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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > December 2018 (#25) > Play it Smart

Play it Smart

Whether it’s Shakespeare, Eliot or Pratchett, games can be found in books, plays and poems of every kind – and they’re included for more than just fun
Some works of literature include well-known games, while others invent their own

Games have a long literary history. Chaucer writes about “tables,” a forerunner of backgammon, in The Canterbury Tales (1387). Backgammon appears again in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost (1594-96), as does chess in his later play The Tempest (1610- 11). Alexander Pope dramatises the Spanish trick-taking game Ombre in his mock-heroic poem The Rape of the Lock (1712). Helen Huntingdon and Walter Hargrave’s game of chess, a tense match between two “keen gamesters,” is one of the most memorable scenes in Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848). In the 20th century, T. S. Eliot reprises the title of Thomas Middleton’s satirical play A Game of Chess (1624) as the title of the second section of his great poem The Waste Land (1922) where, once again, games offer a way of conceptualising love, lust and power. In these examples games rarely feature as subjects in and off themselves, rather acting as metaphors for Machiavellian game-playing, conflict and status.

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About Tabletop Gaming

Getting into the festive mood for this month’s magazine, the Tabletop Gaming team and you very readers have put together a list of the 12 Plays of Christmas – over a dozen modern classics that you should play with family and friends during the holidays. We’ve even set them all to a song, if you’re in the mood for a gaming carol. As the nights grow long, we gather around a candle with Great Western Trail and Mombasa creator Alexander Pfister to take a look at his new game, Blackout: Hong Kong. Set in a powerless city plunged into chaos, it promises to be something unexpected from the accomplished designer. There might not be a new Star Wars hitting cinema screens, but the Force remains strong with the galaxy far, far away. We travel back to the beginnings of the saga and look at the history of Star Wars in roleplaying games, discovering how the tabletop redefined and saved the sci-fi space opera. In a very different sci-fi universe, Warhammer 40,000 creator Rick Priestley takes us back to the genesis of the grimdark galaxy and considers how it’s shaped the state of sci-fi on the tabletop more than three decades later. Most people know Matt Edmondson as a BBC Radio 1 DJ and TV presenter, but he’s also been behind some of the funniest party games in recent years. As he follows up the ridiculous rhyming of Obama Llama with Santa Banter, he tells us about getting into games and what comes next. Plus, we’ve got the definitive verdict on this winter’s biggest games, including reviews of KeyForge: Call of the Archons, Betrayal Legacy, Discover: Lands Unknown, Arkham Horror: Third Edition, Warhammer Underworlds: Nightvault, Legend of the Five Rings RPG, Reef and more!