Traditional Board Games

Tâb: a Battle Game That Looks Like a Race

A modern tâb set ready for play.
A modern tâb set ready for play.

Friday, 24th June 2016

The posts I wrote yesterday and the day before were about two unusual games: race games without a luck element.  Today I'll flip that around to present another unusual type: a battle game with luck.  Today's battle games often use dice to resolve combat, but in mediaeval times when Tâb was invented, this was the exception.

As I built up a list of games to include in A Book of Historic Board Games, I could see that battle games would come to dominate: seven of the twelve ended up being battle games or hybrid battle games.  To maintain a bit of balance I made sure that one of them was Tâb.  It feels very much like a race game, with pieces moving around a set course according to the throws of casting sticks.  It is the objective that makes it a battle game: to capture all enemy pieces and remove them from the game.

Tâb also has a very interesting history.  A mediaeval game originating in the middle east, it somehow managed to spawn descendants in England and Scandinavia without having been introduced to the lands in between.  These facts gave it a place in my book along with another: I wanted at least one game in the book that wasn't already one of my Traditional Board Games Leaflets.

While this site has a page about the game, the book goes into far more detail.  If you're interested in the book then please visit its page at Lulu.


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