Board game

A board game is any game played on a board (that is, a premarked surface) with counters or pieces that are moved across the board. Simple board games are often seen as ideal "family entertainment" as they can provide entertainment for all ages. Some board games, such as Chess, Oware, or Go, have intense strategic value and have become lasting classics.

There are many different types and classifications of board games. Some games are simplified simulations of real life. These are popular for they can intermingle make-believe and role playing along with the game. Popular games of this type include Monopoly, which is a rough simulation of the real estate market; Cluedo/Clue, which is based upon a murder mystery; and Risk, which is one of the best known of thousands of games attempting to simulate warfare and geo-politics.

Other games only loosely, or do not at all, attempt to imitate reality. These include abstract strategy games like chess and checkers, word games, such as Scrabble, and trivia games, such as Trivial Pursuit.

History

Board games have a long history and have been played in most cultures and societies; some even pre-date literacy skill development in the earliest civilizations. A number of important historical sites, artifacts and documents exist which shed light on early board games. The most of important of these include:

  • Senet has been found in Predynastic and First Dynasty burials of Egypt, c. 3500 BC and 3100 BC respectively [1]. Senet is the oldest board game known to have existed. Also see Okno do svita deskovych her for a photo of the actual fresco found in Merknera's tomb (3300-2700 BC).
  • Mehen is another ancient board game from Predynastic Egypt.
  • The Royal Tombs of Ur contained, among others, the Royal Game of Ur. They were excavated by C. Leonard Woolley, but his books document little on the games found. Most of the games he excavated are now housed in the British Museum in London.
  • Buddha games list is the earliest known list of games.

Timeline

  • 3500 BC - Senet found in Predynastic Egyptian burials [2]; also depicted in the tomb of Merknera.
  • 3000 BC - Mehen, board game from Predynastic Egypt, played with lion-shaped game pieces and marbles.
  • 2560 BC - Board of the Royal Game of Ur (found at Ur Tombs)
  • 2500 BC - Paintings of Senet and Han being played made in the tomb of Rashepes
  • 2000 BC - Drawing in a tomb at Benihassan depicting two unknown board games being played (depicted in Falkner). It has been suggested that the second of these is Tau.
  • 1500 BC - Liubo carved on slab of blue stone. Also painting of Board Game of Knossos.
  • 1400 BC - Game boards including Alquerque, Three Men's Morris, Nine Men's Morris, and a possible Mancala board etched on the roof of the Kurna Temple. (Source: Fiske, and Bell)
  • 200 BC - A Go board pre-dating 200 BC was found in 1954 in Wangdu County. This board is now in Beijing Historical Museum. (Source: John Fairbairn's Go in Ancient China).
  • 116 - 27 BC - Marcus Terentius Varro's Lingua Latina X (II, par. 20) contains earliest known reference to latrunculi (often confused with Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum, Ovid's game mentioned below).
  • 79 - 8 BC - Liu Xiang's (劉向) Shuo yuan, contains earliest known reference to Xiangqi.
  • 1 BC-8 AD Ovid's Ars Amatoria contains earliest known reference to Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum and the smaller merels.
  • 220-265 Nard enters China under the name t'shu-p'u (Source: Hun Tsun Sii)

Board games first became widely popular among the general population early in the 20th century when the rise of the middle class with disposable income and leisure time made them a receptive audience to such games. This popularity expanded after the Second World War, a period from which many classic board games date. Computer games are closely related to board games, and many acclaimed computer games such as Civilization are based upon board games.

Many board games are now available as computer games, including the option to have the computer act as an opponent. The rise of computers has also led to a relative decline in the most complicated board games, as they require less space, and are easier to set up and clear away. With the Internet, many board games can now be played online against computer or other players in real time (like to classics board games available on Yahoo, Lycos and other big Internet sites) or during your spare time, every time it's your turn (see the links at the end of this article).

The modern board game industry is rife with corporate mergers and acquisitions, with large companies such as Hasbro owning many subsidiaries and selling products under a variety of brand names. It is difficult to successfully market a new board game to the mass market. Retailers tend to be conservative about stocking games of untested popularity, and most large board game companies have established criteria that a game must meet in order to be produced. If, for instance, Monopoly were introduced as a new game today, it would not meet the criteria for production.

Luck, strategy and diplomacy

One way of defining board games are between those based upon luck and strategy. Some games, such as chess, have no luck involved. Children's games tend to be very luck based with games such as Sorry! having virtually no decisions to be made. Most board games have both luck and strategy. A player may be hampered by a few poor rolls of the dice in Risk or Monopoly, but over many games a player with a superior strategy will win more often. While some purists consider luck to not be a desirable component of a game, others counter that elements of luck can make for far more complex and multi-faceted strategies as concepts such as expected value and risk management must be considered. Still most adult game players prefer to make some decisions during play, and find purely luck based games such as Top Trumps quite boring.

The third important factor in a game is diplomacy, or players making deals with each other. A game of solitaire, for obvious reasons, has no player interaction. Two player games usually don't have diplomacy, as cooporation between the two players does not occur. Thus, this generally applies only to games played with three or more people. An important facet of Settlers of Catan, for example, is convincing people to trade with you rather than with other players. In Risk, one example of diplomacy's effectiveness is when two or more players team up against another. Easy diplomacy consists of convincing other players that someone else is winning and should therefore be teamed up against. Difficult diplomacy (such as in the aptly named game Diplomacy) consists of making elaborate plans together, with possibility of betrayal.

