MemWars Gameplay

The long-fabled Key to all Mythologies is being sought by those who call themselves the "Heirs of Causabon," a shadowy cult of Sophomore English majors from prestigious public universities, i.e. folks who seek the destruction of the world as we know it. 

There is no time to lose; you can carry nothing with you.  You must rely on and trust your wits and memory.  The race is on to find the Key ... only you have the knowledge and skills and the opportunity ... to thwart the enemies of civilization.   Secure the first segment of the key in a battle of wits against them - recall the salient facts where they matter most scoring points along the way. 

​The player with the most points at the end of the game wins the first segment of the Key to all Mythologies.


What's In The Box


  1. Each player rolls the die in turn.  The player with the highest roll goes first.  Upon a tie of the highest roll, the tying players re-roll until only 1 player has the highest roll. 

  2. The next player (second player or player to the immediate left of the first player) gets to "orient" the MemWars board, that is, determine how to place the "North" side of the board. The specific MemDeck cards are mapped to specific places on the board so this gives this player a slight advantage - viewing the board "right side up" - to offset the slight advantage (going first) of the first player.

  3. For an abbreviated game, use one, two, or three quadrants of the board, rather than the whole board.  Which quadrant(s) to play to be determined by mutual assent of the players.

  4. The MemDeck cards should always be maintained in order according to their numbering.  When the game is played using fewer than 4 quadrants, the deck should be arranged with the lowest numbered card of those being played on the top of the deck.  Place the MemDeck on the designated area of the board.

  5. Each player chooses a color and takes the corresponding collection of pieces (crystals).  Each player begins the game with 13 challenge pieces.  A successful challenge allows the player to replenish their challenge piece.  Unsuccessful challenges result in the loss of the challenge piece.


Note: for team (e.g. doubles) play, substitute "Team(s)" for "Player(s)" in the above.

Layout and Order of Addressing the Board(s)

Although there is no necessary or defined ordering of places on the board, certain conventions are observed.  The full board consists of 4 quadrants.  Each quadrant is a collection of 5 quincunxes.  A quincunx is the pattern of "5" on a standard 6-sided die (D6).  The places on a quincunx are addressed in a "Z" pattern, viz. Upper Left (1), Upper Right  (2), Center (3), Lower Left (4), Lower Right (5).




The 5 quincunxes of a quadrant are arranged in a quincunx pattern.  The quincunxes are addressed in the same "Z" pattern.  Thus places 1 - 5 are in the upper left quincunx, places 6 - 10 are in the upper right quincunx, and so on.












A full board of four quadrants is a Macunx™ (magical quincunx) so there are 4* 5 * 5 = 100  distinctive places.  As observed from above, let the top of the board be called North with the rest of the sides following the usual convention.


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Once North is defined, the numbering of the quincunxes proceeds in order as described above with "1" in the extreme northwest corner and "100" in the extreme southeast corner.

In the Gods & Heroes Edition (see above), the northwest quadrant is the Greek pantheon.  The Roman pantheon is in the northeast quadrant.  Egyptian gods and heroes reside in the southwest quadrant and the Norse in the southeast. 

The upper right place of the upper right quincunx of the Greek quadrant then is place #001 and the lower right place of the lower right quincunx of the Norse quadrant then is place #100

Memory Decks (MemDecks)

A MemDeck consists of 100 cards each of which is mapped to a specific place on the board.  The cards contain the information that must be recalled to win and occupy the places and score their points.




Each MemDeck maps a single subject matter to the MemWars board.  Some MemDecks (for example, Mythologies of Earth) may span a wide range of "subjects" (Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Norse, Asian, etc. pantheons).  Each deck will be mapped according to some reasonable structure or order determined by the subject matter expert author of the MemDeck.  The mapping will be described on one of the instruction cards in the deck.

​Note that various "levels" of information are contained on the card.  The must fundamental information is the name.  The game may be played with a "handicap" where the more experienced (or older) player is required to know more about the item than their less-experienced opponent.  (See Gameplay below)

​An abbreviated game played on fewer than 4 quadrants would be played using a partial deck of MemCards that are mapped to the agreed to quadrant(s) of the MemWars board.


Gameplay generally proceeds according to one of two modes: basic or standard depending on the players' familiarity with the subject matter of the MemDeck. 

Basic mode play assumes the players have little or no knowledge of the cards in the chosen MemDeck and proceeds without preparation.  Standard mode play happens when the players are confident they have mastered the material to some extent.  

​In multi-player (team) games, play proceeds in clockwise rotation (i.e. play passes to the left).  In two-player (team) games, play alternates between players.

Memory decks contain a depth of knowledge layered in multiple questions.  Players agree (or decide by roll of the die) what depth the facts on the MemCards must be recalled to earn the place on the board.  To earn the place all facts must be recalled correctly - no partial credit. The player iterates through all of the facts on the the back of the card to the previously agreed upon depth.

​An optional timer may be used that limits the amount of time each player has to "move.  Standard chess timers - analog or digital - are a good choice.

