Friday, July 1, 2016

Nodde; a card game of strategy and luck

Nodde; a card game of strategy and luck, played during Tudor times by 2 to 4 players.
If one more person walks up to me while I am playing Cribbage with my lord and tells me it isn’t period, I am going to scream. I know that it is just out of period and based on a period game. Cribbage was invented in the early 1600s by Sir John Suckling, an English courtier, poet, gamester and gambler. He was a lousy gambler and wanted an upper hand against others. He died broke. Not that I am teaching the history of Cribbage here, but the believed exact date of its creation is the year of 1606. Cribbage of any form is 17th century; there is no evidence for its existence prior to the 1600's. Then I ask if you hand stitched your garb as a comparison to them telling me about what is and is not period. I don’t tell them that because I am more polite than that, but I would enjoy doing so. However, I do tell them that playing cards is period, so we sit here playing a game we enjoy. A love of Cribbage and searching for a game that doesn’t require gambling and is period drove me to research the game Cribbage, and I discovered that it evolved from Nodde.
 Use your own judgement about whether YOU consider Nodde as period for you, because the earliest reference to the game in the Oxford English Dictionary dates from 1589.[6] It is definitely Tudor, but some feel that is post-medieval, and therefore not period for them. However,by the SCA cutoff date, Nodde is period.
I have some friends who are teetotaling and don’t gamble and I love them and want to enjoy a game with them that doesn’t upset their sensibilities. Also, as a dyslexic, I work hard to read and add and have become extremely high functioning. Math and card games go hand and hand and help me to keep in practice, math is a use it or lose it skill, and practice is important. Now, my lord and I enjoy playing Nodde with a period deck. I like it better then Cribbage, because we can play a whole game inside a half hour instead of 2 to 3 hours with cribbage. 
My persona is, MwynwenYsginidd a free Welsh woman born at the end of Henry VII’s time. She is the wife of an Irish sailor (her mother could think no better curse to wish on an Irish man than her daughter with her redheaded temperament). She is a Brew Wife, and has a pub where she spends her days while her lord is out at sea. She enjoys games of chance and strategy that she learns from the patrons, who are mostly sailors.
I decided my fifty year goal and project was to make my SCA kit more period and round out my persona at the same time. To this end, I made a gaming set that consists of a wooden box with a sliding lid, a deck of cards, a set of dice, & a t-totum. I also learned more Tudor period games to play with these items. I am also working on a book of games to go with this set. For all these reasons, I researched and learned Nodde.
Knowledge of cribbage was helpful with redacting, learning, playing and teaching this game to my Nodde partner, Fintan MacAldin (Husband). Unlike a trick taking game, such as Tarot, or Vying style games, such as Knock 31 and Premo or modernly, Poker, Nodde has a unique scoring system and game play that combines many aspects together.
As today with games, the rules were taught by oral traditions. Today we call rules that are different from the accepted set, HOUSE RULES. It was the same then, and as such, there are regional differences. My primary source for my redaction of rules was from a book that was written by a Frenchman and published for the English.  It was published only after his death. I have also an Italian book source that has a different variant of the game. The rules are mostly the same, only the scoring from 25 and 31 in play and hand really changes between the two rules. I have seen also where Nodde Knave has been scored for the Elderhand instead of the dealer. I respect all variations of the game and have redacted from the source that would best suit my Persona.  

The Game of Nodde: as Redacted By Lady MwynwenYsginidd Called Strawberry from Willughby, Francis,A Volume of Plaies”

Object: To peg (score) 31 or greater before your opponent

Equipment used to play:deck of 52 cards, Nodde board or tally board/sheet
Noddy is played with a 52 card deck (French, Italian and English used these) A=1,2=2, piped suited cards are valued as many pips show, Knave, Queen, King, are valued at 10 each. The board is two tracks of holes that pegs for scoring will fit. (Though score could be kept on a tally) there are 30 holes for scoring for each player then one more shared hole for the winners peg. A board could have but doesn’t require to extra holes in each track for the starting pegs to rest before scoring starts. The players always moves the hindmost peg and counts from the foremost peg.

How to play:  Two to four players. If play is with four players then it is played as teams of two. Team players sit alternating with opponents. Teams peg on the same track.

The Deal:Choose a dealer however one chooses one. Starting with clockwise from the dealer one card from the top of the deck is dealt face down at a time around till the dealer; do this 3 times, so that each play has 3 cards in hand. The dealer then turns the next top card on the deck face up. This cards suit is the Trump suit. If Trump is a Knave then Dealer pegs 2 (scores). If a player or dealer has the knave of the Trump suit in hand they peg 1 (this is often referred to as his Heels in modern Cribbage). This is done first. Before any other scoring is started.

