Cambio, similarly to Quarto!, is a complicated or ‘thinking mans version’ of Tic-Tac-Toe (Naughts and Crosses). For this review we’ve done another video. The video covers all our normal sections except ‘History and Interesting Things’ so check it out below:
History and Interesting Things:
There are only a couple of notable things about this game and they are:
The game was invented by Maureen Hiron in 1996. She is a very successful game inventor and know for inventing several other games including: 7 Ate 9, Continuo and Qwitch.
The word Cambio means exchange.
Like we say in the video we like this game, the design of our specific issue of it could be better but apart from that its a fun and fairly simple strategy game thats not too long to play but not so fast you miss what just happened.
Thud is the first Discworld board game! The first of four (true at time of publication) to be precise. It’s a product, initially, of the genius mind of Terry Pratchett (if you are unaware of Terry Pratchett check out this months update post for more details on him HERE!)
What’s in the Box:
This is the Terry Pratchett game with the fewest pieces.
A game board. With an Octagon of squares on it.
32 Dwarf pieces.
8 Troll pieces.
2 different thud stones.
An instruction booklet.
Playing the Game:
The objective of the game is to capture as many of the other players pieces, while losing as few of your own pieces as possible.
To see the rules in full, look here, but I’m going to give a brief overview anyway:
Dwarfs move first; they can move any amount they like, in any direction, so long as it’s in a straight line and there’s nothing in the way, like this:
Then the trolls move; they may only move one square at a time in any direction, as they are large and slow. Like this:
To take another piece a dwarf cannot just go to the same space as a Troll, he must be thrown at the Troll by a line of Dwarfs behind him. Like this:
The number of Dwarfs in the line determines how far the front Dwarf may be thrown.
Trolls take by moving next to Dwarfs, any Dwarfs adjacent to it are taken.
Trolls can also form lines like the Dwarfs and shove the front one of their line, depending on how many Trolls are lined up behind it.
The game is over either when one person loses all their pieces, or (much more likely) when you communally decide there’s no point continuing play because the trolls will never capture their Dwarfs and/or the Dwarfs don’t have enough pieces to form a line to take any Trolls.
Then you add up the amount of points that each player has left on the board; a Dwarf being worth 1 and Troll being worth 4 for their respective players. You then switch sides and play again, the total of both games determining the winner.
Now the strategy of the game is very interesting and also potentially very complex. Not being a master of it I’m just going to focus on one aspect we noticed to be rather crucial if you want to win as Dwarfs.
This is… FORMING A SQUARE… Like this:
This is super useful and basically the most practical (and likely) way to win as Dwarfs! By forming a square like this you make it very hard for the Trolls to approach you without being taken. Because any angle they approach you from is going to be on a line that you can throw on, and therefore take them.
To break your square they then have to sacrifice a Troll OR form a shoving line, which is easy to disrupt by adding additional dwarfs to your square to make the distances you can throw greater.
History and Interesting Facts:
Thud was first mention in Terry Pratchett’s book Going Postalit then became the focus of the following book Thud
If I’m understanding this correctly Trevor Truran created the game and it was published in 2002. Terry Pratchett, approving of the game, then worked the complete version of it into the Discworld universe, talking about it in Going Postal, published in 2004.
In Dwarfish it is called “Hnaflbaflwhiflsnifltafl“.
Which the beginning of the word bears an interesting, and ridiculous resemblances to the name of the Norse game Hnefatafl on which the game is based.
The release of the book Thud! lead to a special edition of the board game being released, the Koom Valley Edition, where the pieces were produced to look more like the cover art from the book.
The fictional creator of the game is Morose Stronginthearm who created the game for the Low King of the Dwarfs.
There is another way of playing the game which we have not covered in this post (and also I have to admit I haven’t played). This is Koom Valley Thud and is played with the same amount of pieces and the same board shape as normal Thud but the starting up is different, as are the rules.
Fictitiously the game of Thud was devised as an alternative to the fighting.
Fictitiously the game is supposed to be played once from each side to make up one match in order to teach the merit of seeing things from both sides. This also has real world application.
