Asalto - Guild of St. Mortimer

Asalto - Guild of St. Mortimer
Asalto or Assault is a variation of the popular Fox games, where one player is a fox
and the other is a geese or sheep. The game has its origins in Spain and England as
well as France, where it is known as Assault.
Game Play
The Game:
The board is similar to the Fox and Geese board, except that the nine points are
designated as fortresses, and are separate from each other. The board is crossed
shaped and contains 33 holes connected by straight and diagonal lines. Nine of the
holes located in one of the cross's arms are the fortress.
The Pieces:
There are 24 pieces of one color, which will be foot soldiers and 2 pieces of another
color, which are officers or sharpshooters.
To Move: Officers may move in any direction, one space at a time along the lines.
Foot soldiers can only move forward, diagonally or sideways. They cannot move
backwards. While they cannot jump the officers, they must try to trap them in the
battlefield or the fortress to win.
Capturing: An officer can capture by jumping over the solider if the next available
space is vacant.
To Win: The foot soldiers win by either occupying every point of the fortress or by
trapping the soldiers inside the fortress or on the battlefield. The officers, on the
other hand, try to capture the soldiers on the battlefield or the fortress. In order to
win they must capture at least 15 soldiers.
The board is initially arranged so that the top nine holes in one arm of the cross
contains the two officers or sharp shooters. They may be arranged anywhere within
their fortress. The 24 soldiers are placed outside the fortress. The sharp shooter or
officers go first in this game. They are allowed to move in any direction along the
lines one space at a time. They can capture by jumping over the soldier into a
vacant space. Soldiers are allowed to jump and capture as many times as they can
on their turn as long as they are able to land in a vacant space after each capture.
Play then alternates to the soldier, who are only allowed to move forward and
diagonally. On their move, soldiers should attempt to trap officers inside the fortress
or battlefield. They are not allowed to jump. A variation of game involves huffled
where the officer is removed from the board if he does not capture a soldier when
he is able to do so.
Huffled: An officer is removed from the game if he does not capture a soldier if the
move is available.
Diagonals: Variations of the game can be played without the diagonals.
Movement: Alter the rules so that the officers are not allowed to move backwards.
Number of Officers: Change the number of officers from two to three in the fortress.
Alternate Names:
Spain and England: Asalto
France: Assaut
England: Officers and Men
Germany: Festungsspiel, Belagerungs-spiel
Denmark: Belerjringspel
Sweden: Belagringsspel, Fastningsspel
Iceland: Beleiringsspil
Robert Liao, Michael Chen (C Authors) and Eudean Sun (Tcl Author)
Murray, H.J.R. A History of Board Games Other Than Chess.New York: Oxford
University Press, 1951, p. 104-105.
Provenzo, Asterie Baker and Eugene F. Provenzo Jr. Favorite Board Games You Can
Make. New York: Dover, 1981, p. 174-175.
Shove Groat
Shove Groat is a gambling game Vikings played on long sea-voyages to pass the
time. The traditional playing pieces were groats, large heavy coins, hence the name.
An American quarter is the lightest coin you should consider using. American halfdollars, "Suzies", Canadian "Loonies", and two dollar coins work better. If you don't
want to rummage through your pockets or run to the bank every time you want to
play the game, buy a package of large heavy washers and keep them with your
game board.
The game board itself is divided into horizontal sections, much like a football field
without yardage numbers. Players sit where the end zones would be. The number of
sections is arbitrary. Ten is a convenient number. The sections themselves should be
uniform in width, however the width chosen is also arbitrary. The wider the width,
the easier the game; the narrower, the harder. I have found that making the
sections one and a quarter times as wide as the coins being used works best. The
length of each section is the width of the game board from player left to player
right. This length is also arbitrary and doesn't affect play. The board is illustrated
Players take turns placing a set number of coins in the section closest to them with
the trailing edge extending off the board. Using either thumb and middle finger, or
the heel of the palm, players strike their coins (or shove their groats ;-) into the
different sections of the game board. To score, a coin must lie completely within a
section without touching a line. Subsequent coins may knock a coin into or out of
scoring position.
There are two variations of the game. In the first variation, each section is given a
point value based on it's distance from the player. A coin landing in that section,
scores that point value. A coin leaving the board incurs a negative penalty score.
First player to reach a predetermined score wins.
In the second version, a player must score exactly twice in every section. Additional
coins in the same section score for the opponent if they still need points in that
section. Subsequent scores in that section are ignored. There is no penalty for a coin
leaving the board. First player to score twice in every section wins.
by Dagonell the Juggler
Tablero de Jesus
Tablero is a 15th century Spanish gambling game. Players use their own money as
playing pieces and play until they can no longer afford it. Friendlier games use
thirty wooden markers and distribute them equally between the two players.
The board is seven rows by seven columns, similar to a chess board, but with one
fewer row and column. The board is completely undifferentiated, but may be
decorated as lavishly as the owner wishes. Two standard dice are used.
Players roll the die to determine who goes first. High roller places one coin in each
of the two right-most columns in his home row. Low roller places one coin in each of
the remaining columns in his own home row and goes first. The object of the game
is to form rows of coins in the center of the board in order to remove them.
Low Roller
Lo's home row | O | O | O | O | O |
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| O | O | Hi's home row
High Roller
On his turn, each player throws the dice and moves any two coins either forward or
backward in their own columns the number of spaces indicated by the dice. Each die
must control a separate coin. If, for example, the dice were to come up 6 & 3, you
couldn't move one coin five spaces and the other four, nor could you move one coin
six spaces forward and three back.
When a player succeeds in getting two or more coins in ADJACENT columns on the
same row, other than either home row, he may either remove them from the board
and end his turn, or continue to throw the dice hoping to make the row longer and
capture more coins.
VARIATION: If a player succeeds in lining up all seven coins, he not only collects
those coins, but an eighth coin from his opponent as well.
If a player throws 7, 11 or 12, he must immediately surrender the dice to his
opponent without removing any coins from the board. Mathematically, the
probability of this occurring is exactly 1 chance in 4. If a player throws a roll which
cannot be made, for example, a six with no coins on either home row, he must also
surrender the dice. I have also seen the game played where a player must surrender
the dice if he fails to make a row of at least two coins. This is NOT correct and
makes the game more difficult with smaller winnings.
When a player removes coins from the board, his turn ends and he hands the dice
to his opponent. His opponent must fill the empty columns by placing his own coins
in those columns in his own home row. If a player is forced to surrender the dice
when there is a row of coins on the board, his opponent may take the coins and
return the dice without ever making a throw. When a player no longer has enough
coins to fill empty columns, he has lost the game.
ADULT VARIATION: In An Tir, they play a drinker's version of this game called
Tablero de Gucci. The game is played with seven shot glasses and a can of beer per
player instead of coins. The highest ranking female present rolls the dice to
determine "The Queen's Number", a custom that began when the Queen of An Tir
claimed a number for her own use. The game is played as normally, but instead of
removing the shot glass from the board, you drink it dry and place the empty glass
on your opponent's home row for him to refill from his can of beer.
When the Queen's number comes up, the roller may take any shotglass on the
board, drink it and place it on his opponent's home row before taking his turn.
Skilled players will choose this glass strategically. When all seven shotglasses have
been lined up, spectators cry "SET 'EM UP AND KNOCK 'EM DOWN!" as the player
collects his winnings. When a player can no longer refill a shotglass because his can
of beer is empty, he has lost. Children in An Tir have been seen playing this game
with bottles of pop or packages of M&M's. WARNING: DO NOT play this game
with anything stronger than beer or wine cooler. A skilled player can down at least
two shots per turn and come down with alcohol poisoning by the end of the game.
By Dagonell the Juggler
(House of Fortune)
Gluckshaus is Old High German for "House of Fortune" and is a gambling game with
dice. The board is illustrated below. Usually, these wooden boards were expensive
and elaborately carved and painted works of art. Each square of the board
contained a scene, and the rest of the board surrounding the squares was heavily
| The King |
The Lucky Pig
Players took turns throwing a pair of dice. On a roll of a three, five, six, eight, nine,
ten or eleven, the player took a coin if one was on the square belonging to that
number, or placed one there if it was empty.
Seven is The Wedding square. If a player rolled a seven, he placed a coin on the
square because one always brings a gift to a wedding. Two is The Lucky Pig. If a
player rolled a two, he collected all the coins on the board except for The Wedding.
Twelve is The King. If a player rolled a twelve, he collected all the coins on the
board including The Wedding, because nothing can be denied to The King. There is
no square for rolling a four. During the Renaissance, if a player rolled a four, he paid
a coin to the owner of the board. In a friendly game, players should agree in
advance whether a player rolling a four should lose his turn, or roll again.
By Dragonell the Juggler
Nyout (Horses)
Nyout is a Korean game dating back to the 3rd century. The Spanish Conquistadors
recorded a virtually identical game being played by the Mayans when they arrived in
the New World. The existence of the same game in two widely separated areas has
been offered as part of the evidence for a theory that there was an Asiatic visit to
the Western hemisphere back in the 8th century. The theory remains unproven.
The game may be played by two, three, or four players. Two players would have
four markers or horses each. Three players would have three horses. Four players
would have two horses each and pair up as teams alternating turns. A player may
move his partner's horse on his turn. The game board is a race track of twenty
spaces arranged in a circle. An additional nine spaces form a cross in the center of
the board.
A o o
X o o C
Players throw four lots to determine their move. Think of it as flipping four coins.
One to four "heads" allows one horse to move the same number of spots. Four
"tails" entitles the player to move his horse five spaces. Additionally, on a move of
four or five, the player is allowed an extra throw. If two or more of a player's (or
team's) horses finish a turn on the same space, they may be "hitched" together and
move as a single horse for the remainder of their journey around the board. If a
horse finishes his turn on a space occupied by an opponent's horse, the opponent's
horse must start over. Hitched horses must re-enter as single pieces.
