Thursday, 28 January 2016
I'm told the golden wasp game (or guêpe d'or) is notoriously difficult to understand though, allegedly, quite easy to play. Easy to play badly, that is. In complexity it is said to fall somewhere between chess and the glass bead game (which, we should remember, is a fabricated game, deliberately and tantalisingly incompletely described by author Hermann Hesse). Perhaps go or mahjong would be better comparisons, though as I find draughts a bit of a challenge I'm not in any position to say.
I presume the orientation of the inlaid gold wasps has something to do with the rules of play, and the hexagonal playing pieces suggest a need to fit them together, perhaps along the lines of the cells of two competing wasp nests. That these pieces bear six coloured dots probably implies some sort of suit-matching is involved. I have no idea how many pieces are actually needed for a game, or what variations there are in the placement of the coloured dots, as my set is almost certainly incomplete. They are also reversible, with a single, generally different symbol on the other side. Perhaps each piece can be transformed into a more powerful piece as part of the evolving game-play, or maybe it's just that there are two, completely different games that can be played on the same board? One, like draughts, for the simple-minded, and another, like chess, for real game-players.
It is a very pretty board, though.