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The 10 Most Influential Board Games

The 10 Most Influential Board Games

The idea behind any board game is simple: you have a “world” (the board), a set of guiding parameters (the rules) and a group of independent actors (the players). From this point onwards, each game gains its own dynamics and may evolve into very complex lines of play or just plain and unpretentious fun. Here is a list with the 10 most relevant board games identified throughout our history.

The 10 Most Influential Board Games 10. The Tafl Games

The Tafl games are in fact a family of strategy board games often played by the Celtic, Germanic and Scandinavian noblemen. The game involved two armies of different sizes and a 9x9 board; the smaller army would be placed at the center of the board and would have a king. The larger army would have its pieces posted at the edges of the board, their objective being to keep the enemy king from reaching the edge of the board. The Tafl games were said to involve the throwing dice, adding a gambling component to the strategic depth of the games. It is worth mentioning that the games reached the farthest corners of Europe on the tip of the Viking swords.

The 10 Most Influential Board Games 9. The Landlord’s Game

The Landlord Game was invented by Lizzie Magie, a Maryland actress, in 1903. The board game consisted of a square track surrounded by a row of different property squares the players could buy. The game included four railroads, two utilities and a jail. The Landlord’s Game, later known as Prosperity, had a very interesting message: it was designed to showcase the poverty and injustice of the capitalist ownership system. The Landlord’s Game idea was later stolen and sold off as Monopoly by Charles Darrow.

The 10 Most Influential Board Games 8. Vaikuntapaali

Vaikuntapaali is the first version of Chutes and Ladders, or Snakes and Ladders. It was developed in XVIth century India and was supposed to showcase the value of good deeds versus the eventual downfall caused by bad deeds. The main aim was to reach the top, symbolizing Nirvana and spiritual bliss.

The 10 Most Influential Board Games 7. Nine Men’s Morris

Nine Men’s Morris is a solved strategy game that involves placing your pieces in a certain formation in order to be able to remove one of the opponent’s pieces, or ”men”, from the board. One competitor wins when his rival is left with two pieces or has no legal moves available. The game has been played starting with 1440 B.C. with boards being found everywhere from Sri Lanka to Ireland.

The 10 Most Influential Board Games 6. The Mansion of Happiness

The Mansion of Happiness is one of the first board games published in the United States. It was a heavily religious game with the final goal being to reach heaven by avoiding several sins represented by the poisoned squares.

The 10 Most Influential Board Games 5. Senet

Senet is the oldest know board game, dating back to 3.500 B.C., Egypt. One of the most peculiar characteristics of this Egyptian game was its 3 square wide and 10 square long board. Though the rules of Senet have been lost, it is generally considered that it was a dice based game in which each player tried to reach the end of the board.

The 10 Most Influential Board Games 4. Mancala

Mancala is a family of games which have the same basic rules. It is believed by some to be even older than Senet, though this has not yet been thoroughly established. In order to play Mancala, you only need two or more rows of holes dug along each other and a handful of seeds. While the rules might differ between different versions of Macala, the basic idea is to count really fast in order to win.

The 10 Most Influential Board Games 3. Chaupat

Chaupat is a cross-and-circle game in which each player has to race his pieces around the cross shaped board. In order to capture an enemy piece, your piece must land on top of it while if two of your pieces are placed on the same square, they become a “super-piece”.

The 10 Most Influential Board Games 2. Chaturanga

Chaturanga has a very special place in the history of board games due to the fact that it is the common ancestor of several very interesting strategy games, including chess, Shogi and Xiangqi. The game was developed in India in the VIth century AD and had a similar piece layout as modern chess. Despite the fact that the exact rules have been mostly forgotten, it is believed that it had rules similar to its modern “descendants”.

The 10 Most Influential Board Games 1. The Royal Game of Ur

The Royal Game of Ur is considered one of the oldest board game with a surviving set of rules, pre-dated only by Senet. Similar to its Egyptian counterpart, the Royal Game of Ur is a race game with two sets of pieces, white and black. The number of moves depended on the throw of a tetrahedral dice. Game sets were mostly found in the tombs of noblemen, indicating that it was indeed a game of kings.

 

 

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