Horses enter at the space marked S and proceed counterclockwise around the board
and leave at the space marked F. If a horse ends a turn on one of the three spots
where the circle intersects the cross, marked A, B & C in the diagram, on his next
turn he must proceed down the arm of the cross to the center, marked X and from
there to finish. From A & B, this is a shortcut. From C, it's a longer route. The first
player or team to get all of their horses around the track is the winner.
by Dagonell the Juggler
Hazard and Craps
Sir William of Tyre claimed that he and his fellow knights invented the game of
Hazard during the crusades under Charlemagne. They did it to pass the time while
laying siege to the castle of Hazarth in 1125. This would imply that the game is
named after the castle. The Encyclopedia Britannica however, states that game
takes its name from the Arabic words 'al zar', which means simply, 'the dice'.
Geoffrey Chaucer makes frequent mention of the game in his Canterbury Tales as
an analogy for life, with runs of both good and bad luck.
Hoyle's Book of Games says that Hazard is simply another name for the game Craps.
This is incorrect. Craps is a simplification of Hazard that was created by the French
in the late sixteenth century. The name comes from the English slang term for a roll
of two or three, 'craps' which comes from the French slang term 'krabs'.
The Hazard game in the Dungeon and Dragon manuals is actually a casino game
called Grand Hazard. Modern gambling casinos invented the game to separate
tourists from their money. Serious gamblers won't play it because the payoff odds
are ludicrous.
TO PLAY CRAPS: The dice roller, who is called the 'shooter' accepts bets from the
players betting against him, who are called the 'faders'. If the first roll is 7 or 11,
this is a 'natural' and the shooter wins immediately and may play again. If the first
roll is 2, 3, ('craps') or 12, ('boxcars') the shooter loses his bet but retains control of
the dice and may play again. Any other roll is the shooter's 'point'. Different point
totals have different odds and the faders may make additional bets with the shooter
or among themselves.
The shooter now tries to re-roll his point without rolling a seven first. If he rolls a
seven, he loses both his bet and control of the dice. If he rolls or 'makes' his point,
he wins his bet and may play again.
TO PLAY HAZARD: The shooter first tries to roll a 'main point' or 'faders point', a
total between 5 and 9 inclusively. Any other point total is re-rolled. After a main
point has been established, the shooter then tries to roll a 'chance point' or 'shooters
point', a total between 4 and 10 inclusively, which is not the main point.
However, it is possible for the shooter to win or lose before establishing a chance
point. If he rolls the main point again, he wins. If he rolls a 2 or 3, he loses his bet
but retains control of the dice and may play again. If he rolls a 12 and the main
point is even (6 , 8) he wins. If he rolls a 12 and the main point is odd (5, 7, 9) he
loses. If he rolls an 11 and the main point is 7, he wins. If he rolls an 11 and the
main point isn't 7, he loses. If that sounds rather complex, you're not alone. My wife
refers to this game as 'Medieval Fizzbin'. ;-) The table may be simpler:
Main Point
Wins on
6, 12
7, 11
8, 12
Loses on
11, 12
11, 12
2, 3
Once the chance point has been established, no other roll matters except the main
point and the chance point. The shooter continues rolling until he rolls the chance
point and wins, or the main point and loses.
By Dragonell the Juggler
The Game of Ur
Gaming boards found in the royal tombs in the ruins of the ancient city of Ur in
Mesopotamia, (present day Iraq) are probably the oldest board games in the world.
They date from about 3000 BC. Ur was a thriving city in the third millenium BC and
is mentioned in the Bible as the birthplace of Abraham. Excavations were conducted
from 1922 to 1934 by an archelogical team led by Sir Leonard Wooley and
sponsored by the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania.
Five boards were found. They were of the same type though there were variations
in the decoration of the individual boards. The simplest was a wooden board with
discs of shell with red or blue centers. The most elaborate board was completely
incrusted with shell plaques inlaid with lapis lazuli and red limestone divided by lapis
lazuli strips. Many of the boards had squares and pieces engraved with drawings of
The boards were all hollow and inside each were seven black and seven white
playing pieces and six tetrahedral (four triangular sides) dice with two of their four
points dotted with an inlay. Three dice were made of white ivory, three were made
of lapis lazuli. Unfortunately, no rules were found. We can only make conjectures at
how to play the game.
The board is drawn below. For dice, use 6D4s from a Dungeons and Dragons game.
For a pick-up game, use anything that gives you 50-50 results; flipped coins, odds
vs. evens on a regular die, etc. If you're making your own set, use blank cubes and
draw `jewels' on half the sides.
Suggested Rules :
Each player starts with a set of three dice and all seven pieces off the board.
Determine which player goes first. Use dice if necessary.
On each turn, the player throws all three of his dice.
Possible Throws :
3 Jewels Up - Move 5 squares or enter 1 piece; Roll again.
2 Jewels Up - Move 1 square and roll again.
1 Jewel Up - Turn ends.
0 Jewels Up - Move 4 squares and roll again.
The direction of movement is as shown. If a player's piece lands by exact count on a
rosette (marked square) he is allowed to start a new piece on the first square.
A player may have any number of pieces on the board but only one piece may
occupy a square at a time.
The central file is a war zone. When an opponent's piece is landed on, that piece is
taken off the board and must start over.
An exact throw is needed to bear a piece off the board. The first person to bear off
all seven pieces wins.
Remember that these are suggested rules and the actual rules were never found.
Feel free to make your own variations.
UR - Royal Game of Sumer by S & R Games. Selchow & Righter Co. 1977.
Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations by R. C. Bell. Dover Publications,
Inc. NY 1979
by Dagonell the Juggler
and Shahira bint Al-Sammad
Salaamallah the Corpulent, a Laurel for board games, says "Rithmomachy was
invented to keep philosophers off the streets at night." He may be right. The game
was invented in the 11th century and played throughout Europe during the Middle
Ages, but it was only played by those who considered themselves to be well learned.
Several versions of the rules have survived. Whether the variations are due to the
game evolving over time, or extrapolation by the writers of the manuscripts is
unknown. What follows is a simplified compilation of the various sets of rules. For a
complete set of all the rules, see Salaamallah's book, Medieval Games.
The board is eight squares wide and either fourteen or sixteen squares long. The
easiest way to create a Rithmomachy board is to simply place two chess boards
edge to edge. The initial board set up is given in the diagram below. The pieces are
either squares (S), triangles (T), or circles (C), painted white on one side and black
on the other. A captured piece may be turned over and used by the capturing side.
Additionally, each piece has a numerical value which comes into play in the later
stages of the game.
Each player also has one pyramid (P), a vertical stack of playing pieces. White has a
pyramid worth 91 points: (36S, 25S, 16T, 9T, 4C, 1C). Black has a pyramid worth
190 points: (64S, 49S, 36T, 25T, 16C).
Players alternate turns moving one piece per turn. White goes first. Circle pieces
move exactly one square in any direction, horizontally, vertically or diagonally.
Triangle pieces move exactly two squares horizontally, vertically or diagonally.
Square pieces move exactly three squares horizontally, vertically or diagonally.
Pyramids move the same way as their bottom-most piece moves. Pieces may not
jump over other pieces, either their own or their opponents. The path must be clear
for the entire length of their move. They may not shorten their move, but must
move the entire distance they are allowed. Pieces may not turn in mid-move but
must continue in the direction they started.
There are four methods of capturing your opponent's pieces: assault, ambush, sally
and siege. In assault, a piece may capture and replace any piece of equal value
occupying a square it can reach by a legal move. In ambush, any higher numbered
piece adjacent to lower numbered enemy pieces whose sum or product were equal
to it could be captured. For example, 45S could be captured by either 30T, 12T, &
3C (sum) or 5C & 9C (product). In sally, a piece of value n which was x squares
away from an enemy piece of value (x * n) captured and replaced it. The distance
must include both of the occupied squares. For example, 8C can capture 16T by
being adjacent to it (8 * 2 = 16). In siege, a piece can be captured if it is
surrounded on all sides by enemy pieces which are not in danger of being captured
themselves. A captured piece may be placed on the capturing side's own back row
as one of their own pieces in place of a move.
Pyramids attack and capture as either their total value or the value of their bases.
Pyramids may be captured by their total value, the value of their bases, one layer at
a time, or the sum of several layers at a time.
There are eight possible ways to win, five lesser victories and three greater victories.
The first lesser victory, called De Corpore: capture the number of pieces which the
players have agreed to beforehand. The second lesser victory, De Bonis: capture
enough pieces whose value meets or exceeds a numerical total which the players
have agreed to beforehand. The third lesser victory, De Lite: capture pieces with a
set number of digits which the players have agreed to beforehand. For example, if
the players agree to the digits 1, 2, & 3, White may win by capturing 12T & 3C, or
120S & 36T, or 225S & 361S, etc. The fourth lesser victory, De Honore: capture
enough pieces to meet or exceed both a total number of pieces and a sum of their
values which the players have agreed to beforehand. The fifth lesser victory, Honore
Liteque: the sum of the digits of the captured pieces must meet or exceed a
numerical total which the players have agreed to beforehand.
The greater victories, or triumphs, require lining up at least three pieces in a
arithmetical progression (e.g. 2C, 3C, & 4C), a geometrical progression (e.g. 4C, 8C,
& 16C) or a harmonic progression, either late period (a/b = b/c) or early period (a/b
= c/d). A triumph cannot occur until the opponent's entire pyramid has been
captured. It doesn't matter if the opponent manages to re-capture any of the
component pieces, because those re-captured men are now played as separate
pieces and may not be re-assembled back into the pyramid. The Great Triumph:
three pieces lined up to form one of the progressions. The Greater Triumph: four
pieces lined up to form two of the progressions simultaneously. The Greatest
Triumph: four pieces lined up on the opponent's side of the board to form all three
progressions simultaneously.
by Dagonell the Juggler
(Extended Rules)
Article translated and adapted by Daniel U. Thibault ([email protected])
(Based on an article by Michel Boutin in Jeux & Stratégie #26, April-May 1984)
Historical Background
This complex chess-like game appeared in the western world around the year 1000.
The game knew a great burst of popularity in the 15th century, because of some
rules changes. When chess also saw its rules change (particularly when the Queen
started to move in its modern fashion instead of its previous King-like motion),
Rithmomachia started fading rapidly, at the close of the 16th century. The rules
given here are those established in 1556 by Claude de Boissière, a Frenchman.
