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Wibold's Ludus Regularis, a 10th Century Board Game - Play the Game!

Richard Pulskamp (Xavier University) and Daniel Otero (Xavier University)

The applet below, created by John Ensley, simulates play of Wilbold's Ludus Regularis (Canonical Game), a game of dice designed in 10th century Flanders by Wibold, Archdeacon of Noyon and later bishop of Cambrai and Arras. The game is played with four dice: three cubes, on which Latin vowels take the place of the dots we typically find on dice today; and a tetrahedron, on which are written 16 consonants, four to a side. Players alternate casting the dice, and with each roll attempt to collect one of 56 Virtues among those still available. The list of Virtues is provided at the bottom of the screen; each combination of the (exposed top) faces of the cubes corresponds to a unique one of the virtues (as in Table 1), and to acquire that virtue, the vowels appearing on the cubes must include all those in the name of the virtue. In addition, at least one of the consonants appearing on the (unseen bottom) face of the tetrahedron must be included in the name of the virtue as well.

A press of the ROLL button simulates a roll of the dice, corresponding to a player's turn, and the applet checks to see which virtue, if any, is acquired by the current player. The number of the roll is updated in the List of Virtues when that virtue is awarded to the player who has just rolled. If no virtue is awarded, the reason for the failure is given. To the right of the dice the history of the current game is updated displayed in graphical form: time (expressed as the number of dice rolls) on the horizontal axis, and the number of virtues acquired by the players on the vertical. Below this a progress bar also tallies the number of virtues distributed.

Clicking the AUTO button simulates the play of an entire game, and the RESET button allows play to start over.

Ready to play?

We repeat Table 1, Wibold's Table of Virtues, giving the dice roll required to acquire each virtue and with our English translation of virtues added, for easy reference.

Table 1. Wibold's Table of Virtues, with English translation of virtues added

Richard Pulskamp (Xavier University) and Daniel Otero (Xavier University), "Wibold's Ludus Regularis, a 10th Century Board Game - Play the Game!," Convergence (July 2014)