Score Hand: Then each person declares their hand points from first player to dealers left (This is the elder player) scoring goes clockwiseall the way to dealer without showing your cards.  Points are called before pegging them. The trump card is included in scoring of every player’shand. The trump card counts toward you hand while scoring.
Example: fifteen 2, fifteen 4, and pair for 6. This being to sets of cards that equal 15 and one pair being a total score of 6. Now with three cards the combination could be 6,6,9 or 10,5,5. Both will equal that point call. If the trump card is a 3 this would be of no point help to either player. Whereas a face card would be a 10 and give a player who has 10,5,5 another 10. For another fifteen, 4 making the total score pegged 10.
Play:Elder hand plays first by placing a card to table face up; they announce the value of that card. The next player to the left plays a card face up next to that card and announces the combined total of their card with the previously played card. If at any time pairs three of a kind or four of a kind, Runs, Flushes of three or more cards, combinations that equal 15, 25 or 31. Then points are pegged for that player who placed last card that cause such. Runs can be built on as can flushes making the new point value of said collection the score that shall be pegged for the player.
 Running value of played cards are not to exceed 31 of the player busts and calls ‘GO” to announce they can’t go, Play proceeds to the next player in turn till 31 is reached or last payer able to pay a playable card with in the 31 value has gone. That player pegs 1 for “GO” (this is called the latter hand)or the player who reached “31” pegs 2. The rounded ended;cards are then shuffled and passed to the next in line to deal.

Scoring, Pegging, Points:
Nodde Knave as Trump          = 2
Trump NoddeKnave in hand  = 1
2 or more cards totaling 15    = 2
3 or more cards totaling 25   = 4 (rule is regional I like it)
4 or more cards totaling 31    = 2
Pair                                         = 2
Pair Royal                               = 6
Double Pair Royal                  = 12
Run of 3                                  = 2
Run of 4                                  = 4
Run of 5                                  = 6
15 in hand or play                   = 2
(25 in hand or play                 = 1 point per card) Regional
(31 in hand                             = 4) Regional
31 in play                                = 2
Card Values Pipped cards = 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10
                   Face cards Knave = 10, Queen = 10, King = 10

Questions or indeterminable and variations and creative interpretation:
The Ace always being low, and King high. Ace is always 1 And may not be used to do wrap arounds as in  a run of A,K,Q.
Game can be adapted to use different decks as from period as long as you can declare a Knave, I suggest removing the Trumps from a Tarot deck to use it.
Whether the deck is reshuffled after each deal. Is never stated in any directions I can find that a game of two players can get 7 fair hands without shuffling the deck each deal. This does however change the Odds on hands the chances of getting Nave Nodde decrease. But game play does move faster if you skip reshuffling each set.
Who scores the 2 points on the Knave Nodde. Some score it to the Elder Player some call it for the dealer it seems to be a reginal thing.
The scoring of 25 is a regional variation of Italy as far as I can tell and players who learned to play from their rules use this variation as well as 31 made in hand.
Who Deals. Cutting the deck were low or high card deals can be done, as can the persons who deck it is can deal, whoever deal first it then passes to the left in turn.
Score is pegged by the players themselves on the board by moving the rear most peg the number of holes past the hole the forward most peg is currently in.
Strategy: try to guess what cards can make up the players score, so that you can play cards that would not help them, but might help you, and also that can force them to play cards that could help you in scoring points.

One of the few surviving sources for the rules of Noddy of from Willughby, Francis, A Volume of Plaies [7]

“atNodde they play with all the cards. They have 3 cards dealt them one by one, and then the uppermost of the deck is turned with face up. 31 is up, to make up which they reckon a pare, 2; a perryall, 6; a double perryall, 12:everie fifteene, 2 (as a five and a ten, a six and a nine, a 7 &n eight, a trea, foure&eight, & c.) In some places they reckon every twentiefive, 2(as 2 tens and a five, 3 eights & an ace, &c.); a sequens is 3, two; a sequens of foure, foure: a sequence of five, 5&c. (a sequens is 3 cards in arithmeticall progression, as Knave, Queen & King; seven, eight, & nine &c.); flush of 3, three; flush of 4, foure: flush of 5, five &c. Flush of 3 is three of the same sute, flush of 4, four of the same suite &c.; Nodde, turned up, 2; in ones hand, 1. Nodde is the Knave, which if it bee of the same suite that is turned up is reckoned but 1, but when it is turned up is 2.

