Just a little something I put together as a handout for a local Scottish event we attended

History. Maw was a game that became popular in 16th century Britain, and is the ancestor to a family of games associated with Ireland and Irish communities abroad. It was also played in the Scottish court, and game historian David Parlett suggests that interactions with the court of Mary, Queen of Scots may have introduced it to the English court. Its descendants include “Spoil Five” and a series of games named after the points required to win:(25, 45, 55, 110, 120). Maw is also the oldest known form of Ireland's national card game “Twenty-Five”, as well as the Canadian equivalent, “Forty-Five.” English references to Maw start appearing around 1550, and a copy of The Groom-porters Lawes at Mawe, survives from the late 1500’s describing the irregularities and penalties in the game. (The Groom Porter was a crown-appointed officer responsible for organizing games and gambling at court.). Although it does not provide a full description of the rules, the “Lawes at Mawe” confirms that essential features of Spoil Five, and Twenty-Five were already part of Maw in the 1500’s. Like Cribbage (standardized in the 1600’s), game historians believe Maw has changed little over the centuries. The basics are that five tricks are played, and the goal is either to win three of them, or to 'spoil' the distribution by preventing anyone else from winning three tricks.

Maw became the chief card game of the English court with the accession of James I (VI of Scotland) in 1603, replacing the game of Picquet, which had been in vogue during Elizabeth’s reign. Weldon'sCourt and Character of King James refers to "the king's card-holder" at Maw, provoking the author ofFacts and Speculations on the Origin and History of Playing Cards (1848) to comment: “His Majesty appears to have played at cards just as he played with affairs of State - in an indolent manner, requiring in both cases someone to hold his cards, if not to prompt him what to play.”

Maw was one of many card games that declined in England during the more puritanical Commonwealth period of the 17th century. Upon the restoration of the crown under Charles II (1660), returning royalist exiles introduced a wave of new games they had learned on the continent along with a resurgence in British gambling that lasted until the 19th century. Maw finally reappeared in English game books in the 19th century, under the name “Spoil Five.”

The game always seems to have had two versions. In one, the goal is to win the pot by taking three tricks, or to "spoil" by preventing anyone else from winning the hand. The other is a two-player (or partnership) game scoring points for each trick that is taken, and there is no spoiling.
The game uses a standard deck of cards, 4 or 5 players are recommended. Each player antes 2 or 3 coins/chips to the pot. The dealer antes a double stake. The trump suit changes each hand, but the highest trumps are always ranked:
1. Five of trumps ('Five fingers')
2. Jack of trumps
3. Ace of hearts ♥
4. Ace of trumps (if other than hearts)

Normally the cards are ranked differently depending on the suit color. But a 19th century source recorded a valid simplified version: "A very good game may be played by allowing the cards to retain their ordinary sequence. As this avoids confusion, it is more suitable for family play."
The normal ranking of the suits from high to low is:
Hearts & Diamonds: K Q [J] 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 [A]
Clubs & Spades: K Q [J] [A] 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
  -The bracketed cards only occupy those positions when they are not among the four top trumps.

The object of the game is to win three tricks, or to ensure that no one else wins more than two tricks. If no one wins three tricks the hand is said to be “spoilt”, and the pot is carried forward to the next hand.

Traditionally, there were specific rules for choosing a dealer and dealing. The first dealer was chosen by dealing cards out to the players until a player receives a Jack. That player deals the first hand, and the deal passes to the left with each new hand. Shuffle the cards, have them cut by player to the right of the dealer, and deal five cards to each player. Stack the remaining cards face down, and turn the top card determine the trump suit. If you misdeal, deal out of turn, or expose a card, you lose your turn at dealing and it passes to the next player. (Alternatively, it may be agreed that you may remain the dealer after paying a second dealer's stake into the pot.)

The player to the dealer's left starts the hand. The rules of following suit are:
•    If you can follow suit, you must do so, or play a trump.
•    If you can't follow suit, you can play any card in your hand.
•    -If trumps are led, you must follow suit if you can. The exception is if the only one you hold is one of the top three trumps (Five, Jack or Ace) and is higher than the one led. In this case, you may discard from another suit. In other words, you are never forced to play the Five, or Jack of trump unless the Five is led, nor the Ace unless the Five or Jack is led, and even then only if you hold no lower trumps.

