Deborah Yaffe

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Another option for Janeite game night

By Deborah Yaffe, Aug 7 2017 01:00PM

Perhaps it is because game-playing is so common in Jane Austen’s novels – think Lydia Bennet’s lottery tickets, Mary Crawford’s spirited round of speculation, or Mr. Woodhouse’s backgammon board – that every year seems to bring a new Janeite game.


As blog readers will recall, I’ve greatly enjoyed some of the earlier Janeite entertainments, and so I’m happy to learn that we’ll soon have an addition to the collection: The Austen-themed board game Polite Society has reached its Kickstarter goal, and its Australian creators expect to deliver their final product by March.


Unlike some previous Austen games, in which players compete for glory in the marriage market, Polite Society concerns the less irrevocable, but no less cutthroat, competition for high-status dinner guests. Still, the general idea is familiar: Instead of potential spouses, game cards represent fifty-two potential guests -- heroes, heroines and secondary characters, both attractive (Jane Fairfax) and repellant (John Thorpe), from all six novels.


Under rules that recall the marriage-linked Austen games, inviting these characters to dine requires forking over varying numbers of cards representing Wealth, Wit, Beauty, and Heart. Once acquired, prestigious characters generate rewards that, in turn, make it easier to invite still more prestigious guests.


The creators of Polite Society are a pair of sisters who, in addition to their day jobs, run a company called Veldi Games. So although it’s not clear from the Kickstarter description, I assume that, once launched, Polite Society will be available for sale to the general public, not just to those who backed the original appeal.


But if you want to get in on the ground floor before the Kickstarter campaign ends on August 24, it costs only $5 Australian (about $4 US) to get a print-and-play electronic version, available now, and only $39 Australian (about $31 US) to get the boxed set next year. Which leaves you plenty of time to come up with a menu sumptuous enough to tempt Mr. Darcy.


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