I didn’t know much about game theory or what is was, but since I was designing a game based on Pride and Prejudice (and I enjoy academic things) I thought Michael Chwe’s book “Jane Austen: Game Theorist" would be a good one to read. When I got stuck re-writing Event Cards in one of the later revisions, I went to the book and drew a lot of inspiration from various P&P scenarios that Chwe points out and how they relate to strategic thinking. Several cards were inspired by the book. Excellent read! You can read about it here.
These are some notes that I took scoring a 6-player test of “Marrying Mr. Darcy." For this test, I actually played all 6 Heroines myself. I was checking to see if I had enough cards in the deck, how many points verses cards might be played by the end of the game, and trying out one or two cards that I hadn’t played with before.
The game took a little over an hour (12:06-1:12 at the top of the page). In this game Georgiana managed to win by marrying Mr. Bingley, but what won her the game was that she built up a lot of points improving her character.
Poor Lizzy didn’t do very well. She took a risk and married Mr. Darcy when he appeared with an early surprise proposal (as happens in the book.) She accepted, but for less points than if she had waited to see if he would propose again later in the game. This decision probably cost her the game.
Lydia didn’t do very well either, though she happened to elope with Mr. Wickham, who is one of Lydia’s best Suitors. He was bribed to propose to her (thanks to a high roll of the dice), but alas, Lydia’s character was not high enough to win the game.
And dear Mary. Old Maid Mary. A bad roll of the dice with Mr. Collins and he didn’t propose. But Mary did ok as an Old Maid, adding 8 points to her score.
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In the second and final phase of “Marrying Mr. Darcy: the Game" all of the Heroines see which Suitors propose to them by rolling the dice. I had to decide how many points each Suitor was worth to each Heroine. I tried to do this based on how happy I thought these characters would actually be if they got together in the book. (There was actually some math and spreadsheets involved as well, but maybe that is for another blog.) Characters can get married for a total somewhere between +15 points (total bliss) to +5 (pretty miserable but hey, you are married). So for Georgiana:
#1. Col. Fitzwilliam: 13 points - Yeah, they’re cousins but that was pretty common back in the day. I imagine Georgiana growing up admiring the Colonel, and she’s rich, so he digs that.
#2. Mr. Wickham: 11 points - Well, as dastardly as he is, he loves her money, and she’s pretty naive. Probably would have worked well in the short term anyway.
#3. Mr. Bingley: 11 points - Mr. Darcy’s trying to get these two together, or Caroline’s hoping that is the plan anyway. I think they would have been fairly happy together since they are both so agreeable.
#4. Mr. Denny: 8 points - Mr. Denny is one of the officers in Meryton. The book doesn’t say too much about him, so I just had to make some things up in my head here. I think the unhappiness basically comes from Mr. Darcy most likely opposing the match. Also Denny seems a bit too gregarious for Georgiana.
#5. Mr. Collins - 6 points: Yeah, Mr. Collins sucks. This combo would be a disaster and it would likely never happen.
Georgiana can’t marry her brother, so that gives her one less suitor possibility from the other players. Her high dowry does help with other suitors however.
Illustration by Erik Evensen. (Georgiana’s appearance inspired by Allison Paige.)
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In designing a game around Pride and Prejudice, it was important to me to make getting married the central theme of the game. Mrs. Bennet spends the entire book trying to marry off her daughters, Lizzy and Jane’s happiness is secured by good marriages, and Lydia’s reputation is saved by marrying Wickham.
One of the things that comes across clearly in all Jane Austen’s books is that her heroines have the power to accept or turn down a proposal of marriage. They may be pressured by family, friends, or financial circumstances to say yes, but they always have the power to say no. This holds true in “Marrying Mr. Darcy" as well. In some cases, Heroines may decide that a proposal from a less desirable Suitor is worth accepting since it is not certain another proposal will be forthcoming. They can also decline and hold out hope for someone more suited to them, thus earning them more points. They may also decide to take their chances becoming an “Old Maid" but that is a very risky and uncertain move. Regardless, the Heroines always have the power of choice.
The ladies do NOT, however, have the power to decide which suitors will propose to them. They can make themselves as attractive as possible to as many suitors as they can, but ultimately a roll of the dice will determine if a Suitor proposes or not. Thus, who proposes remains outside the players control, while the power of accepting or declining remains with them- modeled on the realities of Jane Austen’s world.
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If you find this blog you are probably interested in Jane Austen or Pride and Prejudice, or maybe the Lizzie Bennet Diaries or tabletop games. I’m a huge P&P fan and for a while thought about delving into writing one of those awesome spin off books (which I still might do) but instead I got the idea for creating a game instead.
I’ve been working on this game for a year or so now, more heavily during the summers when my brian power isn’t as taken up by teaching or music or other work related things. It has undergone many revisions but is getting very close to completion. We are in the final round of play-testing and I’m anticipating that we will make only minor changes to a few of the cards or the rules.
I have always enjoyed playing games but this is my first time designing one. I thought the competitive nature of finding a eligible and wealthy husband in the Regency was rife with possibilities for a game. Also, I think a lot of people can relate to the women characters in the book and it would be fun to roll-play as them in their attempts to improve themselves and find husbands. Doesn’t everyone want to be Elizabeth Bennet? (Alas, I am much more of a Mary.)
I’ll be posting cards, rules, pictures of play tests and news about the inevitable kickstarter campaign.
Musician, conductor and game designer.