Thud

2.5 - 5

Number of Players: 2

Year of Publication: 2002

Creator(s): Trevor Truran – Inspired by the books of Terry Pratchett

Thump…Sorry I mean Thud!

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.

The Stuff.
The Stuff.
  1. A game board. With an Octagon of squares on it.
  2. 32 Dwarf pieces.
  3. 8 Troll pieces.
  4. 2 different thud stones.
  5. 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:

IMG_0459
The first Dwarf move.

Then the trolls move; they may only move one square at a time in any direction, as they are large and slow. Like this:

First Troll move.
First Troll move.

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:

Each arrow shows formed lines ready to throw the front Dwarf. The lines also apply on the diagonals and horizontals but it just looked like a mess if I drew that many lines.
Each arrow shows formed lines ready to throw the front Dwarf. The lines also apply on the diagonals and horizontals but it just looked like a mess if I drew that many lines.

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.

So all of the Dwarves marked with red crosses would be taken.
So all of the Dwarfs marked with red crosses would be 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 there Dwarfs and/or the Dwarfs don’t have enough pieces to form a line to take any Trolls.

Like this.
Like this.

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.

Strategy:

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:

IMG_0466This 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:

  1. Thud was first mention in Terry Pratchett’s book Going Postal it then became the focus of the following book Thud
  2. The origin of the game is the Battle of Koom Valley, which it supposedly represents.
  3. 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.
  4. In Dwarfish it is called “Hnaflbaflwhiflsnifltafl“.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. The fictional creator of the game is Morose Stronginthearm who created the game for the Low King of the Dwarfs.
  8. 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.
  9. Fictitiously the game of Thud was devised as an alternative to the fighting.
  10. 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.

To read more on the fictitious history see here. Where Terry Pratchett himself has written it up on the official Thud site.

Also there are ways you can play online on the official site, to do that see here!

To Conclude:

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.

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OSKA

 

4 - 5 Strike Thro

3 - 5

Number of Players: 2

Year of Publication: 1995

Creator(s): Bryn Jones and Michael Woodward Creations (Designers), artists are unknown

Steven…Sorry, I Mean OSKA:

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.

Our copy of OSKA with borrowed Pieces.
Our copy of OSKA using borrowed pieces.

What’s in the Box:

A picture lovingly borrowed from www.boardgamegeek.com just to show you what a real complete copy would look like.
A picture lovingly borrowed from www.boardgamegeek.com just to show you what a real complete copy would look like.

In a normal OSKA box you find:

  1. One wooden board
  2. Eight pieces. Four red and four blue.
  3. 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 in International 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:
  1. You set up your four pieces on the back row like this:

    Start Positions!
    Start Positions!
  2. 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.
  3. You move one pieces diagonally, the the other player does the same.

    The Game after one move each.
    The Game after one move each.
  4. 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”.
  5. 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.

    Winning!
    Winning!
Rules We Assumed:
  1. We rationally assumed that in the scenario that all your pieces are taken you’ve lost.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

Strategy:

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.

  1.  The game was originally devised by Bryn Jones in the 1950s.
  2. 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.
  3. In the early 1990s Bryn brought the game to Michael Woodward Creations.
  4. Woodward Creations annotated the rules and refined it into the more presentable format you find it in now.
  5. 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.
  6. The game is made of eco-friendly wood.
  7. It can be considered as part of the Draughts family of games.
  8. 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.

To Conclude:

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.

Solitaire

3 - 5

Number of Players: 1

Year publication: 1697

Creator(s): Unknown

How to Play With Yourself – Solitaire:

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.

The game.
The game.

What’s in the Box:

the board and peices
The board and pieces separately.

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 Rules:
  1. The board is set out with 32 pieces leaving a gap in the middle.
  2. You move to take pieces by jumping over them.
  3. Taking can only be done horizontally or vertically NOT diagonally.
  4. You win if you manage to remove all pieces and are left with one pieces in the central slot.
  5. You lose if you are left with one or more pieces not in the central slot and you cannot make any more moves.
Win
WINNING! (I did not actually win this I just set the board up like this to take this picture)
Strategy:

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:

fail
FAIL!

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.

  1. 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:

    Borrowed lovingly from Wikipedia!
    Borrowed lovingly from Wikipedia!
  2. The first literary reference made to it is in a French magazine from the same year.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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!
  7. 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!
  8. A much thorougher analysis of the mathematics of the game(s)  is provided in the book Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays – Volume 1 which 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).
  9. 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.
  10. 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!

To Conclude:

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!

Quick Games – Reversi, also known as, Othello!

4 - 5

Number of Players: 2

Year of Publication: 1880

Creator(s): John W. MollettLewis Waterman (Designers) and Kinetic (Artist)

Othello is a great game; for anyone that knows it, they’ll know how much fun it is, and for anyone who doesn’t, it’s quick and easy to learn and it keeps you on your toes as the table can turn at literally any point in the game. You can be winning right up until the last few pieces are laid and then find yourself the loser!

It’s definitely not as quick as Fanarona, but can still easily be played in less than half an hour. The pictures in this post are larger than they have been in previous posts, due to the shape of the board and the angle that we had the camera at. There are also less photos, as the game is not very complicated and we felt that filling the post with pictures would just be throwing images at you that you didn’t need, or, probably, want.

