From A Book of Historic Board Games
In November 2014 A Book of Historic Games was published in hardback and paperback formats. It contains twelve games, each of which is treated in more depth than you see on this web site. The format is similar, with a history, rules and strategy for each game, spanning between twelve and 24 pages.
The twelve games are listed on this page. Owners of the book can bookmark this as a handy reference for support material (print-and-play sets, links to products in the shop, for instance).
If you don't yet have a copy of the book, and wish to buy one, then please click on these hardback or paperback links for more details.
Agon is a kind of race game played with pure strategy. Sometimes called Queen's Guard, the game features a queen and six guards for each of the two players. The object is to get one's queen to the centre of the board, surrounded by her guards. The most notable aspect of this game is that it is one of the earliest to be played on a hexagonal grid. History of Agon The game of agon is somewhat mysterious and ... (read more...)
Asalto is a hunt game from 19th-century Europe. It uses a cross-shaped board of 33 points, with one of the arms of the cross marked out as a fortress. Two loyal officers man the fortress, and they try to fend of 24 invading rebels who are trying to trap them. A number of variations were made on this game. German Tactics restricted the movement of the rebels. Officers & Sepoys enlarged the board to accommodate fifty rebels and three ... (read more...)
Fanorona is a game of pure strategy from Madagascar. Based loosely on alquerque, the game is notable for its unusual methods of capture. Whole rows of enemy pieces are captured by approach and withdrawal, where a piece moves up to touch the enemies or, when touching, moves away. The capture of whole rows of pieces gives the game a dramatic beginning, with a full board providing many targets for capture to each player. History of Fanorona The game dates ... (read more...)
The game of halma, whose name means "jump" in Greek, is an entertaining product of the Victorian era. An 18th century gaming board marked out like a halma board suggests it may have earlier origins, but it was not until the 1880s that it was published and came to the attention of the wider world. The object of the game is to get your pieces to the opposite corner of the board before your opponent(s) can do the same. ... (read more...)
A game already being played by the Hawaiians when Captain James Cook made contact with the islanders in the eighteenth century. This is a game of capture where the object is not to take the most pieces, but to leave your opponent without a legal move. There is the original version and a simplified modern version. In both games, you capture a piece of the opposing colour by jumping over it with one of your own pieces, horizontally ... (read more...)
Nine Men's Morris
Nine men's morris is a classic game of pure strategy. It has been described as "noughts and crosses for adults", as it shares the simpler game's aim for forming rows of three, but weaves that aim into a much more sophisticated game of wits. The rows of three, called "mills", are not the main aim of the game, they are a means to an end. The board starts empty, and players place their pieces in turn; forming a row ... (read more...)
Pachisi, sometimes called the National Game of India, is a race game for four players played on a cross-shaped board. Each player must race their pieces from the centre, around the board, and back again, landing on their opponents where possible to send them back to the start. Players form partnerships, and the game is won and lost by partners, not individuals. History of Pachisi History of Pachisi Among the many board games that India has given the world, ... (read more...)
Renju is a Japanese game more popular in its homeland than abroad. Two players, black and white, place stones on a grid, attempting to form a row of five. Because the first player normally has a great advantage in such connection games, there are limitations placed on the first player's formations that do not apply to the opponent. This makes the game fairly well-balanced and suitable for serious play. History of Renju For many years in Japan, games have ... (read more...)
Tâb is a war game from the middle east. Historically it was played a across the Islamic world, from West Africa to Iran in the east, and from Turkey in the north to Anjouan in the south. The game is played by two on a board of four rows of (typically) nine squares. Each player has nine pieces which move around the board as if it were a track, according to the throws of four casting sticks. Pieces do ... (read more...)
Tablut is a hybrid hunt/war game from Lapland. It is one of many variants of the old Norse game of hnefatafl, played throughout Northern Europe. A king attempts to escape from the board with the help of eight defenders. Sixteen attackers attempt to capture him. History of Tablut In 1732, the famous Swedish botanist Linnaeus took a tour of Lapland, keeping a journal of all that interested him. Among the non-botanical observations that he included in this journal were ... (read more...)
Wari is a game from the mancala family, in which pieces are moved around the board by lifting and sowing, i.e. lifting all the pieces from one of the holes, and dropping them singly in consecutive holes around a given route. Pieces are not marked as belonging to players; instead, players own all the pieces on their own side of the board. In wari there are two ranks of six holes, each one having four pieces at the start ... (read more...)
The Chinese have their own game of chess, called xiang qi, pronounced "shyang chee". It differs from the European game in a number of ways. The board is a lattice grid of ten ranks nine points each. A river divides the two sides, and at each end is a marked 'castle', to which the generals (kings) and ministers (queens) are confined. The pieces sit on the points, not in the squares. The moves of the pieces are similar to ... (read more...)