Shepherds: a hand game

2 players, 15 minutes, Ages 8+


Your sheep have been scattered by a pack of hungry wolves! Round them up in the farmhouse with the help of your fellow shepherd and trusty dogs before they’re eaten.


Each player secretly, and as randomly as possible, lowers any amount of fingers on one hand. Players then lower the opposite fingers on their other hand, so that 5 fingers are raised and 5 are lowered in total. Each finger represents a wayward sheep.


Both players win this co-operative game if they succeed in lowering all of their fingers within 12 moves.

Players take turns ordering one of two possible actions.

  1. A player can name a specific finger (players should agree beforehand which finger is 1 and which finger is 10). Both players must then lower that finger. If both players cannot lower that finger the game is lost.
  2. A player can indicate a horizontal direction with their head. Both players must then, if able, lower a finger and raise a finger next to it in the specified direction. For example, a player might lower 3 and raise 2. A finger may only be able to ‘move’ to an adjacent available finger. If a player cannot move a finger in the indicated direction they do nothing.

Players should not give any additional sort of information to one another during the game. Metagame strategies established in-between games, however, are encouraged.