Luck is introduced to a game by a number of methods. The most popular is using dice, generally six sided. These can determine everything from how many steps a player moves their token, as in Monopoly, how their forces fare in battle, such as in Risk, or which resources a player gains, such as in Settlers of Catan. Other games such as Sorry! use a deck of special cards that when shuffled create randomness. Scrabble does something similar with randomly picked letters. Other games use spinners, timers of random length, or other sources of randomness. Trivia games have a great deal of randomness based on which question a person gets. German-style board games are notable for often having rather less luck factor than in many North American board games.

Common terminology

Carcassonne tokens, or meeples

Although many board games have a jargon all their own, there is a generalized terminology to describe concepts applicable to basic game mechanics and attributes common to nearly all board games.

  • Gameboard (or board) — the (usually quadrilateral) surface on which one plays a board game; the namesake of the board game, gameboards are a necessary and sufficient condition of the genre
  • Game Piece (or token or bit) — a player's representative on the game board. Each player may control one or more game pieces. In some games that involve commanding multiple game pieces, such as chess, certain pieces have unique designations and capabilities within the parameters of the game; in others, such as Go, all pieces controlled by a player have the same essential capabilities.
  • Jump — to bypass one or more game pieces and/or spaces. Depending on the context, jumping may also involve capturing or conquering an opponent's game piece. (See also: Game mechanic: Capture)
  • Space (or square) — a physical unit of progress on a gameboard delimited by a distinct border (See also: Game mechanic: Movement)

References

  • Fiske, Willard. Chess in Iceland and in Icelandic Literature—with historical notes on other table-games). Florentine Typographical Society, 1905.
  • Falkener, Edward. Games Ancient and Oriental, and How To Play Them. Longmans, Green and Co., 1892.
  • Austin, Roland G. "Greek Board Games." Antiquity 14. September 1940: 257–271
  • Murray, Harold James Ruthven. A History of Board-Games Other Than Chess. Gardners Books, 1969.
  • Bell, Robert Charles. The Boardgame Book. London: Bookthrift Company, 1979.
  • Bell, Robert Charles. Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 1980. ISBN 0486238555
    • Reprint: New York: Exeter Books, 1983.
  • Sackson, Sid. A Gamut of Games. Arrow Books, 1983. ISBN 0091533406
    • Reprint: Dover Publications, 1992. ISBN 0-486-27347-4
  • Schmittberger, R. Wayne. New Rules for Classic Games. John Wiley & Sons, 1992. ISBN 0-471-53621-0
    • Reprint: Random House Value Publishing, 1994. ISBN 0517129558
  • Parlett, David. Oxford History of Board Games. Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 0192129988

Note that some these works may suffer from cultural bias—especially Murray's work which, despite being the standard reference, tends to assume Western cultural superiority.


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                  September 1940: 257–271. Burtons, Nova Scotia. "Greek Board Games." Antiquity 14. Upper Burton, New Brunswick. Austin, Roland G. Lower Burton, New Brunswick. Longmans, Green and Co., 1892. Cherry Burton, New Brunswick.

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                  20) contains earliest known reference to latrunculi (often confused with Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum, Ovid's game mentioned below). Burton, Thomas (died 1457), Bishop of Sodor and Man. 116 - 27 BC - Marcus Terentius Varro's Lingua Latina X (II, par. politician. (Source: John Fairbairn's Go in Ancient China). (1851-1929), U.S. This board is now in Beijing Historical Museum. Burton, Theodore E.

                  200 BC - A Go board pre-dating 200 BC was found in 1954 in Wangdu County. actor. (Source: Fiske, and Bell). Burton, Steve (born 1970), U.S. 1400 BC - Game boards including Alquerque, Three Men's Morris, Nine Men's Morris, and a possible Mancala board etched on the roof of the Kurna Temple. football player. Also painting of Board Game of Knossos. Burton, Ron (1936-2003), U.S.

                  1500 BC - Liubo carved on slab of blue stone. Burton, Robert (1747-1825), North Carolina delegate to Continental Congress. It has been suggested that the second of these is Tau. Burton, Robert (1577-1640), English scholar, cleric, and author. 2000 BC - Drawing in a tomb at Benihassan depicting two unknown board games being played (depicted in Falkner). Burton, Richard Henry (1923-1993), English recipient of the Victoria Cross. 2500 BC - Paintings of Senet and Han being played made in the tomb of Rashepes. Burton, Sir Richard Francis (1821-1890), British explorer, translator, orientalist.

                  2560 BC - Board of the Royal Game of Ur (found at Ur Tombs). Burton, Richard (1925-1984), Welsh actor. 3000 BC - Mehen, board game from Predynastic Egypt, played with lion-shaped game pieces and marbles. British soldier in Canada. 3500 BC - Senet found in Predynastic Egyptian burials [2]; also depicted in the tomb of Merknera. Burton, Ralph (died 1768). Buddha games list is the earliest known list of games. Burton, Mark (born 1956), New Zealand politician.

                  Most of the games he excavated are now housed in the British Museum in London. scholar. Leonard Woolley, but his books document little on the games found. Burton, Marion LeRoy (1874-1925), U.S. They were excavated by C. missionary to China and Japan. The Royal Tombs of Ur contained, among others, the Royal Game of Ur. Burton, Margaret Elizabeth, U.S.

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