Tricks are won by the highest card of the suit led, or by the highest trump if any are played. The winner of a trick leads off the next trick.

Jinking. If you win the first three tricks you may stop play and claim the pot. Or, you can try for “double or nothing” by trying to win all five tricks. If successful, you have 'jinked' the hand, and win the pot, plus an additional stake from each player. If not, no one wins, and the pot is carried forward to the next hand.

If someone wins the pot, players ante as before to refill the pot. If not, the pot is carried forward and everyone but the dealer antes one coin or chip. The dealer pays the original sum agreed for the deal each time, no matter whether the previous round saw the pot won or the game spoilt.

Variations, or Optional Rules

Anteing to the pot. When the pot is carried forward from the previous hand, the dealer antes one coin/chip, and the other players ante nothing.

Robbing the pack. If you are dealt the Ace of trump, you are entitled to “rob the pack” by taking the turned-up card in exchange for any unwanted card in your hand. The turned-up suit remains trump throughout the hand. The discard is placed face down at the bottom of the deck. You must do this prior to the first trick, otherwise you not only forfeit the privilege, but also forfeit any chance at winning the pot that hand, no matter how many tricks you win.

If the dealer turns up Ace of trump, he must discard one of his cards, face down, before the first card of the hand is played. In order to leave a reminder of the trump suit he doesn't take the Ace into his own hand until he is ready to use it.

Two-trick win: With more than five players it may be agreed that the pot goes to anyone who wins two tricks. Alternatively, if the game is being played by an even number of players, the players can form partnerships of two each, and if a team wins three tricks, they win the pot.

Fiving: This variation applies to the two-player game: If the non-dealer is dissatisfied with his hand, he may ask the dealer to 'five' it. If the dealer agrees, he turns the next card in the stack until one appears that differs in suit from the first. The second suit will be trump in place of the first, and it may not be changed again.

Arnold, Peter. The Book of Card Games. Christopher Helm: London, 1988.
Morehead, Albert H. The New Complete Hoyle Revised. Doubleday: NY, 1991.
Parlett, David. Oxford Guide to Card Games. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

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Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries had its humble beginnings as an idea of a few artisans and craftsmen who enjoy performing with live steel fighting. As well as a patchwork quilt tent canvas. Most had prior military experience hence the name.


Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries.


Vendertainers that brought many things to a show and are know for helping out where ever they can.

As well as being a place where the older hand made items could be found made by them and enjoyed by all.

We expanded over the years to become well known at what we do. Now we represent over 100 artisans and craftsman that are well known in their venues and some just starting out. Some of their works have been premiered in TV, stage and movies on a regular basis.

Specializing in Medieval, Goth , Stage Film, BDFSM and Practitioner.

Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries a Dept of, Ask For IT was started by artists and former military veterans, and sword fighters, representing over 100 artisans, one who made his living traveling from fair to festival vending medieval wares. The majority of his customers are re-enactors, SCAdians and the like, looking to build their kit with period clothing, feast gear, adornments, etc.

Likewise, it is typical for these history-lovers to peruse the tent (aka mobile store front) and, upon finding something that pleases the eye, ask "Is this period?"

A deceitful query!! This is not a yes or no question. One must have a damn good understanding of European history (at least) from the fall of Rome to the mid-1600's to properly answer. Taking into account, also, the culture in which the querent is dressed is vitally important. You see, though it may be well within medieval period, it would be strange to see a Viking wearing a Caftan...or is it?

After a festival's time of answering weighty questions such as these, I'd sleep like a log! Only a mad man could possibly remember the place and time for each piece of kitchen ware, weaponry, cloth, and chain within a span of 1,000 years!! Surely there must be an easier way, a place where he could post all this knowledge...

Traveling Within The World is meant to be such a place. A place for all of these artists to keep in touch and directly interact with their fellow geeks and re-enactment hobbyists, their clientele.

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