Rithmomachia is Latin for Battle of Numbers; the game is at once a battle of pawns
and a battle of numbers. To play, one must be able to do a lot of quick mental
arithmetic, as we shall see. This is why this game was, throughout its period, very
elitist, being played mostly by high ranking churchmen and nobles. The game is
flawed, in that the two sides are not equal (though you'll probably find as many
experts swearing the white pieces are the better ones as you'll find opting for the
black pieces!).
A 16 by 8 chessboard
57 pawns, 29 black ones and 28 white ones, broken down as follows:
White Pieces
o 8 round pieces, of values
 3 / 5 / 7 / 9 / 9 / 25 / 49 / 81
 (odd numbers 3 to 9 and their squares)
o 8 triangular pieces, of values
 12 / 30 / 56 / 90 / 16 / 36 / 64 / 100
 (3*4 / 5*6 / 7*8 / 9*10 and the squares of 4 / 6 / 8 / 10)
o 7 square pieces, of values
 28 / 66 / 120 / [190] / 49 / 121 / 225 / 361
 (4*7 / 6*11 / 8*15 / [10*19] and the squares of 7 / 11 / 15 /
the preceding 190 point pieces are broken down into a pyramid of:
o round 16 (4*4)
o triangular 25 (5*5)
o triangular 36 (6*6)
o square 49 (7*7)
o square 64 (8*8)
Black Pieces
 8 round pieces, of values
 2 / 4 / 6 / 8 / 4 / 16 / 36 / 64
(even numbers 2 to 8 and their squares)
o 8 triangular pieces, of values
 6 / 20 / 42 / 72 / 9 / 25 / 49 / 81
 (2*3 / 4*5 / 6*7 / 8*9 and the squares of 3 / 5 / 7 / 9)
o 7 square pieces, of values
 15 / 45 / 153 / 25 / 81 / 169 / 289
 (3*5 / 5*9 / [7*13] / 9*17 and the squares of 5 / 9 / 13 / 17)
 (note that 3+2=5 / 5+4=9 / 7+6=13 / 9+8=17)
o The preceding 91 piece is broken down into a pyramid of:
 round 1 (1*1)
 round 4 (2*2)
 triangular 9 (3*3)
 triangular 16 (4*4)
 square 25 (5*5)
 square 36 (6*6)
A pyramid is made up of stacked pieces. The pawns destined to be stacked are of
progressively smaller sizes, the larger value at the bottom, the smaller on top.
As one can see, the game is a numerologist's dream! This went very well with the
mystic of numbers that pervaded the Middle Ages. On with the rules!
All the pawns are reversible, being white on one side and black on the other. This is
because they can be captured and flipped as the game progresses.
Black Side
White Side
8 more rows here
Victory Conditions
Both players must agree, when starting a game of Rithmomachia, on which victory
conditions to use. There are seven common victories and seven proper victories.
The Common Victories are:
The Victory of Body
To take a set number of pawns
The Victory of Assets
To take a set total value in pawns
The Victory of Proceeds
To take a set number of digits
The Victory of Body and Assets
The Victory of Body and Proceeds
The Victory of Assets and Proceeds
The Victory of Body, Assets, and Proceeds
The Proper Victories are broken down into:
Mediocre Victories,
Great Victories, and
Excellent Victory
In all Proper Victories, the object is to take the opposing pyramid, and then position
three or four pawns, in line or square formation, in the opponent's half of the board,
so as to form an arithmetic, geometric, or harmonic progression.
In an Arithmetic Progression, the differences between successive numbers are given
by a single value (called the ratio of the progression). For example: 2 - 5 - 8 - 11 is
an Arithmetic Progression of ratio 3.
In a Geometric Progression, the ratios between successive numbers are given by a
single value (called the ratio of the progression). For example: 3 - 12 - 48 is a
Geometric Progression of ratio 4.
In an Harmonic Progression, the ratio of two successive differences is equal to the
ratio of the end numbers. If the Progression is a - b - c, we have c/a = (c-b)/(b-a).
This number is the progression's ratio. For example: 4 - 6 - 12 is an Harmonic
Progression of ratio 3, as 12/4 = 3 and (12-6)/(6-4) = 6/2 = 3.
The Mediocre Victories are achieved by obtaining one of the progressions.
The Great Victories are achieved by obtaining two progressions at once.
The Excellent Victory is achieved by obtaining all three progressions at once.
This is a Mediocre Victory by Arithmetic Progression (of ratio 20)
This is a Great Victory by Geometric Progression (4 - 12 - 36, ratio 3) and Harmonic
Progression (4 - 6 - 12)
This is an Excellent Victory: Arithmetic (6 - 9 - 12, ratio 3) Geometric (4 - 6 - 9,
ratio 3/2) and Harmonic (4 - 6 - 12, ratio 3)
Note that in all these examples, the victories were achieved with captured enemy
There are two types of moves: Regular and Irregular. In a Regular move, the piece
slides from its starting point to its end point; the intervening squares must be
unobstructed. In an Irregular move, the piece jumps from its starting point to its
end point, regardless of obstacles.
Round piece movement template (* Regular, + Irregular)
Triangular piece movement template (* Regular, + Irregular)
Square piece movement template (* Regular, + Irregular)
Pyramids can move like round, triangular, or square pieces as long as they still have
a representative of that shape in their stack.
Captures must precede or follow a Regular move. When the capture precedes the
move, the capturing pawn takes the captured pawn's place. When the capture
follows the move, the captured pawn's place is left empty. It is possible to achieve
several captures at once, both before and after the move! When capturing several
pawns before a move, the capturing pawn chooses which captured pawn's place to
take. Captures are NOT mandatory. Captured pawns are flipped and may be reintroduced on the board, on any free square of the player's board edge. Putting a
captured pawn down replaces a move. It is possible to capture in this way.
There are six ways to capture:
The Encounter
The capturing pawn comes within one Regular move of the victim.
B1: Round white D3: Square black
If white moves his piece to C2, he could capture black.
The Ambush
When a number is equal to the sum, difference, product, or ratio of two opposing
pawns, it can be taken on condition that both capturing pawns be within a Regular
move of the victim.
B1, A4: Round black C2: Triangular white
If black moves his 4 to B3, he can take the 12 as 8+4=12 and both his pieces are
within a Regular move of the white piece.
The Assault
A number encounters an opposing pawn in the same row, column, or diagonal so
that the number of intervening squares is equal to their product or ratio. The
intervening squares must be unoccupied.
D1: Triangular white B3: Round black A4: Triangular black
By moving his 2 out of the way (to A2 or C4), black captures white as 12/6=2, the
number of intervening squares.
The Power
When a number is equal to one of the powers or roots of an opposing pawn, the
latter can be taken on condition that the capturing pawn be within a Regular move
of the victim.
B1: Round white B3: Square black
If the 3 is moved to A2 or C2, it can take 81 as 3 is the fourth root of 81.
The Progression
When a number can be made part of an Arithmetic, Geometric, or Harmonic
progression with at least two opposing pawns, it can be taken on condition that both
capturing pawns be within a Regular move of the victim.
A1: Round white D1: Square black C3: Triangular black
If black moves his 20 to A3, he can take the 25 as 15-20-25 is an Arithmetic
progression (of ratio 5) and both his 15 and 20 will be within a Regular move of the
The Imprisonment
If a pawn is so surrounded that it cannot accomplish a Regular move, it can be
B2: Triangular white D4: Triangular black
If black moves his 72 to B4, he imprisons the white 30 as all of his possible Regular
moves will then be blocked by black or white pawns.
Pyramids can be taken apart one component pawn at a time, or all at once. A
pyramid's value is given, at all times, by the sum of the values of its component
pieces. The pyramid can itself capture, using either its total value, or the value of
any one of its component pieces. The only restriction is that it cannot dislocate itself
when moving.
The Game Cabinet - [email protected] - Ken Tidwell
Alquerque is believed to have originated as an Arabic game. It is thought to have
spread to Europe when the Moors invaded Spain.
At the start of the game, each player places their twelve playing pieces on the board
as shown in the diagram. A piece may be moved from one point to any adjacent
point along an empty line, forwards, diagonally or sideways, but not backwards. If
the adjacent point is occupied by an opponent's piece, you may jump over and
capture said piece, providing there is an empty point immediately beyond it. If,
having jumped and captured a piece, you land adjacent to another of your
opponent's pieces with an empty point beyond it, you may jump again and capture
a second piece. Any number of pieces may be captured in this manner in any one
If a piece can make a capture, that piece must do so, otherwise it is considered to
be "huffed", and can be removed from the board by one's opponent. This is, if a
piece that cannot make a capture is moved instead of one that can make a capture,
the one that could capture but didn't is removed from the board.
However, if two or more pieces can make a capture on the same move, the pieces
that did not capture are not removed from the board, provided a capture was made.
If no capture was made, all pieces that could have captured are considered "huffed"
and are removed from the board.
The game ends when one player loses all their pieces, cannot move a piece, or has
all their pieces along the back row. The player with the most pieces left wins.
Diagrams on the Following Page
Alquerque board
Alquerque board set up (ones side in
green, one side in red)
compiled by Modar Neznanich
Fox & Geese
Fox and Geese belongs to the group of games known collectively as Tafl in which
there are battles fought out by two forces of unequal power. Tafl games appear to
have originated in Northern Europe. Mention is made of one as far back as AD 1300
in the Icelandic 'Grettis Saga'. Most likely they date back to BC.
One player elects to be the fox and the other the geese. The geese (the thirteen
counters of one color) should be placed so as to fill up all the points on one side of
the board, as shown in the diagram. The fox (the one counter of the other color)
can be placed on any vacant point remaining. The fox moves first. On their turn,
each side may move one counter. Both fox and geese can move along a line,
forwards, backwards, or sideways, to the next contiguous point.
The fox may move along a line or jump over a goose to an empty point, capturing
the goose and removing it from the board. Two or more geese may be captured by
the fox in one turn, providing that he is able to jump to an empty point after each
one. The fox wins if he depletes the gaggle of geese to a number that makes it
impossible for them to trap him.