Also there are ways you can play online on the official site, to do that see here!
I like Thud, it’s a good game, it has a good concept and is quite well balanced once you’ve got the hang of being each side. However it just doesn’t grab me in the same way some of the other Discworld board games do. I don’t find it half as playable/re-playable. I’m not exactly sure why, because you would imagine it would appeal to someone who likes Chess… And it does… For maybe one game every 6 months.
While this months theme is “Old (usually) Wooden Games” OSKA doesn’t exactly fit that theme. It really all comes down to your idea of old, if you’re ten years old and 1995 seems like “FOREVER AGO” and “BEFORE I WAS EVEN BORN!” then OSKA is old, but if this is not the case then there’s every chance you remember 1995 and so it doesn’t seem that old. It does have an earlier history than its publication but that still only dates back to the 1950s, which some of you also may possibly be able to remember. See the history section for more information.
What’s in the Box:
In a normal OSKA box you find:
One wooden board
Eight pieces. Four red and four blue.
And it should have an instruction booklet to remove any ambiguity about the brief instructions on the back of the box, (see section “Playing the Game) but there isn’t one.
However our copy came from a charity shop (one of the best places to buy games if you were unaware of this). So in the box there was just the board with no pieces! So we borrowed four white and four brown pieces from a game of Draughts!
Playing the Game:
Normally here I would give a brief outline of the rules but as the rules to OSKA are already brief I have copied exactly what it says on the back of the box:
“OSKA is a speedy game for 2 players which is deceptively simple, using the Draughts (checkers) principle of diagonal movement and capture. BUT – keep well in mind the quirk that gives OSKA its bite. The winner is the player whose remaining pieces first reach the far side – the less pieces you have left, the easier this will be. The skill lies in when, or if, to capture, and when to force your opponent to capture you.”
The big problem with this set of rules is that there are more than one set of rules to Draughts. For example in English Draughts you can only take diagonally forwards (unless you are using a king) but inInternational Draughts it allows you to take diagonally backward. I have assumed that it meant the English Draughts; firstly because it initially refers to it as Draughts rather than Checkers and secondly, because OSKA was invented in England.
So let’s just clarify the rules:
You set up your four pieces on the back row like this:
We played white moves first but you could play either way, and if you’re playing with red and blue pieces you could play whoever is set up on the white section moves first.
You move one pieces diagonally, the the other player does the same.
You take a piece by jumping it, so this can only be done forwards and so long as the space the other side of it is empty. You do not HAVE to take as the rules state “when, or if, to capture”.
The winner is the first one to have ALL of their REMAINING pieces to the other side, so if all of their pieces are taken except one and they get that one to the other side before the other player gets all four of their pieces across, they win.
Rules We Assumed:
We rationally assumed that in the scenario that all your pieces are taken you’ve lost.
We also assumed that if you both ended up with the same number of pieces in the end zone at the same time it was a draw. This CAN occur if one player while moving its last (or only piece) into the end zone takes the other players only piece that’s not in the end zone. However this is unlikely to occur, as in that scenario you can choose to move into the end zone without taking.
We also assumed that if a similar scenario occurred and one person had more pieces than the other in the end zone they won.
A Little Help:
Just to help we filmed a video of the game play of OSKA to help clarify. Here it is! Our very first video blog… Sort of. Our real video blogs will happen when we get a much better camera but it’s a start!
Now while the game is simple (once you’ve clarified the rules) and fast, there’s a lot that could be said about the strategy. For starters you cannot afford to make mistakes, I know this can be said for almost all games but one mistake in OSKA and the other person most often enters a state where they can’t be beaten because all series of moves that follow result in their victory!
The key to the game, I believe, lies in forcing the other person to take you. You can create a series of plays where they have no option but to take you because they have no other available moves. And once you start to lose pieces you have an easier job than they do as you have less pieces to get across the board.
I could go on about strategy and start drawing diagrams and things of this nature (as that how “into” this game I have got, a game that less than a month ago I was unaware existed). But I will spare you all, however, in the future I may write a specific post on the dynamics and maths of the game, which everyone can feel free not to read.
