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Kniggits - A Simple Medieval Combat Game

(Rock, Paper, Scissors meets Sword and Shield) by Steve Baker


  1. THE FIELD OF BATTLE: A large, flat tabletop - at least 3 feet square.
  2. THE KNIGGITS: (Pronounced 'Cuh-nig-its' - like in Monty Python and the Holy Grail) Some number of cheap toy plastic Knights - at least a dozen of them. The kind you can pick up a bag of in your local "Everything's A Dollar" store will do fine. If you want to play without them, use drawings of Knights on paper squares, little Lego figures - anything. If you have figures that are less than about an inch tall, then you might want to halve all of the distances mentioned below and play on a smaller table - if you have really big model knights then you might want to double all of the distances and play on the floor or something.
  3. SKILL TOKENS: For two players, you need at least 40 counters in each of three different colours in about equal amounts. The more, the better. I like to use the smallest Lego bricks because you can stack them up next to the figure who has those skills - but you can use pennies, dimes and nickels, or plastic counters or poker chips - or even just write down what skills each kniggit has on a piece of paper. The "Everything's A Dollar" store is a good place to rummage for this stuff.
    • Use one colour of token for 'Movement Tokens'
    • Use a second colour for 'Attack Tokens'
    • Use the third colour for 'Defense Tokens'
  4. OBSTACLES: Some suitable obstacles - things that can stand in for walls, trees, battlements, etc. Build some obstacles from Lego! Pile up paperback books or CD cases. Half a dozen large obstacles or a couple of dozen small ones is fine.
  5. A RULER: Marked in inches. All movement (and everything else in the game) is measured to the center of the figure's head - so it doesn't matter what pose the figure is in or what size base it's mounted on.

Dispute Resolution

Whenever you need to decide who goes first - or resolve an argument, a traditional best-of-three Rock-Paper-Scissors (RPS) game decides. The official rules of RPS can be found at the World RPS Society web site.


First, the players should agree on a points total for each army in the game. 50 points is a good number to start with.

If you have more than two players, you can each play as a separate army or you can team up - it doesn't matter how many players there are on each army so long as each army has the same number of points.

  1. POSITION THE OBSTACLES: Place the obstacles on the table somewhere. Obstacles should either be touching each other - or at least two inches apart.
  2. BUY YOUR ARMIES: Each person takes skill tokens in any mix of colours (cost 1 point each) and kniggits (cost 5 points each) up to the points total for their army. In a 50 point game, you could have one Kniggit with 45 skill points all to himself - or six kniggits with most of them having just three skill points.
  3. SHARE THE SKILLS: Now, each team shares out the skill tokens amongst their kniggits. Every kniggit MUST end up with at least one token of each colour in order to start the game. If a team doesn't have enough tokens to do that then whichever kniggits don't have at least one of each are considered to have run away in terror before the battle even starts.
  4. POSITION THE KNIGGITS: The players place their Kniggits (along with each kniggit's skill tokens) onto the battlefield anywhere within six inches of their side of the table.
  5. ASK WHO IS LEFT-HANDED: Each player should be asked whether he or she is left handed - and must answer truthfully.


Players take it in turns to play - each turn consists of three phases:


When it is your turn, you can move each Kniggit two inches for every Movement skill token he has left - up to a maximum of 12 inches. The Kniggit can turn in any direction at any time in the move - so you can (for example) turn around, make part of your move, then turn again, then take the rest of the distance.

If your kniggit comes within two inches of an enemy kniggit then you are "IN COMBAT" and you must stop and end that kniggits turn right there. If you started the turn IN COMBAT with an enemy then you may turn around and move directly away from him. If there is more than one enemy in combat with your guy then you can only move in a direction that takes you further from both of them. Sometimes you may be surrounded several enemies or pinned against a wall and find yourself unable to move without coming closer to one of the enemies you are in combat with.

However, no matter what, you can always turn around.

Once you have finished moving all of your guys, any that are within two inches of an enemy are "IN COMBAT". If there is more than one enemy within two inches then you must make it clear which one you are turning towards.


Once you've finished moving ALL of your kniggits, your opponent may turn any of his kniggits that are in combat so that each faces one of their attackers. It must be clear which enemy each is facing.


The person who'se turn it is now gets to fight with each of their figures who is in combat and facing a particular enemy. Kniggits can only attack in the direction they are facing - but they can defend against attacks from any direction.

Hence, there are two situations. Either both kniggits are attacking (because they are both facing one-another) - or one is attacking and the other can only defend because he's facing the wrong way.

Attacking and defending is done similarly to rock-paper-scissors - except you use BOTH hands.