The geese cannot jump over the fox or capture the fox. They must try to mob him
and hem him into a corner making it impossible for him to move. The geese win if
they succeed in immobilizing the fox.
Fox and Geese board
Board set up (Geese in green, Fox in red)
compiled by Modar Neznanich
The Game of Merels or
Nine Men's Morris
1. Introduction
Merels (also spelt Merreles), or Nine Men's Morris, is a simple board game for two
players. It was popular in the 14th century, but earlier versions with fewer than nine
pieces have been found dating back to 1400BC.
As with other medieval games, many different rules have evolved over the years.
Players are advised to agree on the rules by which they will play before starting. I
will indicate which rules are commonly used within the Far Isles, but would not wish
to discourage players from trying alternatives.
2. The Board and Pieces
The game is played on a square board, as illustrated. There are
24 points (marked with dots in the illustration), and pieces may
move between them only along the marked lines. Only one piece
may be placed on any point.
The players start with nine pieces, with a different colour for each
player. Unlike other games, the board is initially empty. The players place their
pieces on the board alternately, as described below.
3. Playing the Game
3.1. Opening Play
The players must decide between them who is to start. The players take turns in
placing one piece at a time on any unoccupied point on the board.
Each player attempts to form mills. A mill consists of a straight
row of three of the player's own pieces along a marked line.
Whenever a player succeeds in making a mill, they may capture
(or pound) an opponent's piece. Once captured, pieces cannot be
brought back into play.
Most rules forbid the capture of a piece that is within a mill either entirely
(references 1, 2, 3), or unless there are no other pieces available (references 4, 5,
6, 7). Generally, the latter rule is used within the Far Isles.
3.2. The Mid-Game
Once both players have placed all of their pieces on the board, they take turns in
moving. Pieces may move only to adjacent points along the marked lines.
Players must move if they can (even if it would be to their disadvantage). A player
who cannot move loses the game.
Again, the players are trying to form mills, and may capture an opponent's piece
whenever one is made.
Rules vary as to how mills may be broken and re-formed. Most allow a piece to
move out of a mill, then move back the following go. This provides a clear
advantage to the first player who can make a mill.
A variation on this (reference 8) is to require that a minimum number of other
moves (not necessarily with the same piece) must be played before a piece may be
moved back into the same mill. This could be one, two or three moves. Common
practice in the Far Isles is to require that one intervening move must be made. No
such restriction applies if a mill is being formed along a different line, or using
different pieces.
Finally, some rules require that the new mill must be along a different line
(references 6, 8).
3.3 The End-Game
Some versions of the game apply a special rule for movement when a player is
reduced to three pieces (references 1, 4, 5). This rule is not commonly played within
the Far Isles.
Under this rule, once a player is reduced to three pieces, they are no longer limited
to moving only to adjacent points. A piece may instead be moved to any unoccupied
point on the board.
Once a player has been reduced to two pieces, they are unable to capture any more
of their opponent's pieces, and therefore that player loses the game.
4. Variations on a Theme
Although the nine-man version of the game is the most popular, many alternatives
The first two boards illustrated here can be played with three pieces each (reference
2). Alternatively, the second board can be used with four pieces (reference 3).
The last three illustrations show respectively the boards for five, seven and twelve
men's morris (reference 8).
In all cases, a mill is made by forming a row of three pieces along a marked line.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------5. References
(1) A. R. Taylor, The Guinness Book of Traditional Pub Games, Guinness Publishing,
1992, ISBN 0-85112-530-1.
(2) R. C. Bell, Board Games from Many Civilisations, Volume 1, Dover Publications
Inc, ISBN 0-486-23855-5.
(3) Rules supplied with Cloister Games from Past Times.
(4) Edmund Hoyle, revised by L. H. Dawson, The Complete Hoyle's Games,
Wordsworth Reference, ISBN 1-85326-316-8.
(5) D. Pritchard, The Family Book of Games, Brockhampton Press, ISBN 1-86019021-9.
(6) Rules supplied with Nine Men's Morris from John Millman Traditional Toys &
(7) "Alair of the Bloody Fountain", Three Popular Board Games in Indoor Games, or
How to While Away a Siege, The Compleat Anachronist #4, Society for Creative
(8) P. J. Smith, Period Pastimes, The Compleat Anachronist #71, Society for
Creative Anachronism.
(9) R. C. Bell, Board Games from Many Civilisations, Volume 2, Dover Publications
Inc, ISBN 0-486-23855-5.
© 1996, 1997 Simon Barker
The game of Wari dates back to ancient times, and was known throughout Africa
(especially popular in Egypt) and Asia. Most likely it was brought back to the
European area by sailors exploring that area. Many places market it today as
Mancala, but this is really incorrect. Mancala is a type of game. A counting game to
be exact. Wari is just one type of mancala game. (The same way that 5-card draw is
just one type of Poker game.)
The game is played with a game board and 48 markers or playing pieces. The
pieces are usually small colored stones or shells. They may be of any color, or of
several colors, as color does not affect ply in this game.
The game board for Wari generally consists of a piece of wood that has hollowedout spaces in it. They form the following pattern:
The six hollowed-out circular spaces on each side are called cups. The larger oval
spaces on the ends are called reservoirs.
Players sit across from each other with a set of cups facing them.
The game is set up by placing 4 markers in each of the 12 cups.
To play, the players determine who will go first. That player picks up the markers in
one of the cups on his side. He then distributes the markers by placing one (and
only one) in the other cups, going widdershins (counter-clockwise) in a circle around
the board. Markers are NOT placed in the reservoirs. (They are for holding captured
pieces only.) Should there be enough markers that a complete circle of the board is
made, the cup just emptied is skipped over.
If the last marker put down goes into a cup on the opponent's side, and there ends
with a total of two or three markers in that cup, then the markers in that cup are
captured, and go into the reservoir at the player's right. Also, if the next cup
clockwise from the captured cup has only two or three markers in it, that cup is
likewise captured and the markers taken. This continues so long as the cup is
clockwise to the last captured cup, has only two or three markers in it AND is an
opponent's cup.
However, a player cannot capture all of an opponent's remaining pieces in a move,
leaving him nothing to play. In capturing cups, if there is only one opponent cup left
with markers in it, you cannot capture it. Also, you cannot leave your opponent with
all empty cups if you have a move that would put some pieces in one or more of his
When one side side of the board is all empty, play is ended. This must happen by a
playing having to move his last markers onto his opponent's side. Play can also end
if both players agree to quit. At the end of play each player takes any markers left
on his side of the board and adds them to his reservoir.
The winner is the person with the most markers in his reservoir.
Like many games, over the years alternate rules develop. In the case of Wari the
alternate rules (used together) are common in the sets available today in the U.S.
They are:
1. When making a move and placing markers one at a time in cups, a marker IS
placed in the reservoirs.
2. If a complete circle of the board is made, a marker IS placed back in the cup just
3. To capture an opponent's cup, the last marker put down must be in your own cup
which is opposite an opponent's cup with just two markers in it.
4. To capture a cup it must have only two markers (not 2 OR 3).
5. You do NOT keep capturing opponent cups to the clockwise, if you capture one
cup. Although you DO get an additional move, but it has to use the markers in the
cup clockwise to one you just placed the last marker into.
6. You CAN capture all of an opponent's cups. You do not have to leave him markers
to play.
compiled by Modar Neznanich
The origin of this game is disputed. According to Franck Frederick, in the June 6,
1992 issue of Parabola magazine, the game is of probable German in origin and
dates to 1471. Ellie Ide, author of the book Sheltered Rose Book of Medieval Games
claims it is Florentine in invention and was noted there prior to 1587, and that in
1597, it reached England. Jeffrey A. DeLuca, author of Medieval Games states that
the game was invented in the 16th century for Francesco de Medici (a Florentine)
who sent a copy to Phillip II of Spain. From there, it spread throughout Europe. R.C.
Bell, noted game expert and author of Board and Table Games from Many
Civilizations, comments that it was a spiral game that reached its height in
popularity during the 1700s (particularly in France).
Whatever the true origin, the game is an easy game to learn, yet is immensely fun
for all ages. The game is played on a spiral course of 63 spaces or points,
consecutively numbered. Certain special-marked spaces add either a bonus or a
penalty to a player's move. Any number of players can play. Each player needs a
uniquely marked, colored or shaped playing piece. Each player places their single
playing piece on the starting area. Play is commenced by each player, in turn,
advancing his piece by the throw of two cubic (6-sided) dice to space number 63,
where it was borne off. The first player borne off, wins.
To bear (or be borne) off, the playing piece has to land on 63 exactly. If the number
thrown is higher than necessary, the surplus is counted backwards from the number
63 space. (If the backward move happens to land the piece on a special-marked
point that "advanced" movement, the piece continues moving on backwards,
instead. At the player's next turn, he could resume his forward movement.)
Most of the special-marked points have a goose on them, hence the name of the
game. Landing on a goose allows the player to move his piece the same amount of
the roll again, and continue doing such until he no longer landed on a goose. (i.e. If
you rolled a 6 and by moving 6 spaces, you landed on a goose, you move 6 more
spaces.) Because there is a goose on every multiple of nine, a throw of nine on the
first roll would allow a player to advance immediately to space 63 and win, a special
rule was made. If a nine is rolled on the first throw, the player advances his piece to
space 26 if the numbers on the dice were 6 & 3. If the numbers on the dice were 4
& 5, the piece advanced to space number 53. From these spaces, the player would
continue the game. Other special-marked spaces, had different effects.
