35. Ann is awarded a point for each of her wins, and Henry one point for his win. Ann has another point for the highest score, 48. Ann also has the highest overall score (83 to Henry's 36). So Ann wins the Suite by 4 points to Henry’s 1.

In the second Suite Henry wins the first game with a score of 30, a moderate score. In the second game Henry opts to attempt a quick win, by playing Threlms with low Power values. Henry wins again, but only scores 19, but at least he has 2 points towards winning the Suite. The third deciding game is hard-fought, but Ann comes out on top with a massive score of 54. Although Ann was only victorious in one game, she gains 3 points, one for her win, one for having the highest score and one for the highest overall score (54 against Henry's 49). Ann wins the second Suite too: King Henry is very annoyed.

"To Thee The Coppertwaddling Man and Mayde,
Be Thou Sure Thy Debts are Payde"

For more information about Coppertwaddle (including card histories and strategies, play variants, and The Abbot's Puzzle) visit our web site at:




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