by Erik Leipnik

Erik has been "in the computer game" since 1970, but says he doesn't really believe in computers. He does believe in specially arranged layouts to help people think.

Instructional Objective Players will learn which "houses" (Tudor, Stuart, etc.) the 42 English monarchs, since 1066, belong to. Players will be more familiar with the sequence of monarchs, that is, who preceded or followed whom.

Learners/Context The learners are students of English history. Students will play the game as group homework exercises early in the term.

Rationale Memorizing the sequence of monarchs is tedious.

The game can serve as an icebreaker.

It can subtly stimulate interest in the monarchs via the picture and the caption on each card.

Rules The rules are similar to rummy, except that players may (or must, in advanced play) trade for cards, knowing only the monarch's name and not the house. They may need to check dates of reigns to see who followed whom (or in advanced play, must state the answer or forfeit the trade). For successful play, players must think about, and know if possible, the learning objectives.

As in Rummy During a turn, a player may lay down a combination, or lay off one or more cards that fit a set that was previously laid down. This may be done at the beginning or end of his or her turn.

To "go out" means that all one's cards have been laid down or laid off. The first player to go out wins. If able to use it to go out, the player does not have to discard after drawing from the stock.

Unlike Rummy The deck has 42 cards, one for each monarch since William I. The card shows the first name ("Henry IV") , house ("LANCASTER"), and years of reign (1399-1413). There is also a card for Oliver Cromwell, which is not used in combination, but for bookkeeping purposes. Not all the cards need to be used.

The "stock" is smaller than in "Rummy". It is formed by dealing as if there were an extra player. When the cards have been dealt, players' hands are evened-up by taking cards from the stock, or if only a few players have extras, adding the extras to the stock, at the dealer's discretion. The stock is kept face down.

Players try to form sequences of three or more consecutive monarchs from the same house (not three Henrys, three"II"s etc.) The dates of the reign show whether monarchs are consecutive.


Players may not draw from the discard pile ("the Block").

Trading cards between players or discarding is allowed as follows:

1. The player whose turn it is ( who is called "Cromwell"), must first announce a monarch among those held that he or she intends to "send to the Block".

2. Each other player (going clockwise) may state a monarch that he or she is willing to trade to Cromwell.

3. The Cromwell will either:

A. Accept one of these offers (if any), and the cards are traded face down, with no one being sent to the Block.

B. Draw a card from the stock, and then discard the monarch that he or she announced face up to the Block

4. Players pass the Cromwell card (clockwise), to keep track of who is to be Cromwell, (since trading may cause confusion).

When the stock is empty before anyone has "gone out", the dealer shuffles the discard pile ("Block") before turning it face down to serve as the stock.

To calculate the score, players count the number of cards laid down and the number of cards that other players have not laid down, one point per card.

Advanced Play The dealer deals all cards of the houses being used to the players. (Omit earliest or latest monarchs in history to allow an even deal.)

Trading is the only way to get cards, and laying-down (or off) the only way to get rid of them. (No stock or discard pile). If no one wants to trade with Cromwell, it becomes the next player's turn.

To complete a trade, a card is shown face up and the person trading for the card must state either the monarch's successor or predecessor. If wrong, the card is forfeited to the player who holds the correct successor (or predecessor ). This player can show the answer is wrong by showing the dates of reign. But, if the the player who was to receive the card and was wrong, has the correct successor in his or her hand, the card stays with the original holder. The test is done first by Cromwell, then by the other player in the trade.

Card Design

Deck Design The deck has 42 cards, one for each monarch since William I. The cards show the ruler's first name ("Henry IV"), house ("LANCASTER"), and years of reign (1399-1413). There is also a card for Oliver Cromwell.

Also, a picture of each monarch is desirable, and a brief caption that is interesting (such as "Is it true they call us "Bloody Mary", or "We dub thee Sir Francis Drake").

On the back of each card is a vertical list in large letters of the nine houses, in chronological order, that players see when they look at other players.

Design Process The design process for creating Cromwell:

Idea thrown out Collect sets of monarchs with the same name.

Why Players would learn nothing except how many share same name.

Idea thrown out Players build up one big sequence like a group solitaire.

Why Boring.

Idea thrown out: Drawing from discard pile allowed, as in rummy.

Why The players are more likely to avoid trading, thus not practicing knowledge, just waiting to see house shown on card face.

Idea thrown out Collect entire house before laying down.

Why It would slow down the game, and important houses would be avoided.

Other The stock is small (or even absent) to encourage trading, which requires exercising knowledge of houses for good result.

Trades are face down so other players do not know for sure which houses the traders are collecting, (gaming qualities at some expense to immediate feedback, but putting premium on knowing houses). But trades in expert play must be face up so the successor (predecessor) answer can be checked by everyone.

Discards are face up so players who failed to trade for the monarch can see whether that was wise or not.

Steps To design the game, I followed these steps:

1. I read the rules of Rummy for ideas, nomenclature.

2. I played a game of me vs. a random player. This guided me to make the important facts easy to see and the number of houses to use in play so hands are a good size.

3. I played a game of me vs. myself, finding need for a stock to give randomness, when there is no testing in a trade.

4. I played a game with a volunteer, revealing the need to clarify the rule about William and Mary. I also abandoned the plan of turning cards offered in trade to show name to everyone because of the clumsiness in doing this.