          It is written in Middle English which is mostly readable my me because the spelling is phonetic and as a dyslexic this is how I read so reading it was easy, and the copy I have is an addition with translation and glossary of obsolete words. So I can see the original compare it with what the editor thinks it is and come to my own conclusions.

Glossary of terms:
Trump Suit- the suit that matches the one turned up on top of the deck at the start of the Set

Set- The round played in one deal. There are around 7 sets in a game (or match) of Nodde

Pegging- settingscore to board (moving pegs) or tally

Perryall-(pronounced Pair Royal)-3 of a kind. The score of this is based on the fact that you can make 3 distinct pairs the 3 cards which is worth 2 per pair = 6 points

Double Perryall-(pronounced DoublePair Royal)-4 of a kind The score of this is based on the fact that you can make 4 distinct pairs the 4 cards which is worth 2 per pair = 12 pionts

NoddyKnave- is the name given to the Knave (or Jack) of the suit when he is turned up at the start of play, the basic term noddy, meaning a fool or simpleton

Elder Hand-The player who sits after the dealer in the direction of play is known as eldest hand (or in two-player games as elder hand).
Pegged- sealed into hole


1.   du Coeur, Justin (= Martin Waks),Medieval and Renaissance Games (2010)
A page specifically dedicated to Really Old Games. This page is intended to cover anything and everything pertaining to games in the Medieval and Renaissance periods. All are welcome to contribute; I am particularly looking for relevant sites to point to.

2.   du Coeur, Justin:Redactor, Game Report: Noddy, and Early CribbageDate redacted: August 1996 (see above)

3.     Hanson, Marilee. Tudor Entertainment & Pastimes, February 10, 2015

Late in Henry VII’s reign, parliament passed a law prohibiting servants and apprentices from gambling (namely dicing and playing cards.) It was believed that gambling led to idleness and crime, though only in the lower classes. Of course, many noblemen wagered – and lost – large sums, including the Tudor kings. Henry VII was well-known for his love of gambling, a pastime at odds with his image as a miserly king. Today, we can look at the carefully-maintained Privy Purse Accounts to see the amounts Tudor royalty lost at cards. Though even royalty was not supposed to gamble during certain religious holidays, neither Henry VII, or his son obeyed that rule. Henry VIII was particularly bad at the game primero.”
“Card games were also popular. Of course, playing cards had only recently been invented. Compared to dicing, cards were quite new. England began to play in the 1400s (we believe this because no 14th century works mention playing cards); by Tudor times, various games had been invented. All classes played card games, the most popular were: Primero, Prime (related to Primero), Gresco, Gleke or ‘Cleke, Loadum, Noddy (played mostly by gamblers), New Cut, Putt, All Fours, Post and Pair, Ruff, and Trump. The cards themselves were full-length but the artwork was more sinister than our own (the faces of the kings and naves, particularly on French cards, are quire frightening.)”

4.   Holme, Randle, The Academy of Armory (1688)
(Vol 2, edJeayes, Roxburgh Club, 1905) (BM C.101.h.2)
Contains brief and inadequate descriptions of: Picket, Gleke, Cribbidge, Ruffe& Honors and Whisk, Bone Ace, Put and the High Game, Lanterloo, Noddy and Cribbidge-Noddy, Penneech, Post and Pair - all mostly cribbed from Cotton, though with one or two additional comments of interest, and a list of other card games.

5.   Parlett, David, Historic Card Games- Timeless classics and treasures now forgotten
Historic card games described my David Parlett

6.   Parlett, David, Oxford Dictionary of Card Games, p. 173,(1992)ISBN 0-19-869173-4
Card games described my David Parlett, He is considered an expert on card games

7.   Willughby, Francis, A Volume of Plaies (ms. ca. 1665-70) published as
Francis Willughby's Book of Games (2003)
(Plaies = games for playing, not plays for performing.) Manuscript of the Middleton Collection, Hallward Library, University of Nottingham. A redaction by Jeff Forgeng, Dorothy Johnston, and David Cram was published in October 2003 by Ashgate Press under the title Francis Willughby's Book of Games" (ISBN 1 85928 460 4).

This is my main source for both rules and understanding the language as it was written. The editors left all the originals intact and have both facsimiles and written up originals of the works as well as their interpretations of the original works.

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