History and Interesting Facts:
Unfortunately due to the obscurity of this game the history and fasts that are about to follow are mostly off the back of the box as there’s not much more information on the game out there. Which is a shame as it’s a good game.
The game was originally devised by Bryn Jones in the 1950s.
Bryn Jones was a miner so the game was originally played scratched into the dust on the floor of a mine at Lancashire Coalfields to pass time at breaks.
Woodward Creations annotated the rules and refined it into the more presentable format you find it in now.
It can now be found as part of The Inventors Collection which is a gathering of games and puzzles from the worlds top game inventors.
The game is made of eco-friendly wood.
It can be considered as part of the Draughts family of games.
Not really a surprise if you’ve read the post above, but the rules are ambiguous which unfortunately takes away from a very good and very fast game.
This may come as little surprise to you (if you have read the above), I like this game! I’m a huge fan of Chess (as most sane people are) and similarly simplistic but complex at the same time strategy games make me happy. However as far as I’m aware there is no game as perfect as Chess and probably never will be. But OSKA falls into the category of games that are in the right ball park when it comes to your basic strategy game. I would even proclaim that it has a one up on Draughts as I maintain Draughts is too large and long a game to have such simplicity, in short it can become boring, which is why to every 100 Chess matches I have played I’ve probably only played half a Draughts game. This is where OSKA hits the nail on the head, its taken the same idea as Draughts and made it small, fast and above all FUN!
The biggest flaw I find with this game is the ambiguity of the rules and their phrasing. I am slightly ashamed to admit that we played the game wrong in two different ways before finally re-re-re-reading the paragraph on the back of the box and breaking it down to create clarity. First time round we missed the word “remainder” so we where playing first one to get one piece across…This version of the game is ridiculously flawed because the person who moves first (providing they’re not an idiot) will ALWAYS win! We also played that you HAVE to capture if you can capture and even after we started paying attention to the “remaining pieces” section of the rules we still failed to notice the “when, or if, to capture” phrase that implies you do not HAVE to capture. Anyway once we had figured it all out this game is a 4 out of 5 however the amount of time we wasted playing it wrong reduces it to a 3 out 5 (hence the top scoring). It could be argued that us playing it wrong is our own fault but I maintain the rules are needlessly ambiguous and if you don’t know what Draughts is they’re impossible to follow!
Additionally if anyone would like to buy the game check out HERE! – keep in mind this link is to an eBay sale so it won’t always be valid but it’s valid at the time of publication and will hopefully either be updated or removed when it stops being valid.
Traditionally our Christmas’ are rather game orientated, along with a classic Christmas film in the evening and usually the Dr Who Christmas episode! Unsurprisingly our parents are no strangers to the odd board game and before we even started actively collecting board games it was safe to say we had somewhere between 30 – 40 games in our house, just because that’s the way life was. Now with our active collection and recent explosion of board games we probably have somewhere close to 100 games in the house… Which is awesome (obviously). Christmas leant a hand in that; between the two of us we got 12 games (not all exactly board games) to add to the collection here’s a picture:
So these are all the games we received for Christmas! They made us SUPER happy! Obviously not all of them will feature on the blog, we’re hardly going to blog about table football, for example, but it did make the picture look cool! This is the list of what we got (from left to right):
So we thought we’d share a touch of our Gaming Christmas Day with you through some pictures as a final farewell to our favourite holiday of the year!
Note that Aunt Jean does not feature in any of these pictures… She believes cameras are the work of the devil! They steal your soul she says! If this is true Kim Kardashian is truly Soulless!
Babies Can Play Too:
OH MY GOD JUST GET ON WITH IT:
…It Was Much More Like This:
52 Card Pick Up:
Last, and Apparently Worst, Game of The Day:
To End At The End Would Seem To Be The Right Place To End:
That brings me to the end of our Christmas day and the end of this post. Other games were played and much fun was had, and I hope your Christmas was just as good. This post was obviously meant to go up earlier but I kept forgetting about it!
As a belated Christmas present… Or a really, really early one you should like us on facebook HERE!