The special-marked spaces, and their affect on play are:
5 Goose Repeat movement until not on a goose
6 Bridge Move to space number 12
9 Goose Repeat movement until not on a goose
14 Goose Repeat movement until not on a goose
18 Goose Repeat movement until not on a goose
19 Inn Lose 2 turns (One drinking, one getting sober)
23 Goose Repeat movement until not on a goose
26 Dice Placement of playing piece if player rolls 6 & 3 on first roll
27 Goose
Repeat movement until not on a goose
31 Well Lose 1 turn (Getting refreshing drink)
32 Goose Repeat movement until not on a goose
36 Goose Repeat movement until not on a goose
41 Goose Repeat movement until not on a goose
42 Maze Go back to space number 30 (Got lost in maze)
45 Goose Repeat movement until not on a goose
50 Goose Repeat movement until not on a goose
52 Prison Lose 1 turn (Arrested! What did you do?)
53 Dice Placement of playing piece if player rolled 4 & 5 on first roll
54 Goose Repeat movement until not on a goose
58 Skull You died!! Go back to starting point and begin again!!!!
59 Goose
Repeat movement until not on a goose
63 Winning Point
(Must land exactly on it.)
There are no captures in the game. Pieces may pass other pieces. If a piece finishes
its move on a space already the occupied by a second piece, the second piece is
moved back to the space the first piece began its turn on. (i.e. If a player who has a
piece on space 20, rolls a 4 he moves his piece to space 24. If space 24 has an
opponent's piece on it, the opponents piece is moved back to space 20, and the
player's piece remains on space 24.)
Alternate Rule: At its height, the game became a gambling game. Each player made
an ante, then each time any player landed on a special-marked space, each player
added to the ante. The first player to be borne off, won the pool.
researched by Modar Neznanich
Tablut is a Finnish tafl game. A tafl game is one where the sides are unequal (in size
or strength). This is a variation of the Norse game known as Hnefatafl.
In Tablut the two sides are known as the Attacker Side and the Defender Side
(sometimes called the King Side).
It is played on a 9 square by 9 square board.
Playing pieces move orthogonally. (Vertically or horizontally, but not diagonally.)
The Attacker Side starts with 16 playing pieces (positioned in the above diagram as
green pieces).
The Defender Side starts with 9 playing pieces (positioned in the above diagram as
yellow pieces). There are 8 regular pieces and 1 King piece. (The King piece is
marked in the above diagram with a "+" symbol on it.
The center square of the board, called the King's Square is depicted as red in the
above diagram.
The object of the Attacker Side is to capture the King, which is accomplished by
surrounding the King on all four orthogonal sides, or surrounding the King on three
sides with the center square of the board (the King's Square) being the fourth side,
or if the King and another Defender piece are enclosed on all sides so that neither
the King or the other Defender piece can move.
The object of the Defender Side is to move the King piece off the board.
Other playing pieces (of either side) can be captured by orthogonal interception.
That is to say that the piece is "caught" between two opposing pieces, either two
horizontally, two vertically, or one of each.
If a playing piece moves between two opposing pieces voluntarily, it is NOT
If the move of a Defender piece (either regular playing piece or the King piece)
gives the King piece a clear line of exit from the board, the Defender player must
announce this.
If the King piece has two clear lines of escape from the board, the Defender must
announce this also.
If a move of an Attacker piece gives the King piece a clear line of exit from the
board, no announcement must be made (by either side).
The players take turns moving one piece, beginning with the Attacker Side.
The number of squares a piece may be moved is determined by the roll of one 6sided die.
The number roll on the die is the maximum number of spaces a piece may move;
fewer spaces may be moved if desired.
The number may NOT be split between pieces. Only one piece is moved per turn.
A piece can only move in one direction during a turn.
compiled by Modar Neznanich
Ringo simulates a castle siege. It is comprised of two teams: the attackers (blue)
and the defenders (green). The attackers are attempting to get two pieces into the
castle (middle circle) in the center. The defenders are trying to stop them by
eliminating the defenders.
Attackers move first. They may move forward (toward the center) and left and right
(around the circle) only (see Fig. 1A). Defenders may move forward, backward, left
and right (see Fig. 1B). Pieces can not share a space.
Pieces are captured by jumping, as in checkers. Attackers can not capture pieces
behind them.
Figure 2 shows an attacker’s possible jumps. Note that the
landing spot for the jump must be empty. Multiple Jumps are not
allowed. So, only one piece can be captured per turn. Defenders
can not enter the castle, but may jump over it to capture an
Attackers piece that has entered it. The blue section of the circle
is the Neutral Zone. A piece in the Neutral Zone may be jumped,
but it will not be captured. Attackers may only have as many
pieces in the Neutral Zone as there are Defenders on the board.
So if the Defender has only two pieces left on the board, the Attacker can only have
two of his pieces in the Neutral Zone. Players must move a piece on each turn. Play
continues until the attackers have landed 2 pieces in the center or the defenders
have eliminated all but one Attacker.
Variations: If the game is somewhat difficult to win as a Defender, one of the
following can used to balance things.
1. Attackers cannot enter the castle from the Neutral Zone
2. Attackers start with 5 or 6 pieces instead of 7
3. Defenders may pass a turn without moving a piece
4. Attackers can only have 1 piece in the Neutral Zone
Author unknown
Horseshoe & madelinette
In many games, a player is awarded an incidental victory by trapping his opponent
such that the opponent has no legal move. There are a few games in which this is
the primary aim, two of which are horseshoe and madelinette. In these two games
there is no capture, but one must win by trapping one’s opponent instead.
Horseshoe has played in India as do-guti, in China as pong hau k'i, in Thailand as
sua tok tong, and in Korea as on-moul-ko-no. It was not played in Europe until
modern times, and it has been given the English name of horseshoe, due to the
shape of its board. In Europe, a slightly larger game with the same rules was
devised, called madelinette. Little information has been recorded about
this game, and so its history is sketchy, but a board in the Hull & East Riding
Museum shows that the game was played in medieval England.
As the two games are broadly similar, the rules here apply to them
both, except where one or other is specifically named.
Beginning the Game of Horseshoe
1. Horseshoe is played on a simple board of five
points, being a crossed
square with one side missing (see Illustration 1).
2. The game is played by two players, each having
two pieces, which start the game as in Illustration
Beginning the Game of
1. Madelinette is
played on a board
of seven points, joined
by lines as
shown in Illustration 2.
2. The game is played by two players, each having
three pieces,
which start the game as in Illustration 2.
Moving the Pieces
3. Players decide between themselves, at random or by agreement, who will move
4. Each player in his turn moves a piece from its point, along a marked line, to an
adjacent empty point.
5. There is no jumping as found in other games, nor is there capture.
Ending the Game
6. The game is over when one of the players is trapped and cannot move. His
opponent is declared the winner.
An Alternative Method of Play
It has been suggested for both games, that instead of adopting the prescribed
positions at the start of the game, the board may start empty. In this case, players
take turns to place one of their pieces at a point of their choice. Once the pieces
have been so placed, the game proceeds as per rule 3 onwards.
Horseshoe is further described, under its different names, in the following
Bell, R. C. Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations, vol. 2, p.
56. New York: Dover Publications, Inc, 1979.
Murray, H. J. R. A History of Board-Games Other than Chess, p. 92.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1952.
Parlett, D. The Oxford History of Board Games, p. 160. Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1999.
Information on madelinette is scanty, but interested readers can find another
description of the game in the following book:
Loader, J & Loader, J. Making Board, Peg & Dice Games, pp. 35-38.
Lewes: Guild of Master Craftsman Publications, Ltd., 1993.
The game of backgammon is often attributed to the Romans. Their game of tabula
certainly resembles backgammon, but even more interesting is an earlier game,
ludus duodecim scriptorum, meaning “game of the twelve lines”, from which tabula
was developed. Ludus duodecim scriptorum was probably adopted from the Greeks.
Its board had three rows of twelve playing spaces, or points, and players each raced
fifteen pieces around the board, according to the throws of three dice. The game
was gradually replaced by tabula after the first century, though it was still played as
late as the sixth.
Over 100 surviving game boards attest the popularity of the game in ancient Rome.
Boards were found further afield, from Wales to Egypt. Boards were also decorated
in a variety of styles, some with squares, some with geometric patterns, but the
most interesting are decorated with phrases, the letters forming the points. One
amusing example reads “levate dalocu ludere nescis idiota recede”, meaning roughly
“get up, get out, you don't know how to play; go away, idiot.”
As with many ancient games, the rules are lost to us. But plausible reconstructions
can be made by examining the boards that survive, the artwork, and some
occasional accounts in literature. The rules below are given by the respected board
game historian, H. J. R. Murray.
Beginning the Game
1. Ludus duodecim scriptorum is played by two on a board consisting of three rows
of twelve points, each row of twelve being divided in half (see Illustration 1).
2. Each player has fifteen pieces of his own colour, either black or white. At the start
of the game these pieces are off the board.
3. Three six-sided dice control the movement of the pieces.
Moving the Pieces
4. Players decide who goes first, either at random or by agreement.
5. A player begins his turn by throwing the three dice. The player can take the
numbers rolled in any order he pleases, and with each number rolled, do one the
a. A piece waiting to enter the board may be placed on the appropriate point 16 (see Illustration 1).
b. A piece on the board may be moved along the course by the appropriate
number of points. Illustration 1 shows the direction that pieces move.
c. If all of the player's pieces are on the points I-VI at the end of the course, then a
piece may be borne off the board from the appropriate point I-VI as shown on the
die. That piece has completed its race.
d. If a piece has been captured as described later in rule 8, it must be re-entered on
point 1-6 as in rule 5.a, before any other piece is played.
6. Pieces of the same colour may be stacked upon a point, to an unlimited height.
7. A piece may not land on a point if two or more of the opponent's pieces already
occupy that point.
Capturing Enemies
8. A piece sat alone on a point is captured if an opponent's piece lands on that same
point. The captured piece is removed from the board, and its owner must on his
turn re-enter it before he moves any other piece (see rule 5.c).
Ending the Game
9. The game is finished when one of the players has borne all fifteen of his pieces
off the board. He is then declared the winner.
Players wishing to study this game further may find food for thought in the
following selection of books.
Bell, R. C. Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations, vol. 1,
pp. 30-34. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1979.
Murray, H. J. R. A History of Board-Games Other than Chess, pp. 3031. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1952.
Parlett, D. The Oxford History of Board Games, pp. 70-72. Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1999.
Pope Joan
Pope Joan is a card game that was popular in the Victorian era. The name is derived
from the legend that Pope John VIII was actually a woman. The object of the game
is to get rid of all of your cards first and to win chips by playing particular cards.