Your left hand is your shield - your right is your sword (mace, spear or whatever). Players who are left-handed have their sword in their left hand and their shield in their right.

If you are attacking, you use BOTH sword and shield. If you are only defending then you do nothing with your sword hand and play only with your shield hand.

So, just like Rock-Paper-Scissors, you go "ONE, TWO" - then on "THREE", you put out BOTH hands with your fingers put a certain way:

Sword moves:

  • With your thumb stuck straight up, you are 'attacking high' and trying to knock down his attack skills.
  • With your pointing finger pointing at the other player, you are 'attacking middle' and trying to knock down his defense skills.
  • With your pinky pointing at the other player, you are 'attacking low' and trying to knock down his movement skills.

Shield moves:

The same three hand gestures made with the shield hand signify 'defending high', 'defending middle' or 'defending low'.

The Results.

If you attack at the same height as the other player defends - then he/she successfully defended against your attack and nothing happens.

If you attack somewhere that's not defended then the enemy kniggit loses a skill token of the appropriate kind (attack, defense or move).

  • Kniggits with no attack tokens left cannot attack.
  • Kniggits with no defense tokens left cannot defend.
  • Kniggits with no movement tokens left can only crawl at two inches per turn.
  • Kniggits that have only got tokens of one colour left get scared and run (or crawl) away towards their side of the board as fast as they can. From this point on, they can only move or (perhaps) defend. They may not attack - even if they have attack tokens left.


If you mess up your hand gesture - or change it after the count of 3 or mess up in any way like that, then the hand (or hands) that messed up have no effect - either no attack happens or you completely fail to defend.


Unless both players agreed on some specific objective at the start of the game, you win when all of your opponent's kniggits are leaving the game.

That's it for the basic rules. Start playing!

Optional/Advanced Rules

After you've played Kniggits using the basic rules a couple of times, you can add in some advanced rules to give the game more variety.


Kniggits with 5 or more movement skills are considered to be "on horseback". They can move more than twelve inches per turn if they have enough movement skill tokens.

In combat, if their opponents are also on horseback then they both fight as usual. However, if their opponent is not on horseback then that opponent is not allowed to "ATTACK HIGH" (because he can't reach!).

Once the horseman's movement skills drop below 5, he dismounts to fight on foot and his horse is removed from the game.

Magic Swords

Kniggits with 5 or more attack skills are considered to have a magic sword and can attack twice on THEIR turn - either against the same opponent or against different ones - even if he isn't facing the right way. If you attack the same opponent twice, then he only gets to attack back on the first occasion unless he too has a magic sword.

Once your attack skills drop below 5, your sword loses it's magical powers.

Double Defense

If you have defense skills of 5 or more, you can choose to defend with both your sword and your shield. When you do this, you obviously cannot use your sword to attack on that turn - even if you have some kind of double attack capability.

Signify that you wish to do this by keeping both hands together (touching) when you do your combat move.

Once your defense skills drop below 5, you lose this ability.

Two Swords

A Kniggit who is given no defensive skills and 5 or more attack tokens at the start of the game fights with two swords. (A kniggit who merely loses his defensive tokens during the game is NOT allowed to do this - you have to have no defensive tokens at the start of the game.) The overrides the basic rule of characters having to have one of each token of each kind. You cannot have both two swords AND the magic sword bonus.

Although this kniggit can never defend against attacks, he gets to attack with both hands - possibly removing two tokens from his opponent if both hands strike in areas with no defense.


A kniggit can have a bow and arrows or a crossbow instead of a sword and shield. In this case, instead of defense skills, the defense skill tokens indicate how far he can shoot - two inches for each token. When he shoots at an opponent, he does a normal attack hand gesture and the opponent gets a normal defense. There must be a clear line between the attacker's head and the defenders' head in order to be able to shoot. You can't shoot through obstacles or other kniggits. Archers are defenseless in hand-to-hand combat.

HOWEVER: You may not move and shoot on the same turn - it takes the whole turn to load the weapon.

Magic Potions

Magic potions can be placed in the game for Kniggits to pick up. Each one confers either five extra attack tokens, five extra defense tokens or five extra movement tokens.

Scenarios and Objectives

Once you've mastered the game, there are lots of possible variations. Capture-the-flag, Rescue-the-princess, Jousting, Quest for the Holy Grail, etc. Notice that princesses are typically bound hand and foot and have to be carried. Carrying anything (princess, flag, grail, etc) takes up one hand - so you have to decide which hand is being used for this - so you'll either be unable to fight or unable to defend depending on which hand you use. You can't fire a bow or a crossbow with just one hand.

See Also