By Rob Stone
For the past eight years I have been working on a card game based on the book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.
The first prototype of the game was produced in 2004 using a new system of game mechanics called the Storybook System™. The goal of the system is to immerse the players in the original story through the characters, places, events, and objects in the book. As part of my research I have examined all of the previous Alice card games that have been released since the publication of the book.
First, I took a look at the Thomas De La Rue Co. release, The New & Diverting Game of Alice in Wonderland, which was considered by most sources to be the first Alice card game. It was first printed in 1899 and saw multiple reprints over the years. Some sites incorrectly list the publication date as 1880, however the illustrations used in the game were colorized facsimiles of the original Tenniel illustrations created by E. Gertrude Thomson who also drew the cover for The Nursery Alice in 1889. Dodgson (Carroll) and Thomson did not meet until 1879 and it wasn’t until 1885 that he asked her to illustrate a book for him. That project ended up not becoming a reality, but as stated early she did end up drawing the cover for The Nursery Alice. It was during the search for more information about the De La Rue game that I discovered an earlier game published by Selchow & Righter entitled The Game of Alice in Wonderland, which was released in 1882. As it turns out, this was the first Alice card game.
With this new revelation I began searching for more information about the Selchow & Righter game. After searching the web and contacting The Lewis Carroll Society in England and North America I could find very little information about the game. There was a short article on Indiana University’s website about the game that included some of the card images as well as an image of the box cover. But unlike the De La Rue game, I couldn’t find the rules for the game. My search finally paid off when I discovered that Kent State University had a copy of the game, with the rules, in their Special Collections. I contacted them and they agreed to scan the original rules cards and e-mail them to me.
To insure that anyone who may be looking for this information doesn’t have to follow the path I took to find it, I have added the game to the Board Game Geek database and have also created a Wikipedia article. and I am posting a transcription of the original rules here. Hope you enjoy them.
The Game Lab ERuleBook of The Game of Alice in Wonderland
This eRuleBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it as often as you like.
Title: The Game of Alice in Wonderland
Selchow & Righter, ©1882
Release Date: September 19, 2012
*** START OF THIS GAME LAB ERULEBOOK THE GAME OF ALICE IN WONDERLAND ***
Produced by Rob Stone and the Game Lab team at http://gamelab.gamequestfw.com
The Game of Alice in Wonderland
This game contains 52 cards divided into three sets.
SET. I. 16 Picture Cards numbered from 1 to 16 with a star in the corner.
SET. II. 16 Picture Cards without star, numbered 1 to 16.
SET. III. 20 number cards numbered from 1 to 20.
The two sets of picture cards form pairs by matching their numbers.
Each set takes by its number. The higher cards taking the lower ones. Star cards take each other according to their numbers, and both the other sets, whether their numbers are high or low. Plain Picture Cards take each other according to their numbers, and all number cards. Number cards take each other according to their numbers.
RULES FOR PLAYING
1. After shuffling the pack deal seven cards to each player and play in succession. When these cards have been played, deal seven more to each player and so on, until all the cards in the pack have been played.
2. The person who leads may play from any set. If the card played is a Picture Card and the next player holds its mate he must play it, the star card taking. If he does not hold it, he must play from the same set if possible, the highest number taking. If he has no Picture Card he must play a number card. For example— A plays plain Picture card No. 7, and B, if he has star card No. 7 plays it and takes the cards, but if he does not hold the star card in his hand he must play a plain Picture Card, the card of the highest number taking.
3. If two or more Picture Cards are on the table at the same time and the next player holds the mates to both or all of them he must play the mate to the first card played, the star card taking.
NOTE to rules 2 and 3. If a Picture Card is led, any player who holds its mate must play it when his turn comes.
Each pair found in the cards at the end of the game …10
The player having Alice and the Pool of tears at the end
of the game. ……………………………………20
The player having the largest number of cards at the end
of the game……………………………………..10
The winner is the player having the largest sum total.
*** END OF THIS GAME LAB ERULEBOOK THE GAME OF ALICE IN WONDERLAND ***