Shove Ha’penny: Number of Players: 2/4 Year of Publication: Unknown
Rebound: Number of Players: 2/4 Year of Publication: 1971
Sliding on down – Shove Ha’penny/Rebound:
Both Shove Ha’pennyand Reboundare easy to learn, quick games. Rebound is included in this post, despite the fact that it’s not a wooden game, because it’s the game Shove Ha’penny developed into in the late 20th century.
What’s in the Box:
Well, in the box for Shove Ha’penny there’s a large-ish wooden board, an instructions card, and five half penny coins.
In the box for Rebound there’s a large plastic board, two elastic bands and eight (or sixteen in our case) ball bearings with coloured rings around them.
Playing the Game:
The objective of Shove Ha’penny is to be the first player to shove three coins into the same scoring area. In Rebound it’s to be the first player to score 500 points.
Players take it in turns to shove all five coins into the scoring areas.
You must not touch the board with the hand you aren’t using to move the coins, if you do, you score zero for that round.
At the end of your turn you must let the other player remove the coins from the board, if you take them, your score for that round isn’t counted.
If a coin ends up off the board for any reason during your turn, that coin cannot be replayed and doesn’t count towards your score.
Any coin that finishes outside the scoring area in any way is not counted and cannot be replayed.
Coins on the line (even the tiniest bit) don’t count only coins between the two area lines count.
Players choose a colour and take the four ball bearings with their colour ring around them.
The game progresses in rounds, players take it in turns to play one of their ball bearings, they do this until they’ve played all four of them, then the round is over, and the points are scored.
Any ball bearing that leaves the board is not counted and cannot be replayed, the same applies to a ball that passes out the other side of the scoring area into the trench space at the end of the board.
Points are only scored when a ball is entirely in a zone if any part of it is in a lower zone it scores the lower (or no, if its hanging into the no score zone) points. If ball is still physically on the board and not in the pit is accepted as 100 point score.
As far as strategy goes, there isn’t much that can be applied for these games, apart from being able to gauge well how much force is needed to get your pieces into their optimum positions. So basically having steady hands and a good gauge of force. It takes a few play of the game to get the idea of how much force you need and even after that some how your mind just keep forgetting.
History and Interesting Facts:
It’s the smaller offspring of a game called Shovel Boardand was played in taverns as far back as the 15th century.
If a player managed to shove three coins into one “bed” or scoring area in a turn, he has scored a “sergeant”, if he manages to get all five coins into one bed, he has scored a “sergeant-major” or a “gold-watch”.
Substances can be added to the board to lubricate it, any of the following have been commonly used; French chalk, black lead, beer, paraffin and petrol (although the latter two of these do make the game rather more combustible).
Officially, one side of the coins used are supposed to be smoothed flat, this should be tails side, as, in England, it’s illegal to deface a picture of monarch.
Because a coin only scores if it’s clearly between two of the scoring lines, the more expensive Shove Ha’penny boards had rails in the grooves of the lines that could be lifted out to determine if a coin scored or not. If the coin moved when the rail was removed, it scored nothing.
Around Oxford, a variation of the game called “Progressive” is played, in which, a player is allowed to retrieve and replay any coins that score. Apparently with more skilled players this can result in the game ending before the second player’s had a chance to shove at all. I imagine this to be a depressing state of things if you lose the toss and are playing second.
In Stamford, locals organize a “world championship” for the game Push-Penny which is much the same as Shove Ha’penny and this takes place during the Stamford Festival, at the end of June/start of July every year.
We’ve posted these games together because they’re very similar, Rebound just appears to a be a more modern version of Shove Ha’penny, however, I can’t (although my search wasn’t very in-depth or long) actually find any documents that link the two games. So there you go. 🙂
Both these games are good fun for two people, and are very easy to learn and play. however, of the two, I would say that I enjoy Rebound more, although Shove Ha’penny may well require more actual skill, as you’ve less space to push down, and are playing with pieces that’re less naturally inclined to slide. I recommend both, especially as games suitable for playing with children of any age!
For further reading, and a little more detail on my history points, go here.