Basic Mode

This form of competitive play is an enjoyable way to learn the facts and the mapping to the board in a series of alternating challenges.  The first several times through the deck, the second (next) player may prompt the first (previous) player with the questions (card prompts) for depth information.

Order of Play

  1. Second (or next) player selects the next available card and shows the first (or previous) player the front of the card that has the image or description on it.

  2. First (or previous) player identifies (names) the depicted/described thing and provides all information to the agreed to depth.

  3. Results :

    • If the player is correct then the player places one of their pieces on the corresponding place and the MemCard goes in the discard pile.  

    • If the player is incorrect on any fact then the player places a challenge piece on the corresponding place and the MemCard goes in the lightening round pile

  4. Players cycle through 1 - 3 until all of the places on the board are occupied with players pieces or challenge pieces

  5. Lightening round

    • Cards from the lightening round pile are retrieved

    • Play proceeds as in the pre-lightening round.

    • Lightening rounds may be repeated a set number of times or until no more lightening round cards remain.

  6. At the end of the game each player totals his points to determine the victor.

Standard Mode

Once the facts have been mastered in basic or solitaire (study) mode, play can proceed in the standard competitive game.  The standard mode of play allows each player in turn to claim places by stating their facts anywhere on the board.  Interesting variations (see below) force a specific ordering on the players.

Order of Play
  1. Player who is on turn may claim any place on the board - and its points - by putting one of their pieces on the place and stating the fact(s) associated with the place.

  2. Challenges.  The next eligible player may challenge the player on turn by placing one of his pieces and a challenge piece on the same place.  The challenging player states what alternative fact(s) the challenger recalls are associated with the place.  A player who has lost their turn is ineligible to challenge.  The player on turn has two choices to respond to a challenge:

    1. Give up.  The player on turn may choose to give up the place to the challenger.  In this case the turn passes to the next player and the challenger retains the place and both the challenger's piece and the challenge piece remain on the place. 

      1. Challenger will receive 1 point for each of the pieces on the place. 

      2. Challenger is awarded a replacement challenge piece from the remaining pool of unallocated challenge pieces.

      3. Player who was on turn from the place on the board.

    2. Contest. Alternatively, the player on turn may choose to contest the challenge.  In this case, the challenger has a choice to make.  Challenger may choose to forsake or maintain his challenge.

      1. Forsake.  The player on turn takes the challenger's piece and retains the place and both the challenge piece and their original piece.  The challenger keeps their next turn, but is not awarded a replacement challenge piece.

      2. Maintain. The MemCard associated with the place is checked to validate who correctly recalled the information.  There are three possible results:

        1. Challenger is correct (player on turn was incorrect).  Player on turn loses the place to the challenger and the challenger gets (a) the place and its point(s) and (b) the player on turn's piece.  Play proceeds with next player.  Player on turn loses their next turn.

        2. Challenger is incorrect (player on turn was correct).  Player on turn retains the place and its point(s) and takes the challenger's piece.  The challenger loses their next turn.

        3. Both players are incorrect.Neither player gets the place and its point(s) - the challenge stone remains on the place and the board gets both player's pieces.  Challenger does not lose a turn.  Note that it is entirely possible that the board could win the game.

  3. If play results in the completion - all places occupied - of a quadrant, the points within the quadrant are totaled and whichever player has the most points in the quadrant "wins" that quadrant and places one of their crystals on the appropriate quadrant claim diamond.

    1. First quadrant won earns a bonus score of 5

    2. Second quadrant won earns a bonus score of 3

    3. Third quadrant won earns a bonus score of 2

    4. Last quadrant won earns a bonus score of 1

  4. Play proceeds to the next player.

  5. Repeat 1 - 4 until all places are occupied with pieces of players or challenge pieces.



Sometimes your recollection of the fact(s) associated with a place may be uncertain.  Because the move is forced, players should state the facts they believe to be correct with as much certainty as they can muster.  Potential challengers who may also be somewhat uncertain may be dissuaded from challenging if the player seems certain. 

If you are certain of the information then a different kind of bluff is to appear uncertain … inviting a challenge that you know you will win.

Recommendation: if you are uncertain and bluff to earn a place during competition then it would be a good idea to return to that information at a later time to master it.

  1. Count the number of points associated with places occupied by each player.  Include points for winning quadrants.

  2. Add to each player two (2) points for each opponent's piece retained by the player from successful challenges in rule 2.2

  3. Subtract from each player three (3) points for each piece retained by the board from rule 2.2.

  4. Player with the most points wins.  Sometimes, the board wins.



Hybrid Mode

A hybrid mode can be played where a more experienced player operates in standard mode and allows the less experienced player to play in basic mode.  Hybrid mode competition helps both players master the subject matter to greater depth. Before starting, players should agree on who is playing in what mode.



The "topology" of the board refers to the different point values associated with the places on the board.  The simplest topology is the "flat" board where each place has the same value (1 point) as every other place.  To play a "flat" topology, do not place any topology counters on the board. In such a configuration, there are no bonuses for specific places or facts.

Otherwise, to add strategic and tactical nuances to the game, the topology counters are placed according to a few different mapping techniques.