A standard deck of 52 playing cards is used, but the 8 of Diamonds is removed from
the deck for the duration of the game.
Players should be given an equal number of chips. To start the game, players each
ante in an equal number of their chips to fill the circles or “bowls” on the board. The
bowls are for Jack, Queen, King, Ace of Trump, Matrimony (King and Queen of
Trump), Intrigue (Queen and Jack of Trump), Pope (Nine of Diamonds), and Game
(the four suits).
The Jack, Queen, King, Ace and Game bowls should get 1 chip each, the Matrimony
and Intrigue bowls get 2 chips each, and the Pope bowl gets 6 chips, making a total
of 15. So 4 players would ante in 4 chips each with the 1 left over chip being placed
in the center and used to fill a bowl on the next hand.
The dealer deals one hand to each player and one spare hand, called the Widow,
using all the cards in the deck. The players look at their cards, and the spare hand is
left face down and not used in the game. If the number of cards dealt to each
player is not even, the extra cards should be placed in the Widow as well, so that all
players have the same number of cards.
Once the deal is finished, the Dealer turns over the top card on the Widow hand.
The suit of that card is the Trump suit. If the card that is turned up is a Jack,
Queen, King, or Ace or the 9 of Diamonds, the Dealer automatically receives the
contents of the corresponding bowl.
The person to the left of the dealer begins by playing a card. Whoever has the next
higher card of the same suit must now play it, followed by the holder of the card
after that, and so on until either the King is reached or no one can play because no
one holds the next higher card of the suit. If no one has the next higher card than
the last person to play a card may now play a new card from his hand, and play
progresses based on the new card. Example: Another player plays the 2 of
Diamonds, I play the 3 and 4 of Diamonds. No one has the 5. I play a different card
from my hand.
If a player plays the Jack, Queen, King or Ace of the Trump suit, they get the
contents of the corresponding bowl. If they play both the King and Queen of Trump
during the current hand they would get the Matrimony bowl as well as the King and
Queen bowls. The same applies to the Queen and Jack of Trump for the Intrigue
bowl. If they play the Pope card, which is always the 9 of Diamonds, they would get
the Pope bowl.
The first player that plays all the cards in his hand wins the hand and receives the
contents of the Game bowl.
Once the hand is finished, bowls are filled using leftover chips in the center and then
the remainder needed to fill the bowls is divided evenly among the players with
extras again going into the center.
Once the hand is finished, players count how many cards they have left and pay the
winner of the hand the same number of chips. If the player has the Pope left in their
hand un-played they are exempt from paying any chips to the winner.
Ring the Bull
The Basic Game
The target is a hook attached in some way to a wall at about eye-height.
Traditionally, the target should be a bulls horn with the point turned upwards but
modern pubs sometimes use a simple wall hook since a genuine horn has a limited
life span. Sometimes, the stuffed head of a bull or other animal is affixed to the
wall and the target is a hook or knob protruding from its nose.
Several feet from the hook, a ring dangles from the end of a piece of thin rope or
string, the other end of which is attached to the ceiling. Traditionally, the ring is a
bulls nose ring.
A participant should stand on the opposite side of the room to the hook and,
starting with the ring about chest-height, swing the ring with the aim of getting it to
land on the hook.
As an example, the hook might be 5 feet 9 inches from the floor, the ring 1 & 1/2
inches in diameter, the rope 8 feet long and a player could stand behind a line 12
feet from the hook.
Variation 1 - Solo Pastime
Ringing the bull is usually played simply as an entertaining pastime. A person will
make a a number of attempts to ring the bull and then pass the ring to somebody
else for a turn. As a person's skill improves, they may wish to start trying different
techniques. The basic throw is simple a swing in a clockwise direction (for a right
handed player) straight onto the ring but advanced players can also ring the bull
across themselves in an anti-clockwise direction. Old hands are able to throw with
either hand in either direction and will then really impress their spectators by facing
away from the hook and swinging in the opposite direction such that upon its return
the bull is ringed. For extra difficulty, they might do this while standing next to the
target instead of at the usual throwing mark. The ultimate throw is one which
circles the room completely twice and then lands squarely on the target. Difficult
yes, but not impossible!
Variation 2 - A Casual Game
Where the informal pastime becomes an informal competition, a player will just
swing the ring a certain number of times and then make way for the next person.
For these informal games, 21 attempts per person is typical and the player who
rings the bull the most times wins.
Variation 3 - A Competitive Example
In the Pineapple Inn, Shaw, Greater Manchester, they have been reported to play
the game once a year on boxing day as a singles knock-out competition. The target
is a bulls horn.
Before the game starts, each player is allowed three practice swings. During the
game, if a player inadvertently drops the ring, instead of properly swinging it, a
"dropped ring" is called and does not count as an attempt.
The players take turns to swing the ring ten times in succession. A scorer keeps
count of the number of successful bull rings and the first player to achieve the feat
16 times, wins (except for the final which is the first to 21). Masters Games
suggests that the game should not finish until both players have had an equal
number of turns and that, in the event of a draw, the players should continue to
take a turn each of 10 throws in succession until one player is victorious.
Copyright © 1999 Masters Games. All rights reserved.
Dreidel & Bibliography
Spinning the dreidel is a game that's traditionally played during the Hebrew festival
of Hannukah. The dreidel is a four-sided top. The four sides are marked with the
Hebrew letters "Nun", "Gimmel", "Heh", and "Shin".
Everyone starts the game with the same number of markers, generally ten to
fifteen. Markers may be nearly anything; pennies, nuts, matchsticks, etc. Jewish
children frequently play for small candies. Everyone puts one marker into the pot.
On their turn, each player spins the dreidel once. When the dreidel stops, the face
that's uppermost determines the player's pay-off.
"Nun" stands for "nisht" which means "nothing". The player wins nothing. "Gimmel"
stands for "gantz" which means "all". The player wins the entire pot. "Heh" stands
for "halb" which means "half". The player wins half the pot. If there is an odd
number of tokens, the player takes the extra token. "Shin" stands for "shtel" which
means "put in". The player must put two of his own tokens in the pot.
When the pot is reduced to less than two tokens, all the players must add one token
to the pot. When a player runs out of tokens, they are out of the game. The game
ends when one player has collected everything.
A partial list of the books and references I have been using to write this monthly
column is listed below. I am citing only general works, not any books devoted
exclusively to a single game. -- Dagonell
Bell, Richard C. Board and Table Games of Many Civilizations (Dover Pub.; 1979;
ISBN 0-486-23855-5; $6.50) My edition is "revised edition - two volumes bound as
one" which makes it a bit confusing as the sequence goes; table of contents, text,
bibliography, index, table of contents, text, bibliography, index.
Botermans, Jack (trans.) The World of Games: Their Origin and History, How to Play
Them and How to Make Them (NY; Facts on File; 1989; ISBN 0-8160-2184-8; 240
pgs, ill.) (Originally pub. as Wereld vol spelletjes ) Excellent book. Well illustrated
and documented.
DeLuca, Jeff (SCA: Salamallah the Corpulent) Medieval Games (Raymond's Quiet
Press; 3rd ed. 1995; ISBN 0-943228-03-4; $10.00) He's a Laurel for board games,
the book is very well researched, and is currently on its third edition. The
Bibliography is excellent.
Gomme, Alice Traditional Games of England, Scotland and Ireland (London; Thames
and Hudson; 1894; 2 vol.; ISBN 0-500-27316-2; $18.95) Normally, I avoid Victorian
books as the scholarship usually tends to be nearly non-existant. These books
however, are very well researched.
Grunfeld, Frederic V. (ed) Games of the World: How to Make Them, How to Play
Them, How They Came to be (NY; Holt, Rinehart & Winston; 1975; ISBN 0-03015261-5; 280 pgs, ill.) My copy doesn't have the price listed on it. Richard Bell (see
listing above) is listed as one of the consultants for the book. The book is
documented to the nth degree with photographs of museum pieces and medieval
manuscripts. Instructions on building boards and playing pieces are well written,
well diagrammed and often photographed in intermediate stages of construction.
Games are categorized into: Board & Table Games, Street & Playground Games,
Field & Forest Games, Party & Festival Games, and Puzzles, Tricks & Stunts.
Additionally the table of contents has cross-indexed each game for: Indoor or
Outdoor; Solo, Pair or Group; Mental, Physical or Chance; Playing Time - Short,
Medium, Long & Prepartion Time - Short, Medium, Long.
Maguire, Jack Hopscotch, Hangman, Hot Potato, & Ha-ha-ha (Simon & Schuster;
1992; ISBN 0-671-76332-6; 304 pgs; $15) Forward by Bob Keeshan, better known
as Captain Kangaroo! An excellent instruction manual, it gives a number of
variations for most games. It does not discuss the history of games.
Reeves, Compton Pleasures and Pastimes of Medieval England (England; Alan
Sutton Pub.; 1995; ISBN 0-7509-0089-X; 228 pgs) Barnes and Noble recently
bought the printing rights for this previously out of print book. It doesn't cover rules
for specific games, but the documentation is excellent. Very well illustrated with
photos of artifacts and reproductions of historical manuscripts.
Society for Creative Anachronism, Compleat Anachronist pamphlet series (P.O. Box
360789, Milpitas CA 95036-0789, $4 each):
Compleat Anachronist #04 "Indoor Games or How to While Away a Siege"
Compleat Anachronist #71 "Period Pastimes"
Compleat Anachronist #78 "Non-European Games"
Sterling Publishing Family Fun & Games (NY; Sterling Pub.; 1994; ISBN 0-80698776-6; 800 pgs; $18) No author or editor listed. It's advertised as a reference book
and that's what it is. It's a how-to manual that contains directions for virtually every
game and type of game known; board games, dice, cards, active games, party
games, scavenger hunts, etc. No historical background, however it occasionally
mentions that a game is "hundreds of years old."
by Dagonell the Juggler
The game of Agon is somewhat mysterious and very much ahead of its time. To
look at, it resembles one of the plethora of abstract board games created in the late
20th century, not least because of its use of a hexagonal board with hexagonal
playing spaces. However, it is very much older than this.