Solitaire is an interesting game and the first game to be officially reviewed in 2014! Solitaire is an old (usually wooden) game, so it fits our theme for this month. This is the first post with our new standardized format so any feed back would be appreciated, let us know if there’s anything we are missing or if anything is too much.
What’s in the Box:
Solitaire only consists of two things:
1) A board with 33 holes or groves in it.
2) 32 pieces – sometimes pegs and sometime marbles – sometimes 33 pieces are included so you remove one before playing.
Playing the Game:
The aim of the game is to remove all of the other pieces leaving just one in the central hole that is originally left empty.
The board is set out with 32 pieces leaving a gap in the middle.
You move to take pieces by jumping over them.
Taking can only be done horizontally or vertically NOT diagonally.
You win if you manage to remove all pieces and are left with one pieces in the central slot.
You lose if you are left with one or more pieces not in the central slot and you cannot make any more moves.
While this game has a very simple set of rules and is fairly easy to understand mastering it is a whole other matter! While I consider myself somewhat intelligent (and also modest) I have played this game through 30 or so times and still failed to win! I always end up in situations like this:
I’m getting closer but I still feel quite far way. As far as I can see it makes sense to clear the board systematically and try very hard to not leave any pieces out on the edges by themselves. Of course you could always cheat and watch this video:
I have refused to watch it as I want to solve the game myself and will not be helped by Youtube! Additionally, once you’ve committed to memory how to beat the game it’s a bit of a one trick wonder as it has no replay-ability because you will always be able to beat it!
History and Interesting Facts:
The aim of this is not to give you a full history lesson on the game – that would be long and boring! But just a quick ten bullets to give you a rough idea of the games history and cultural relevance as well as some interesting facts about it.
The earliest known reference to the game is a French engraving of Anne de Rohan-Chabot, pictured with the game, made in 1697. As seen here:
The first literary reference made to it is in a French magazine from the same year.
The Solitaire featured in these references, however, is not the same as the Solitaire featured in this post. There are two common/traditional versions of the game. The one featured in this post is the English version (which is fitting as we are in England) the one originally featured in the engraving is know as the European version. If you look at the engraving shown above you will see the board has four more holes that occur in the inside corners of the board to give it a more rounded shape. Additionally you do not traditionally start this game by leaving the middle hole empty but rather one offset towards the top of the board.
There are also a fair few other versions of the game including a version made by J. C. Wiegleb in 1779 in German that has 47 holes and is effectively an extended version of the English version.
There are also other ways of playing it on the same board, whether you’re using the English board, European board or any other. Including a version where your starting and finishing slot is in the bottom right corner. To take a look at some of these different versions and play them (and even see solutions to them) see HERE!
The shortest solution to the English version of the game was found by Ernest Bergholt in 1912 and was proven to be the shortest by John Beasley in 1964. This solution in full detail can be viewed HERE, but I challenge you to find it yourself first, in fact I will give £100 to the person who can irrefutably prove that they found the shortest solution to the game without any assistance!
While there is only one shortest solution to the English version of the game there are three shortest solutions to the European version of the game that are all very different from each other but result in the same amount of moves made. To read about them in detail see HERE!
A much thorougher analysis of the mathematics of the game(s) is provided in the book Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays – Volume 1which on the extreme off chance anyone is interested in can be bought HERE and viewed as a pdf HERE (it’s discussed in chapter 23 under the name Peg Solitaire).
The game is historically called Solo Noble or Peg Solitaire, however in the UK it is usually just referred to as Solitaire as the card game of the same name(s) is commonly known as Patience.
Very interestingly there are 577,116,156,815,309,849,672 different sequences to the English version of the game (being how many different orders of things that can happen). From this set of sequences there are 40,861,647,040,079,968 different solutions (some are simply reflection and rotations of others). To see this maths in more detail see HERE!
The thing I find most interesting about this game is your could vary it almost indefinitely and it would still be a playable and difficult problem, it is rare that you find a board game that is so interchangeable but still maintains its fundamental characteristics. It also stands as a classic mathematical/logic problem that is quite challenging to initially complete.
