Many would consider board games which are still played today to be a relatively recent invention, however the history of board games goes back thousands of years with games being developed in many different parts of the world.
In English-speaking countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, etc most people have heard of best selling board games such as Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Yahtzee, Scrabble, Battleship and many others. However games such as Senet, Go and Tafl probably do not sound so familiar.
Hailing from ancient Egypt, Senet is a game that dates back to 3100 BCE. The name roughly translates in English to the “game of passing”. Somewhat resembling an oddly shaped ancient checkers board, the Senet game board is a grid of thirty squares, set up in three rows of ten. Unfortunately no exact rules are known for the game and have only been guessed by scholars who believe the game is played like a distant variation of checkers.
Despite being noted of being played in China back to at least the 4th century BCE, Go is still being played today throughout the world. Go is a two player strategy game which is noted for its simplicity in rules, however at the same time being rich in strategy. Go is played on a wooden board with 19 lines running horizontally and vertically. Game play consists of each player moving their pieces in accordance with the ancient rules.
Tafl is a two player game which has ancient Germanic, Celtic and Viking history dating back to around 400 CE. Viewed by some as the thinking man’s game prior to Chess arriving to Northern Europe, Tafl games generally go for 5-20 minutes on what looks like an uncolored chess board. The rules are also somewhat similar to chess in that each of the two players have their own colored pieces which may perform certain actions. One key difference to chess is each player has a different amount of game pieces.
There are many resources online to read about the rich history of board games and their rules. All it takes is some searches in your favorite search engine and you can be swept back generations or even thousands of years to a different era. If you can’t find the board or pieces for some of these very old games, you can even user the internet to look up resources on making a board game.
Perhaps next time you are with your friends you might even play what your ancestors once did or at the very least this will allow you to think a little bit differently next time you play one of today’s best selling board games.