  • Standard topologies are provided with the game on the topology card.  In this case, the topology counters are placed with their value visible in the places indicated on the topology card.

  • Competitive placement of topology counters:

    • Players each get an equal number of counters of each value: 5, 3, 2

    • Second player goes first placing a counter, (MemWars logo side up) on a place of their choosing.  The values can be placed in any order, i.e. 5s do not need to be placed before 3s, etc.

    • Players alternate placing their topology counters until all are on the board.

    • Once the topology counters have been placed on the board, play begins. 

    • Note that players ought to remember where they placed their high value counters.  Players should place high value counters where they are certain of the information in that place and where they hope their opponents aren't.

    • Only 1 topology counter for each player may be put on any one place.That means that places may have 0, 1 or 2 topology counters.

  • When players win the place that has a topology counter on it, they will take the counter for scoring purposes.As an alternative, the topology counter can be multiplied by the points on the place.  This is usually "1" but in the case of challenges, additional crystals may be on the place.

Following a Path

  • Forward.  Arrange the MemDeck in order (e.g. 1 - 100) and address the places in that order.

  • Backwards.  Arrange the MemDeck in reverse order (e.g. 100 - 1) and address the places in that order.

  • Random.  Last player (the one who goes before the first player during normal play) shuffles the MemDeck.  The order of the cards after shuffling is the order in which the places will be addressed.


Extra Scoring Systems


Besides the use of the topology counters, different places on the board may be awarded more points.  For example, the center place of each quincunx could score 2 points and the center quincunx of each quadrant could have a mulitplier as well. 


All players must agree on the assignment of multipliers.

  • Standard multipliers include:

    • Double point for central place in each quincunx

    • Double (triple) points for central quincunx in each quadrant.

  • The subject matter expert creator of the MemDeck sets the points for each MemCard (and therefore the place on the board).  The points must be displayed on the front of the card.


Pattern Systems

Specific patterns agreed in advance by the players could award bonus points or multipliers.  This creates an incentive to address specific places to block patterns that might otherwise be attained by one's competitor or to select specific places to complete a pattern.

Standard patterns that may earn extra points:

  • Getting all places within a quincunx

  • Getting all places within a quadrant

  • Completing a minor (quadrant) diagonal

  • Completing a major (board) diagonal

Solitaire Study Mode

Just as in chess one must learn how the pieces move and to be successful in chess one must have a basic, working knowledge of the principles of openings, strategy and tactics, just so in MemWars one must spend time with the facts that will be the basis of the competition.

More than that, learning to create mnemonics – memory aides – for each of the facts will make it easier to remember the facts and give the player an opportunity to practice creating mnemonics.  Facility in creating mnemonics has been shown to improve memory.

Before the competition begins, individual players should create mnemonics to remind them of the facts to be memorized. Mnemonics work best when they are vivid images – the more unusual the better.  These memorable images are imaginatively placed on the MemWars board by physically placing one of your pieces on the place.  Note that mnemonics are idiosyncratic – what is memorable for one person may not be for anyone else.

Be sure to consult the explanatory notes for any MemDeck you use. Different decks will arrange facts on the MemWars board in different ways.  For example, a history deck might use each position on the board to represent a year, beginning in 1901 and proceeding to 2000 according to the standard numbering scheme for the Macunx™.



  1. Turn over the first card from the MemDeck and read it aloud.

  2. Formulate an image that can be used to help remember the fact.

  3. Place a crystal on the correct place on the MemWars board. This crystal represents the image being put on that place.The image represents the fact on the card.

  4. Place the card face down in the discard pile.

  5. Repeat 1 – 4 until all cards are in the discard pile.


This proceeds like basic mode but with only a single participant.


  1. Put the deck in order, if it is not already.Ensure the board is clear of crystals.

  2. Look at the first (next) card from the MemDeck.

  3. Place a crystal on the correct place on the MemWars board.Recall and say aloud the facts associated with the place.

  4. Turn over the card and check to see if you were correct.

    • If correct then put the card on the discard pile leaving your crystal on the board

    • If incorrect then put the card on the lightening round pile and replace your crystal with a challenge piece

  5. Repeat 1 – 4 until all cards are in the discard pile.

  6. Repeat 1 – 5 with the lightening round pile.


As an advanced review use the process described in the section “Follow the Path” above.

  • MemWars board arranged as a Macunx™ with 4 quadrants each consisting of 25 unique places for a total of 100 places.

  • Three sets of pieces (crystals) - one set of 100 for each of two players - plus a set of 50 challenge pieces (crystals).

  • Memory deck (MemDeck) of 100 cards covering the Greco-Roman, Egyptian, and Nordic/Germanic mythologies. Each card is numbered and mapped to a specific location on the game board. 

  • 8 extra cards: a topology card describing the topology mapping(s), scoring summary card, game play summary, pointers on memory techniques, etc.

  • Thirty-six (36) topology counters.

  • One 8-sided die (D8).

  • Game play instructions.

  • First segment of the Key to all Mythologies