While it is fun and simple it is also quite limited in the sense that is is simple. You can furiously try for 40 minutes to try and figure out a solution and then lose interest completely because you feel like you’re just repeating the same thing again and again and never getting closer to your goal. So it might be a steer clear for those of you who are more OCD about things as you may never be able to put it down until you find the solution. However if you’re not OCD then definitely give it and play! I challenge you to find the solution without help!
…A Twelve-Player Game and I Introduced Him to Some Men in White Coats! – Boggle…A Million Points if You can Score a Twelve Letter Word in It.
Boggle is a brilliant quick game for any number of players, all you need is a piece of paper and pencil to play. Before you start players must decide on the number of rounds that are going to be played, and the time allowance for each round. The timer that comes with the game is two minutes, and, although the timer for our copy doesn’t work properly any more, we still play to that, using someone’s phone as a timer. However, if you also have to do this, having the vibrate function on when you set the timer is a bad idea, as we found out when playing with Aunt Jean. The first time the timer went off and started vibrating on the table, it made such a strange sound that I was almost responsible for giving her a heart attack!
To play, one player shakes up the cube containing the dice, until they’re all flat, showing one face up. Then another player flips (or starts) the timer, and you have two minutes to make as many words as possible from the letters you can see. These words must be at least three letters long, and the letters must be connected either horizontally, vertically or diagonally. You cannot use the same letter twice in one word. When the timer goes off, one player reads out their list of words, any word that any of the other players has also written down is crossed off and doesn’t get you any points. When everyone’s checked their lists, you score. Three and four letter words are worth 1 point each, any word with more letters is given one extra point for each subsequent letter, i.e. 5 letters = 2 points etc.
After you’ve played through the appointed number of rounds the player with the most points overall wins.
A great game for fans of Scrabble or similar games, not so much fun for dyslexics (like Dave) who get overexcited when they score two points in a round, mostly with three letter words. However, it’s a fantastic game because it can be played super-quickly with any number of people, you could challenge yourself and whoever you’re playing with to find the longest or silliest words possible, making it a superb game for any occasion!
Happy Twelfth and last day of Christmas and a Happy Epiphany too … For those who celebrate that kind of thing!
…An Eleven-Player Game and The Suggestion That I Make More Friends – Eleven Pictionarys Drawing!
Pictionary is supposed to be played on teams of two (or four), but eleven is an incredibly hard number to find a game for, I mean, Aunt Jean may be willing to make up your 12th player, but given her tendency to shout things out in a slightly turrets-y way you may want to direct her to some other occupation whilst you’re playing. For her own good . So, just pretend that eleven is the optimum number for this game, and all will be well! The objective of the game is to advance round the board by guessing the words that the other teams are drawing out on their turns. At the start of the game, each team is given a pad of paper, a pencil, a category card and a playing piece. Each playing piece is placed on the start square on the board. Each team then elects one player to be their picturist. It’s this player who will draw out clues for the other teams for the rest of the game. Then each team rolls the die, highest roll selects the first first card. The first word sketched is an All Play sketch, meaning that all teams can guess. At the start of the game, the die is not rolled to advance. There are five different categories, as follows; All Play – this can be any word or expression and all teams participate, Difficult – challenging words, Action – verb, things that can be performed, Person/Place/Animal – self explanatory, proper names can be included and Object – noun, things that can be touched or seen.
To play, the starting picturist selects a word card from the front of the deck the word that matching the coloured square that the playing pieces is on is the one being described. The picturist is allowed five seconds to examine the word, then the timer is turned and the picturist begins sketching. The other team(s) can then begin guessing, this continues until the word is guessed or the time runs out. If the word is guessed the team then continues by rolling the die and advancing the appropriate number of squares, they then select the next card and picturist. If the word is not guessed, play then continues clockwise, the next team then begins by drawing a new card not rolling the die.
The first team to land on the Finish square and guess the word correctly, wins.
