Garry's games: historical free games for all the family
Bloody Mary title

A free family boardgame about the last Tudors

For four or more players. As recommended by America's PBS network.

by Garry Stevens PhD

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Download Bloody Mary: Further Intrigue in the Tudor Court for free!

Background to the game

Good King Hal is dead. The realm looks to his nine-year old son, Edward–sixth of that name. Already it is clear that he is his father's boy; with the incandescent Tudor intelligence, the earthy Tudor instinct for survival, and the Tudor steely resolve. His sisters Mary and Elizabeth will soon be married off of course–footnotes to history. Edward will live long, and complete the Protestant reforms his own late mother – Jane Seymour – had dreamt of; all under the tutelage of his uncles: Edward Seymour, newly created Lord Protector and Duke of Somerset; and Thomas Seymour, whom some think plots to have the throne for himself.

Good Hal had begun the journey, but only haltingly. Henry vacillated. Edward and his uncles see a clearer path. England shall be a Godly Realm, a Protestant Realm. Nor shall it be a tyranny. No: in his last years Henry had become a capricious and turbulent monarch. This is a new time: Edward and the Seymours shall make a kingdom where all subjects may voice their grievances. This shall be the Golden Age of Good King Edward, and the Golden Age of England.

But do the Fates have other things in mind? What if Edward should die before his time? His eldest sister, the obvious heir to the throne, is as Catholic as her mother, Catherine of Aragon. Surely England could not return to Rome? Unthinkable!

Perhaps Edward should secure his Godly Realm through a Protestant succession, perhaps to his closest Protestant relatives, the Greys. But is this lawful? What did Henry VIII's will say? And what of the ancient rules of succession… and the claims of his younger Protestant sister, Elizabeth?

What the game is about

In this game you get to relive the politics of Tudor England as you strive to secure your candidate for the Throne... and keep your own head.

The game starts at the coronation of Henry VIII's son Edward. It follows the history of Tudor England for a further 25 years. You must plot to place your favoured candidate on the throne. You play the part of a faction of courtiers trying to preserve your power and influence. The game is solidly based in history (well, as solidly as I can make it). It is meant to be educational as well as entertaining.

The game board

Game board

Who might be interested?

If you liked my earlier game Henry VIII: Intrigue in the Tudor Court, you will like Bloody Mary: Further Intrigue in the Tudor Court. It has quite different victory objectives, and a different card mix (not to mention a whole different cast of characters).

Designer's notes: after Henry VIII

A Court card

A Court card.

Bloody Mary: Further Intrigue in the Tudor Court is a continuation of the Henry VIII: Intrigue in the Tudor Court game. However, you do not need the earlier game to play Bloody Mary.

I learned a lot from doing Henry VIII, and incorporated this experience into the Bloody Mary game. The board is a lot smaller, tighter and better designed. The minimum number of players is four not five. Some of the mechanisms have been simplified and improved. Unlike Henry VIII, the object of the game is to control the sovereign. I think the game plays faster and more hectically than Henry VIII.

I hope you enjoy it.

Bonus file: a Tudor family tree

I have included in the downloadable zip file what I think is a quite natty family tree of Henry VII's descendants, in PDF format. It shows you who is who in history and in the game, and just why I have included the Tudor heirs that I have. It explains why such oddities as Mary Douglas are there!