40-60 min

1 playing field
5 clan boards 
10 choice tokens
1 honor token
9 English army cards
2 Edward’s army cards
29 bagpipe cards
6 dagger cards
64 unit tokens
80 gold tokens
1 defeat marker

The game Swords and Bagpipes is set in medieval Scotland during the period of the First War of Scottish Independence from England.

Remember the movie Braveheart with Mel Gibson?
Freedom-loving patriots, corrupt aristocrats and the cruelty of the English king. It's all there in our game and it’s what its participants will experience.

The game can be played with 3-5 players, each of whom will lead one of the five clans: Macleod’s, Donald’s, Comyn’s, Mackay’s, Beuken’s. Anyone 12 years and older can lead his own clan. Players will immerse themselves not simply in campaigns and battles, but in the internecine intrigues. Even in the face of a common enemy the barons cannot forget about rivalry: even allying with the enemy, attracted by their gold. However this alone is not enough to defend a clan’s independence: in order to fully win, one must earn enough gold to lead the country after gaining freedom, and on the way to this "noble" goal everything goes. What treason? Simple expediency!
Each player must make a choice: be loyal to the common goal and earn a small but guaranteed reward, or support the enemy in hopes of landing a bigger jackpot. As a rule, treachery brings lots of money – but only if a maximum of two players goes down this road. Besides, if the clan leaders betray their clansmen too often and the English beat the Scotts, the winner won’t be the richest player but the player who switched sides the least.

The game consists of seven rounds.  Each round players experience another English invasion. At the start of the round an event card is opened: this will determine the force of the English Army, potential patriotic and treachery rewards and also special conditions of the current round. Once everyone is familiar with the information, players take turns hiring units and sending them to battle. Each rival then secretly decides which side he will support: England or Scotland. The choice tokens are flipped simultaneously. Each side sums up their strengths (the traitors join the English army). The winner in the battle is decided. The turncoats receive their reward in two ways:
1. Clans siding with England receive a reward that diminishes as more clans become treacherous and a Dagger Card symbolizing their treachery.
2.  A victory for the freedom fighters of Scotland grants monetary rewards, while a defeat mobilizes another unit for the next battle. Additionally battles may also bring a Bagpipe Card which gives a special ability.

The game ends when all seven Event Cards have been played or when Scotland faces its fourth defeat. In the first case, the richest player wins the game. In the second case money mean nothing. Instead, the most loyal national hero of Scotland is the player with the least Dagger count is declared the winner. Since Scotland can be defeated but not broken its clans will need to rally around the most loyal winner of the game if England wins.

Basic game or expansion Basic game
Genre Family, Strategy, Detective
Sub-genre Historic, Medieval, Bluffing
Playing time 20 — 45
Suggested age 14 — 99
Number of players 2 — 6
Manufacturer Rightgames
Shipping weight 0.895 kg


The working title of the game is “In My Defens,” the first words of the motto shown on the Scottish Royal Coat of Arms: In my defens God me defend. The original title, “For Scotland!” was the name familiar to Russian boardgamers when it won the 2013 Competition of Original Board Game Development in Russia.
Historical Note
In the year 1290 Scotland faced a dynasty crisis. After the royal family line was cut short, the great feudal lords could not agree on which of them should rule the country. The English monarch Edward I was invited as an arbitrator, who initially proposed to resolve the dispute in favor of himself and insisted on his supremacy over Scotland, even after the coronation of John I. When the freedom-loving northerners rebelled, Edward decided to suppress his "rebellious vassals" by force, which he did quite well, earning the nickname "The Hammer of the Scots". However, the Scots regained their independence after his death but that war was only the beginning of the long history of love and hate between the Lion and the Unicorn.

Did You Know?

The famous checkered tartan pattern hadn’t emerged in Scotland until the 16th century, and the first mention of bagpipes is dated to year 1547. Is it possible today to even imagine an ancient Scott without these lovely anachronisms?


If you have any questions about game rules feel free to ask us at BoardGameGeek.