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Kriegsspiel

Kriegsspiel is a highly accurate game of war, created by a Prussian general.

This game not only has its place in gaming history as the forerunner to modern games like Battlefield or Warhammer, but has also lead historians to the exact methods used during Prussian Warfare in the Napoleonic period.

Photo by Brett Bayley

The game is directed by a combination of strategy and dice, directing pieces representing all the parts of the army during the time period. In 1862 (years after it was released in 1824) there was an update to accommodate for improved weaponry and transportation, including both railroads and telegraphs.

The base of many modern games, the hit point (HP), can be seen here, in the “points” that each piece is worth. The number of points relates to the number of hits each unit can take before it gets destroyed.

The game requires real-life topographical maps (a scale of 1:8000), and the tactics used reflect real-life. The use of the map itself was a show of printing and map-making technology created in the era, and with it’s rules, was used by the Prussian army as a method to teach tactics.

The goal of the game is actually determined by an umpire. the umpire also interprets the written orders (moves) of the two armies (teams of players) and is the one to move the pieces. The size of the teams is recommended to be 4-6 players each.

This does give me memories of watching a few friends of mine play Warhammer. Cheerful, pre-Covid times at game club, with the swell of voices chatting over all kinds of games.

by Abby Zarakovich

Jury Box

For a relatively simple game, Jury box (published in 1936 by Parker Brothers) has earned itself a spot in game history.

It’s a game for any number of players, and is relatively simple. You (and your fellow players) act as jury to the cases provided in the box. There is photo evidence, an illustrated case file, and what the “correct” answer.

In play, after the case is read by a selected player, the players write their verdict and idea of what happened: points are awarded to those with the correct verdict, and to those whose solution behind what happened comes closest. The person with the most points after all the cases are complete wins.

Jury Box is the precursor to modern variations of LARP and murder mystery games.

The action of pretending to be a person, and the whodunnit nature of the game is what lead to the evolution of games like Clue and such.

Ancient Board Games: Chaturanga

History:

This game from 6th century India is believed to be the ancestor of chess and other games (worldwide!) like it.

There are a few things that set Chaturanga aside from modern chess. For one thing, unlike modern chess, this game can be played with up to 4 players. In 750 CE, this version of chess reached China, and by the 11th century it had come to Japan and Korea. It went through Persia and into Europe around the same time.

The theory of the game’s spread revolves around the Silk road, an ancient trade route spanning from Italy in Europe to Xian in China. This trade route moves through land and sea, and facilitated trade of all kinds.

It’s due to the silk road that it can be hard to determine the origins of chess, as pieces simular to what we know have been found all over 3 different continents.

Like other ancient games, some of the rules are up to speculation.

What we know about the rules and play:

Of the pieces that we know of today, the rook, knight, pawn and king move the same. However, The kings do not face each other (aren’t in the same column), and the pawns don’t have the option to move 2 spaces on their first move.

The Queen was the Counselor, and could only move 1 square diagonally. The Bishop was the Elephant, and could only move 2 spaces diagonally.

One of the theorized rules is that the pawn, instead of automatically becoming the Queen/Counselor, would actually become the piece that occupied that square in the beginning.

Chaturanga was won by what we know as checkmate, or by eliminating all pieces except the king.

Castling and En-passant weren’t introduced until the 15th century, and the checkerboard pattern we associate with Chess was only introduced as decoration around the year 1000.

What I found to be interesting, was that in the 4 player version of Chaturanga, what piece you played was determined by dice throw, which completely change the flow of the game. The dice is a D4, and the sides are as follows: The Raja (king) and pawn, the knight, the elephant (bishop), and the boat (rook). The four player, as you can see, does not include the Counselor.

Where to play?

You can buy physical boards around the internet, or just use a regular chess set, and modify the rules.

You can play online here, but you have to sign up, and there are a few apps that allow multiplayer versions of the game.

Castle Flipper

Castle Flipper is a Building and Decorating Simulator for medieval castles!

This game isn’t just castles, either: it also includes the surrounding land, and ¬†sheds, barns, huts, houses, mansions, palaces and even pirate ships!

This game takes place in the 16th and 17th centuries, so in addition to the usual Medieval buildings, you will also find some Baroque and Renaissance elements that add variety to the gameplay and give you more options for interior decoration.

To be released May 27, 2021 on Steam, Castle flipper looks to be a fun simulator, including both rampant destruction and detailed creation.

It has lovingly rendered wooden details, and goes from the basics of building (frames and pillars) to the furniture and placement of decorative elements like suits of armor and fur rugs.

Images from their STEAM site

Ancient Board Games: Royal Game of Ur

A game like this, from 2600 BC, is full of intrigue. This delicately carved block of stone, with flowers and markings etched into the rock, sings to played again.

A 4×3 board is connected to a 2×6 board with 2 squares. There are 4 d4’s, with dots on 3 of the points. And there are 7 Tokens per player, with one blank side, and one side with 5 dots

We have the board, the dice the pieces, and the question remains: how do we play it?

Rules have been found for advanced versions of the Royal Game of Ur: the sweet irony of which is that the base rules are speculation. All we know for sure about the base game is some of the markings’ meanings, and that the goal is to get all your pieces across the board. Even the exact route is unknown.

Because of that, there are a few different sets of rules floating around the internet.

One of several points of argument is whether rolling a Zero on the dice counts as a zero, a four-space movement, or as a “roll again”.

Another point of argument is when/how pieces may be moved onto the board. On Some of the boards, the pieces are numbered, and one guess is that you must roll that exact number to play them. Other rules have suggested that you have to roll a certain number (either 4 or 0) to bring out any piece, and some discard that notion entirely; you can bring a piece onto the board at anytime.

I suppose that if you wish to play it, it’s like any game of UNO: the rules are decided by players agreeing (or acquiescing) to them.