The game was first mentioned in 1872, and its first recorded appearance in England
was in a book of 1890. It was published by Jaques of London some time during the
Victorian Era. Earlier mentions of it come from France, but state that the game
comes from outside France. Yet French table tops dating from the 1780s have been
seen with the peculiar board pattern. Whether these are gaming tables or whteher
they bear the pattern by coincidence is not certain. Agon is a game that can be
regarded as part battle and part race. Each player has six guards and a queen, and
from this game game is sometimes called Queen's Guard. The object for each player
is to get his queen to the centre of the board with the help of her guards.
Beginning the Game
1. Agon is played on a hexagonal board made of 91 hexagonal playing spaces. Each
concentric layer for hexagons is so coloured that it is easy to see a playing space's
distance from the centre of the board.
2. The players each start with a queen and six guards. They are placed in a set
configuration at the edge of the board, as shown in Illustration 1.
3. It is decided at random who moves first. Play then alternates between players.
Moving the Pieces
4. In his turn a player moves a piece one space in any direction, excepting any
direction that leads away from the centre.
5. A piece may not land on or jump over another.
6. A piece may not move adjacent to two enemy pieces such that it is directly
between them.
7. Only a queen may move to the central space.
Capturing Pieces
8. If a piece becomes sandwiched between two enemies, it is captured.
9. If the queen is captured, then its owner must, on his next turn,remove the queen
from her predicament and place her on any other space on the board. This is
instead of moving one his pieces as described in rules 4- 6.
10. Otherwise if one of his guards is captured, the player must remove the guard
from his predicament, but the guard must be placed on a space at the edge of the
11. Only one captured piece may be so removed each turn; so a player may arrest
his opponent's strategy for a number of turns if he makes multiple captures at once.
Ending the Game
12. A player has won the game when his queen rests on the central space, and her
six guards are on the six spaces adjacent to her.
13. A player has lost the game if his six guards are adjacent to the central space but
his queen is not between them, as this configuration prevents either player from
ever winning the game.
Some writers suggest a replacement for rule 2 which offers greater variety of game
play. The queens are placed in opposite corners of the board as normal, but the
guards are placed one at a time, in any space, alternating between players until all
guards are placed. Play then proceeds as normal. Some say the queens themselves
may be placed anywhere, like the guards. In both cases the queens are placed first.
Readers who want to know more about Agon can further their
researches with the following books:
Bell, R. C. Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations,
vol. 2, pp. 61- 63. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1979.
Parlett, D. The Oxford History of Board Games, pp. 146147. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Damian Walker
Tag Games
The basic game is quite simple. One person is `it' and has to catch or `tag'
someone else. The person caught generally becomes `it'. In some games, the
original `it' may not be tagged again until someone else has been tagged, or at
least until a short time period has passed. In other games, `it' must tag on the run
to avoid being re-tagged immediately. Some game variations have safety areas or
conditions for those being chased. If a player is in a pre-determined area or
perfoming a particular action, `it' may not tag him. As "Tag" is a game of pursuit
and capture, it is considered poor sportsmanship for a player to hover around a
safety zone, likewise `it' should not wait around a safety zone guarding it from use
or waiting for a player to emerge. Variations on this game also include limitations or
restrictions to increase the difficulty of `it' tagging someone. In the case of extreme
limitations, players are encouraged to dare each other into `its' reach. Players
should agree to all rule variations in advance. There is no scoring in any variant, the
game is played until exhaustion or boredom.
BLIND MAN'S BLUFF -- `It' is blindfolded. Players are encouraged to come as close
as possible to `it' without getting caught. In the Middle Ages, this game was known
as "Hoodsman's Blind" because the usual blindfold was simply a lirripipe hat or a
hood put on backwards with the face opening to the back of the head.
JINGLING -- A reverse "Blind Man's Bluff", everybody except `it' is blindfolded. `It'
has a string of bells. Whomever can catch `it', is `it' for the next round.
TOUCH IRON / TOUCH WOOD / TOUCH STONE -- A player cannot be tagged as
long as he is touching the correct material. Players should agree on which material
to use in advance. It should be something that is present, but not in overwhelming
abundance. Playing "Touch Iron" in a desert is merely a game of "Tag", playing
"Touch Wood" in a forest condemns the same player to be `it' forever.
FEET OFF GROUND -- A player cannot be tagged as long as his feet are off the
ground. Sitting on an object, hanging from a tree branch and on his back with his
legs in the air are all legitimate safeties.
PRAYER TAG -- A player cannot be tagged as long as he is on his knees with his
hands together as if in prayer.
HORNS, HORNS -- `It' is a devil and places his hands on the sides of his head with
his index fingers sticking up to represent horns. Whomever the devil makes body
contact with becomes a devil and also chases players. The last person to become a
devil is `it' for the next round.
TOM TIDLER'S GROUND -- An area is marked out and designated as Tom Tidler's
Ground. Generally, this is done simply by dragging a heel in the dirt. `It' is Tom
Tidler and must stay within the designated area. The other players run in and out of
Tom Tidler's ground and try to avoid getting tagged. Whomever Tom Tidler tags
becomes the new Tom Tidler. MODERN VARIATION: A half dozen handkerchiefs
each loosely tied in a knot are scattered within Tom Tidler's ground. Players try to
steal them without getting caught.
BARLEY BREAK -- As in "Tom Tidler's Ground", an area is marked out that `it' may
not leave. The other players try to cross the area without being tagged. The first
player `it' tags must join hands with `it' and together they try to tag others, each
using only their free hand. As additional players are caught, they must join onto the
end of the line. Only the original `it' and the newest player caught may tag,
however players in the middle of the line may assist by helping to `net' free players.
The last player captured becomes `it' for the next game.
QUE LOO LOO (WOLF IN THE HENHOUSE) -- An area is marked out and designated
as the Henhouse. One player is chosen to be the Wolf, another player is chosen to
be the Hen or Rooster. All other players are baby chicks. All players except Wolf
must remain in the henhouse. When Wolf enters the henhouse, all the baby chicks
try to run and hide behind Hen in single file, each holding onto the person in front of
them. If Wolf catches them before they can get behind Hen, they are out of the
game and must let Wolf lead them out of the Henhouse. Once they are in line, the
closer Wolf gets to them, the louder the baby chicks have to say `Cheep!' Hen
cannot be taken by Wolf as long as there are still baby chicks left. The Hen can
`peck' Wolf, poking him with an index finger to drive him away from the baby
chicks. The Wolf has to avoid Hen and tag only the last baby chick in the line. When
a chick is tagged, he must let go of the chick in front of him and let Wolf lead him
out of the henhouse. If the line behind Hen breaks, the broken off section is a new
line and the chicks at either end are fair game for Wolf as is any chick by himself.
The broken off section is NOT obligated to stay in a line and the individual chicks
may break away and re-attach themselves behind Hen in any order. When the last
chick has been caught, Wolf must then tag Hen who becomes Wolf for the next
game. VARIATION: With only one Wolf and one Hen, it's fairly easy for Hen to
interpose herself between Wolf and chicks. Try it with multiple Wolves and Hens.
BASTE THE BEAR (TEASE THE BEAR) -- One player is chosen to be Bear, another to
be Bear-Keeper. Bear has one end of a rope tied around his waist. Bear-Keeper
holds the other end of the rope in one hand and his `whip', another length of rope
or a few stalks of wheat, in the other hand. All other players are Urchins. Urchins try
to tease or baste Bear. Bear tries to catch Urchins. Bear-Keeper must keep Bear
away from Urchins by pulling on Bear's rope and keep Urchins away from Bear by
hitting them with his whip. If an Urchin is caught by Bear or hit three times by Bear-
Keeper's whip, he becomes the new Bear, the old Bear becomes the new BearKeeper and the old Bear-Keeper becomes an Urchin for the next game.
HOW MANY MILES TO LONDON? -- `It' is blindfolded. All players stand in a line and
ask `it' for directions. `It' tells them how many paces forward, backward, left or
right they must go. `It' is led to the starting point and must follow his own
directions. When `it' is where he thinks the other players are, he must try to touch
one. Players are allowed to duck and sway to avoid `its' touch, but must not move
their feet. Any player who is tagged by it, or moves his feet to avoid being tagged,
is `it' for the next game. MODERN VARIATION: Players start at random points in the
playing area. `It' starts in the center of the playing area and tells players how many
steps they take; one, two or three; what size steps; big, as large as possible,
medium, a regular step, or small, the length of one foot; and what direction,
forward, backward, left or right. It then follows his own directions and tries to tag a
player as above. If `it' cannot tag anyone, or there is no one within reach, `it' then
gives a new set of directions which the players must follow, starting from where
they currently are. `It' also follows his own directions from his current location. `It'
should listen carefully to where players are, and try to give directions to bring them
closer to him.
by Dagonell the Juggler
Liar’s Dice
Liar’s Dice is a simple bluffing game played with standard 6-sided dice, dice cups,
and a gameboard. Players bid (and bluff) on how many dice of a certain value they
believe are in play based on what dice they roll (which are known to them) and
what dice they think all of their opponents have rolled (which are hidden). A game
consists of multiple rounds in which an opening bid is made, players continuously
raise the bid, and the bid is challenged and resolved. One or more players lose one
or more dice each round. Rounds continue until one player wins by being the only
player with dice remaining.
A version of this game was played in the 2006 Disney movie “Pirates of the
Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.”
After several rounds of play, be the last player remaining with one or more dice.
Players drop out of the game as they lose all of their dice.
A Quick Look At The Game
A game of Liar’s Dice consists of several rounds of play. Each round begins with an
opening bid, continues as players raise the bid, and ends after a bid is challenged
and the challenge is resolved.
A Bid is a claim that a certain amount of Player’s Dice in play are showing either the
same number, or a Wild. Players bid on what’s showing on their own dice — and on
all other dice in play. ONES ARE CONSIDERED WILD.
A Challenge is a claim that the current bid is too high — that is, the challenger
doubts that there are enough Player’s Dice in play to match the current bid.
