# The Wrath Force

/**[Edit 8/14: You can ignore this post. In fact, print it out and set it on fire. I—happily—have a much, much, much simpler way of doing this now. I’ll explain on Friday.]**

I’ve written a bunch about Phill Smith’s Quinta which is a way of forcing one in five objects by counting any number given by the spectator along a row of objects. The item you land on when you reach their number is the force object.

A couple weeks ago I had two people in two different performances express an issue with how I was counting. Both people pointed out that if you’re counting back and forth along a row of objects, you should count the end positions twice as you go back and forth. In other words, you* shouldn’t *count

1 2 3 4 5 4 3 2 1 2 3 4 5

you should count

1 2 3 4 5 5 4 3 2 1 1 2 3 4 5 and so on.

That way every object has an equal probability of being landed on (assuming the number is truly random).

Now, this is true, but it’s not something I believe anyone has mentioned before. Perhaps some other people thought it but didn’t bother to say anything. I don’t know.

Both of these people who mentioned it had an analytical sort of mind. So I thought it might be good to have an alternative to Quinta for when I’m performing for those sorts of people.

This isn’t better than Quinta, by any means. But for some purposes you might prefer it.

**The Wrath Force**

Here’s how it works.

Five objets are placed in a circular formation. You have something to place as a marker of some sort on one of the objects.

For this example, let’s say you have five playing cards.

You say, “In a moment I’m going to ask you to name a number from 1-10. [Or you can have them roll two invisible dice, or real dice.] Feel free to change your mind a couple of times. We’ll move the marker around the circle one card at a time until we get to your number. Whatever card the marker ends up on will be eliminated. We’ll continue to count to your number until all but one card has been eliminated. Whatever’s left will be your card.”

This sounds like a pretty thorough description of what’s going to happen. But it leaves enough things unstated that we will take advantage of to force the object regardless of what number is named.

These things are:

Whether we’ll count clockwise

**(CLOCKWISE)**or counter-clockwise**(COUNTER).**Whether we’ll count the card the marker is on as 1

**(ON ONE)**or count the first card it moves to as 1**(NEXT ONE).**Whether eliminated cards are still counted

**(IN)**or skipped (**OUT).**

Again, let’s imagine we’re using cards. You ask the spectator to shuffle the five cards and place them in a circle shape. You need to know where your force card is. So maybe it’s marked, or nicked in some way, or the cards might be face up. Regardless, you place the marker one card *clockwise* from the force object. Like this:

The X-Card here is the force card. That thing on the card next to it is a game piece, which makes some sense, but you can use a coin or any other object you want.

To be clear, you set down the marker *before* you tell them what’s going to happen and *before *they name their number. You don’t want them to think you set it down in a specific place to make things work out with whatever number they name. This feels pretty fair.

If I’m performing for more than one person I like to have them each roll an imaginary die in their head. Then we add the two digits together. If I’m doing it for one person, I might have them roll a real die and imagine rolling a second one.

Here’s how to get to the force card with any number 1 thru 12. I’ll GIF a couple so you get the general idea.

**If they say ONE**

This is a stupid thing to say. But if they do, the rules are:

**CLOCKWISE****ON ONE****IN***OR*OUT (DOESN’T MATTER)

**If they say TWO**

**CLOCKWISE****ON ONE****IN**

**If they say THREE**

**CLOCKWISE****ON ONE****IN**

**If they say FOUR**

**COUNTER****NEXT ONE****OUT**

**If they say FIVE**

**COUNTER****ON ONE****OUT**

**If they say SIX**

**CLOCKWISE****ON ONE****IN**

**If they say SEVEN**

**CLOCKWISE****NEXT ONE****OUT**

**If they say EIGHT**

**COUNTER****NEXT ONE****OUT**

**If they say NINE**

**CLOCKWISE****ON ONE****IN**

**If they say TEN**

**CLOCKWISE****NEXT ONE****OUT**

**If they say ELEVEN**

**CLOCKWISE****ON ONE****OUT**

**If they say TWELVE**

**CLOCKWISE****ON ONE****IN**

NOTES

1. The question here is “How do you memorize this?” I don’t have a clue. That’s for you to figure out. I was able to memorize it as I worked out all the possible combinations when I was coming up with it. It’s less difficult than you might think to memorize. Half of the options (1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 12) are all the same (CLOCKWISE, ON ONE, IN). 4 and 8 are the same. 7 and 10 are the same

2. You could create a crib with right and left arrows for clockwise/counter clockwise, 1 and 2 for if you start on the first card or the next, and I or O if the cards stay in the count or are out of the count.

So if they say the number “Eleven,” you’d look at your crib and see this: **→1O M ** That is: Clockwise, On One, Out.

3. Could you figure out more numbers beyond 12? Yeah, probably. But remember, this isn’t like Quinta where we’re using a number to *select* an item. We’re using a number to *eliminate *items. So you wouldn’t really want to count to, like, 45 *four* times. There are some routines where it’s theatrically more interesting to knock out options one at a time, in which case this would be a good force. Otherwise Quinta would be the way to go. That’s much simpler.

4. For the numbers where the items remain IN and counted, you need some way to mark them as eliminated. In the GIF above, the cards are turned over. If you’re not using playing cards you have to find some other way to show the objects as eliminated. For example, if you’re using drawings or words, you can use a pen as a marker and cross them out. Or if you’re using physical objects you can knock them on their side to show they’ve been eliminated.

5. Similarly, when eliminated items are OUT and not counted, you don’t need to push them out of the circle like he does in the GIF. You can just do something to show they’re eliminated and skip over them going forward.

6. After we count to and eliminate the first object, I like to pause and point out how if they had chosen another number a different object would have gotten knocked out. And I’ll point to a couple other possibilities. “If you had said three, for example, this cards would be gone. If you had said five, this card would be gone.” And one of those “casual” examples is the force object.

7. Look to last Friday’s mailbag post for a strong use of this as a force from a full deck. You’d have the force card palmed out. Have the rest of the deck shuffled and cut into many piles. Piles are eliminated by the spectator until you’re down to one. Palm in the force card on top of that pile and add or remove cards until you have five (again, see Friday’s post). Then have these remaing cards shuffled and placed in a circle and take it from there. This is probably a little more logical than using Quinta in that circumstance because you are continually eliminating down to one card, rather than eliminating down to five and then *selecting* one of those five.