So describing the rules may have been a little lengthy, but it’s actually a very simple game. It’s good fun with a small or large group of people, and a fantastic family game, whether being played for a challenge, or just for a few laughs as we all enjoy our different (and sometimes dubious in my case) artistic abilities. This game can be a fantastically relaxed way to end an evening, or it can be a creative challenge for younger kids! it’s good for everyone old enough to talk (well, possibly not quite) and is a timeless classic for family time. Appropriate for this time of year, no?
Creator(s): Again, the designer is unknown, but Néstor Romeral Andrés was the artist for the modern board
It gets to be big and bold and exclamation marked in this sub-heading because it’s the first game we’ve managed to cross off our list of Games We Want, which is a noteworthy achievement in the limited history of this blog. Fanorona is also notable as having been bought to the attention of many through the PS3 and Xbox 360 game Assassins Creed III where you can play it as a mini game within the game along withNine, Six, Three and Twelve Mens Morris.
Fanorona is currently down as the quickest game I’ve ever played, and that’s not only because I’m terrible at it (but better than my brother at the moment). It’s for two players and played on a rectangular board.
History and Interesting Things:
This is where I organize all the interesting stuff I found out about Fanorona, if you don’t want to read about the history of the game, skip down a bit and see more pictures of us playing and a bit about the rules and how to move!
10 Things I Found Most Intriguing:
Fanorona is a strategy game, but, like Go, it’s considered a one-off. Not part of any other family of games.
It is believed that it was developed from the game Alquerque, which is most commonly played in Arab countries and may date back more than 3,000 years.
Fanorona comes in three varieties – Fanoron-Telo which appears to be identical to Three Mans Morris (another on the list of Games We Want) – Fanoron-Dimyand the board for which is identical to Alquerque – and Fanoron-Tsivy, more commonly known as Fanorona and the most well-known version of the game.
It’s the national game of Madagascar and is so important there that they have a National Committee for the Coordination of Fanorona and an International Fanorona Society.
The only recurrent story I can find involving Fanorona is the following about a King called Ralombo. He was sick and trying to decide what would happen to his Kingdom when he died, he did not want to divide the Kingdom between his two sons, so he sent for both of them. He reasoned that the son who arrived first was the most loyal to him and should therefore inherit the Kingdom. His oldest son was engaged in a game of Fanorona when the messenger came and was in a situation called telo noho dimy, a very difficult situation involving three pieces against eight. He was so absorbed in the game that he sent the Kings messenger away. He did not arrive at the castle until the following day, by which time his younger brother had already inherited the throne.
I reach point six and find that, given the limited history that is known about Fanorona, I have nothing left to write, so pretend that this is ten points, and keep reading to find out about the rules and game play!!
Black and white playing pieces are used for this game, they are set up as shown in the picture below. There is one space left empty in the middle of the board, which allows white to make its first move. These pieces we stole from a copy of Reversi (more commonly know as Othello) to go with our home made board.
Anyone who’s familiar with Draughts will understand when I say that the game progresses quickly due to the compulsory taking rule. Also like Draughts, taking moves can be linked. A player can continue to take pieces with the piece they initially moved that turn for as long as there are legal moves available. The nature of the game is sacrificial, for the game to progress each player must lose a large number of their pieces.
To take a piece in Fanorona a player must move one of their pieces either towards or away from the piece(s) they wish to take on a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line. The player then removes the pieces they have taken on that line up to the point where there is a gap between pieces.
Initially the game should progress very quickly, with each player taking multiple pieces each turn. When the board begins to empty, the rate of game play should slow as each player will have more options to choose from and cannot afford to be reckless with their remaining pieces.
The objective of the game is to either eliminate your opponents pieces from the board or force them into a situation where they cannot move. If either of these situations arises you win the game. If you reach a point where neither player can move or take another players piece the game comes to a draw.
Once you’ve played maybe, twice, the game becomes easy and can be played in well under 20 minutes. After grasping the initial rules about moving and taking it is then only strategy that remains to be developed by anyone wishing to play regularly.
There will be another Fanarona post going up in the next few days where my brother shows you how he made the board and how you can make your own if you like. Considering that buying copies of this game appears to be rather expensive.
For anyone interested, I read about the history of the game here.