One or more players lose one or more dice on every round of play as the result of a
Players who have lost all of their dice must drop out of the game. Rounds of play
continue until one player wins by being the only player remaining with any dice!
Game Setup
1. Each player takes one Dice Cup and five Player’s Dice.
2. Choose a player to make the opening bid in the first round of play. In all rounds
to follow, the winner of the challenge in the previous round opens the bidding in the
new round.
Gameboard Components
The Liar’s Dice board consists of the following components:
1. THE BIDDING TRACK: Made up of Bidding Spaces. These are the numbered
squares along the outside edge of the board. As bids are raised, the Bidding Die
advances clockwise along the spaces on this track.
2. NUMBER BID SPACES: There are 20 Number Bid spaces on the Bidding Track.
Players place the Bidding Die on a Number Bid space to indicate a Number Bid. See
NUMBER BIDS in the A ROUND OF PLAY section below.
3. WILD BID SPACES: There are 10 Wild Bid spaces on the Bidding Track. Players
place the Bidding Die on a Wild Bid space to indicate a Wild Bid. See WILD BIDS in
the A ROUND OF PLAY section below.
4. THE LOST DICE AREA: Players place the dice they lose into the Lost Dice Area in
the center of the board, inside the Bidding Track. These dice remain out of play until
the end of the game.
A Round of Play
There are four steps to every round of play. These steps are completed in the
following order:
To begin any round of play, shake all of your Player’s Dice inside your Dice Cup,
then place your cup upside-down over your dice to hide them. All players do the
same. You may peek at your dice as often as you want during the round.
You may declare any amount of numbers (or Wilds) as your opening bid, even if you
didn’t roll them. Make sure your bid is reasonable, however, as the player on your
left will have the option to challenge it!
There are two kinds of bids: Number Bids and Wild Bids. Both are explained below,
with examples.
NUMBER BIDS. There are 20 Number Bid spaces on the Bidding Track (numbered
“1” through “20”). A Number Bid is a claim that a certain amount of ALL the Player’s
Dice in play are showing a particular number value OR a Wild.
All matching numbers AND all Wilds on the Player’s Dice in play count toward a
Number Bid. For example, if you have three 3's and your opponents have a total of
four 3’s and two Wilds, there are nine 3's in play: Your three 3’s, their four 3’s, and
their two Wilds (3+4+2=9).
To declare a Number Bid, place the Bidding Die on a Number Bid space on the
Bidding Track. The accompanying number on the Number Bid space indicates the
amount of Player’s Dice you are bidding on. The value showing on the Bidding Die
indicates the value you claim is showing on all the Player’s Dice in play. For
example, if your bid is for nine 3’s, you would place the Bidding Die on the ninth
Number Bid space, and turn the die so the number three is on top.
WILD BIDS. There are 10 Wild Bid spaces on the Bidding Track (numbered “1”
through “10”). A Wild Bid is a claim that a certain amount of ALL the Player’s Dice in
play are showing Wilds (ones). ONLY WILDS in play count toward a Wild Bid.
To declare a Wild Bid, place the Bidding Die on a Wild Bid space on the Bidding
Track. The accompanying number on the Wild Bid space indicates the amount of
Wilds you are bidding on. The Bidding Die should be turned Wild side up to indicate
a Wild Bid. For example, for a bid of five Wilds, place the Bidding Die on the fifth
Wild Bid space, and turn the die so the number one is on top.
After the opening bid is made, play continues to the left. Each player, in turn, has
two Options:
* Either raise the current bid;
* Or challenge the current bid.
Choose one option or the other on your turn — no passing allowed! Never bid or
challenge out of turn! RAISING THE BID and CHALLENGING THE BID are explained
in detail below.
You can raise the bid in any one of the following three ways:
* Either keep the Bidding Die on the same bidding space, and show a higher
number on top;
* Or move the Bidding Die clockwise to a higher Number Bid space, and show any
number on top;
* Or move the Bidding Die clockwise to a higher Wild Bid space, and show the Wild
on top.
NOTE: Immediately before raising the bid, you may take advantage of the SHOW
AND REROLL RULE explained below.
Beyond Bidding Space 20: The last space on the bidding track is 20. If the bid goes
higher than 20, the Number Bid space "1” becomes “21", and so on. The Wild Bid
space "1” becomes “11" and so on.
If you don’t believe there are enough Player’s Dice in play to support the current
bid, you may challenge it rather than raise it. Remember — you can only challenge a
bid on your turn! To challenge the bid, just say, “I challenge!” Then resolve the
challenge as explained below.
To resolve a challenge, all players lift their cups to reveal their Player’s Dice. Count
all dice in play that match the challenged bid: numbers and Wilds for Number Bids;
Wilds only for Wild Bids.
After counting the dice, determine who loses the challenge. This is done in the
following way:
* If the actual amount of dice is more than the bid amount, the challenger loses the
* If the actual amount of dice is less than the bid amount, the bidder loses the
* If the actual amount of dice is exactly equal to the bid amount, everyone except
the bidder loses the challenge!
When you lose a challenge, you lose the difference between the bid amount of bid
dice and the actual amount of bid dice in play. If the bid amount is exactly equal to
the actual amount, every player except the bidder loses one die! However, if you are
down to one die remaining and you are not directly involved in the challenge (i.e.
you are not the bidder or the challenger), you do not lose your last die when the bid
amount equals the actual amount. See CHALLENGE EXAMPLES below.
Place the amount of dice you lose into the Lost Dice Area in the center of the
gameboard. These dice are out of play for the remainder of the game.
Once you lose all of your dice, you are out of the game!
Example 1: You challenge a bid of eight 5’s. When all Player’s Dice are revealed,
seven 5’s and four Wilds are counted. That’s eleven 5’s in all — three more than the
bid amount. The bidder was right: there were at least eight 5’s in play. you lose the
challenge, and 3 of your Player’s Dice (11 actual dice minus 8 bid dice). Surrender
any three of your Player’s Dice to the Lost Dice Area in the center of the
Example 2: You challenge a bid of seven Wilds. When the dice are revealed, five
Wilds are counted. The bidder loses the challenge, and surrenders two dice (7 bid
dice minus 5 actual dice) to the Lost Dice Area.
Example 3: You challenge a bid of fourteen 2’s. The dice are revealed, and EXACTLY
fourteen 2’s and Wilds are counted. You — and all other players except the bidder
— lose the challenge! Everyone except the bidder surrenders one die to the Lost
Dice Area. If another player would lose their last die in this manner, they retain it,
as they are not directly a part of this challenge (they are neither the bidder nor the
Starting A New Round
After the challenge is resolved and the round ends, start a new round. The player
who won the challenge in the previous round makes the opening bid in the new
round. Bidding can begin anywhere on the bidding track.
The Show and Reroll Rule
If you decide to raise the current bid rather than challenge the previous bid, you
may use the Show and Reroll Rule. Immediately before raising a bid, you may place
one or more of your Player’s Dice outside of your dice cup for all players to see,
then reroll and hide all of your remaining dice. Then you must raise the bid.
Showing and rerolling could improve your chances of winning a possible challenge.
You may show any amount of dice outside of your cup, as long as you have at least
one die left to reroll. The dice you show don’t have to match either the current bid
or your new bid. They stay in view, outside of your cup, for the rest of the round,
and count toward the challenged bid if they match it.
You may not Show and Reroll on an opening bid.
If you Show and Reroll, you MUST then raise the current bid. I.e., you can’t Show
and Reroll and then challenge the current bid.
A Show and Reroll Example.
The bid is ten 6’s. You have four dice left: one 6, one Wild, and two 4’s. You show
your 6 and your Wild, and reroll your two 4’s. You must then raise the bid, say, to
eleven 6’s.
If your bid of eleven 6’s is then challenged, the 6 and Wild outside your cup will
count toward your bid — as well as any 6’s or Wilds you got by rerolling your two
How To Win
Continue playing rounds until only one player remains with one or more Player’s
Dice. This surviving player wins the game!
Game Variations
Simple variations.
* Each round the loser of the challenge loses only one die. This prevents the
situation where a player loses most of their dice early and is at a severe
disadvantage for the majority of the game.
* Play with more (or less) than five Player’s Dice per player (use more dice in 2-3
player games).
* The loser of the previous round opens the bidding in the new round. If more than
one loser, the one with the least number of Player’s Dice opens the bidding in the
new round.
* Show and Reroll variant. The original 1987 rules called for you to raise the bid
before Showing and Rerolling. I prefer the SoCal Gamers variant of raising the bid
after you reroll and have a chance to see your new dice roll, which is what I have
incorporated into the standard rules above.
Playing For Chips.
Chips aren’t included in the game, but you may use them (or any other counters) to
play this interesting game variation. Each player starts the game with 50 chips. Two
“pots” are used: One Round-of-Play Pot and one Game Pot. At the beginning of
every round, each player places one chip in the Round-of-Play Pot, and one chip in
the Game Pot. The winner of the challenge wins the Round-of-Play Pot. The winner
of the game wins the Game Pot!
Liar’s Dice: The Drinking Game.
Take a drink for every die that you lose. Or, alternatively, take a drink for every die
an opponent loses. Beer for the adults, root beer for the kids…
The original Liar’s Dice rules can be found at:
Some of the Rules Variations incorporated into this text were suggested in the
Revised Liar's Dice rules from SoCal Gamers file, titled LIAR.doc, in the Files section
at the bottom of the BoardGameGeek’s Liar’s Dice page
A selection of Liar’s Dice gameboards are available for download in the Files section
of the above-mentioned BoardGameGeek website. I prefer the PiratesMapBoard.jpg
by ixnay66. redjack11’s
pirates_themed_liars_dice_mat-trh_v1-1.pdf is a close second.
These rules can be downloaded there as well:
* Liars_Dice_Rules_By_JR.doc. This file is the document you are reading now. It is
the full set of rules with gameplay examples.
* Liars_Dice_Abbreviated_Rules_By_JR.doc. This is the abbreviated set of rules
formatted to fit on a single sheet of paper, front and back. It is a more or less
complete set of rules, but with fewer examples. It was designed to get you up and
running with the game as quickly as possible.
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