Othello starting position
Othello starting position

History and Things:

  1. The game was invented at the end of the 19th century; both Lewis Waterman and John W. Mollett (two Englishmen) claimed to be the inventors of the game.
  2. The first ever versions of the game were produced in 1882 by Waterman and Mollett themselves.
  3. It was patented in 1888 and published under the name Reversi in 1898.
  4. Reversi was based on a game invented by Mollett in 1870 called The Game of Annexation (or Annex for short), the only known difference between this game and Reversi is that Annex is played on a board shaped like a cross. So instead of the 8×8 – essentially a chess board – that Reversi/Othello is played on Annex was played on an 10×4 cross.
  5. In 1880, in a publication of The Queen, Waterman proposed a new version of Annex, called Reversi, to be played on a conventional Chess Board, and named himself inventor, he registered the name in 1887.
  6. In 1886 Mollett published the same game with the name Annex, a game of reverses. Mollett was initially not allowed to use the word ‘reverses’, so he appealed, won and the word ‘Reversi’ was freed.
  7. Whilst the Waterman release of Reversi was not sold with a board – the box stated that you had to play it on a chess board – the Mollett version was sold with a cheap paper 8×8 board and carried the Annex, or Annexation name.
  8. From reading all this it’s clear that Mollett was the primary creator of the game, he was responsible for the original rules and game pieces, where Waterman is responsible for the board shape, size, and the name Reversi.
  9. Jumping forward almost 100 years to 1971. Goro Hasegawa reinvented the game, naming it Othello with the rule set currently used on the international tournament stage; the Japanese games company Tsukada Original published it.
  10. (I managed to make ten points this time!!)
    Othello was chosen as a name for many reasons – all of them deriving from Shakespeare’s play. I’ve put a few in here; Iago makes a direct reference to how he is “two faced” in the play, which accounts for the double-sided black-and-white playing pieces which are continually flipped throughout the game. There is also the conflict between black Othello and Desdemona who is white to be considered. For those who have an interest in Shakespeare, the similarities continue – reread Othello and see how many you can find!

Game Play!
In Othello players take it in turns to place pieces and black always moves first. When placing pieces you must be able to “take” the other players pieces. To take pieces you must be able to trap their pieces between two of your own on a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line, doing this means that you flip all the pieces on that line to your colour. there are occasions when you can place a piece that completes two or more lines, this means you can flip every piece of the other colour that is on a line you’ve just created.

If you cannot place a piece anywhere that allows you to take, or flip, your opponents pieces, you forfeit your turn and your opponent continues to place pieces until a move becomes available to you.

Once all the pieces have been played, each player counts how many of their colour is on the board. The player with the highest number of their colour showing wins. If you have exactly the same number of pieces showing your colour on the board (32), “perfect play” is reached. This implies that the players are evenly matched.

There are some interesting strategies that can be played in Othello, however, the one I found most intriguing was that an experienced player, when teaching/playing with a less experienced player, can add a handicap into the game. As the four corners are the strongest positions to hold on the board, it can be played that the more experienced player allows the game to start with the corners already having pieces of their opponents colour in them. This gives a huge advantage as pieces in the corners cannot be flipped as it is impossible to place a piece on the other side of them to create the necessary line. In this same way, pieces placed right on the edges of the board are harder to take as there is only one line that they can be flipped on.

Below is a photographic sequence of moves that gives an idea of how pieces are flipping in the progress of the game.

A sequence of moves in Orthello
A sequence of moves in Othello

Differences between Othello and Reversi: (thought to exist in the games before 1871)

  1. Othello starts from a fixed position. In Reversi players take it in turns to place their pieces on the central four squares, this allows for two possible starting positions. This difference is considered unimportant and each starting formation can lead to a draw in perfect play.
  2. In Othello, if a player cannot place a pieces that flips one of their opponents pieces they must pass, their opponent then continues to place pieces until either they cannot place or until another move becomes available to you. In Reversi, a player can choose to pass. This can be tactical as it can force your opponent to pass at a more crucial moment of the game because you have more pieces left. This could have huge tactical and strategic advantages or disadvantages for each player.
  3. This last difference has speculation as to whether it actually existed or not, but some say that in Reversi originally players could place pieces adjacent to their own pieces without creating a line through which their opponents discs were flipped. This rule, if it existed at all, would make the two games completely different, and also lower the difficultly level of the game considerably.
Close to the finish
Close to the finish (this game actually came to perfect play at the end, however we don’t have a picture as we use my brother’s phone camera for these photos, and he was on the phone when the game ended.)

For points of interest, I read about the history of Othello/Reversi here, although some of the information was questionable.
If anyone reading this sees anything that they know is wrong, don’t hesitate to leave me a message telling me what my mistake was and I’ll endeavour to correct it as soon as possible! I struggled a little with this post as there was a lot of information about the game to go through and there were discrepancies between each source I read.

Definitely a Quick One! – Fanorona! (pronounced Fa-noorn)

3 - 5

Number of Players: 2

Year of Publication: 1680

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 with Nine, 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.

Our home made Fanorona board. Made on a chopping board using a soldering iron to brand.
Our home made Fanorona board. Made on a chopping board using a soldering iron to brand the markings into the wood.

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:

  1. Fanorona is a strategy game, but, like Go, it’s considered a one-off. Not part of any other family of games.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!!

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.

The starting set up of Fanorona on or home made board.
The starting set up of Fanorona on our home made board using Othello pieces.

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.

The starting position of a taking move.
The starting position of a taking move.

 

The white piece then moves forward to take the black piece in front of it
The white piece then moves forward to take the black piece in front of it.
It then moves to the left to take the line it moves away from and that is the end of its move chain.
It then moves to the left to take the line it moves away from and that is the end of its move chain.

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 remaining pieces on the board after only a few minutes of play.
The remaining pieces on the board after only a few minutes of play.

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.

The game close to the end as black finds itself backed into a corner.
The game close to the end as black finds itself backed into a corner.
White is the winner having removed all of the black pieces from the board.
White is the winner having removed all of the black pieces from the board.

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.