Traditional Board Games

Halma: a Race Game Without Luck

Halma, in a modern Spears edition.
Halma, in a modern Spears edition.

Wednesday, 22nd June 2016

In yesterday's blog post, I mentioned a few of the criteria for choosing the games that I put into A Book of Historic Board Games.  Another one probably goes without saying: that the game should be fun to play.  And Halma certainly fits in there!

This is one of those games where one can enjoy it no matter what the level of skill.  The game may be played with concentration and forward planning, or may be equally enjoyed in a devil-may-care fashion casually seeing where each move leads.  The nature of the game gives enjoyment in whatever mode it is played.

Halma also has an interesting characteristic. It is a race game without dice or other luck elements.  The lack of dice give some people a problem in identifying it as a race game, since dice or other luck elements are almost universal in race games (as in backgammon, ludo and a host of others).  But the objective of the game, dice or no dice, is to get your team of pieces to the finish line before your opponents do likewise.  That is clearly a race.

Halma's excellent playability and its unusual tactical race mechanic combine with an interesting history and scope for strategic play to give it a place among the race games in my book.  If you're interested in reading the results, you can buy the book from here.


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