The first board game as far as we know was created in the 3500-3100 BCE. This game was called Senet and was discovered in Egypt by a fresco found in the tom of Merknera. Fast forward a few thousand years and there a countless amount of board games with many more being made every day. So in the spirit of the history of board games, I will be listing off some of the best old board games along with a few ancient games from long long ago.
Best Old Board Games List
Go is an ancient Chinese game that was created more than 2,500 years ago. It is believed to be one of the oldest games that are still heavily played today. In Chinese culture, it was even considered to be one of the four essential arts for Chinese scholars.
The objective of the game is relatively simple. Two players compete to surround more territory than their opponent using small smooth stones. The great thing about this game is its simplistic nature as it can be explained in under thirty seconds. However, despite its simplicity in rules, it is an extremely complex game that requires an immense amount of strategy to win. If you have not already played Go and are a strategy lover I would highly suggest picking up a copy today. Especially since it typically can be bought for under $20 dollars.
Chess is also a two-player strategy board game like Go and is played by millions of people worldwide. It is believed that Chess originated sometime in 7th century India making it another very old board game.
The point of the game is to capture the opponent’s king. This is done through the use of a starting sixteen pieces varying between pawns, king, queen, knights rooks, and bishops. Each having their own special role.
This game is also another top-tier strategy game for those strategy lovers out there.
Checkers is the American version of a very popular game called Draughts which has a number of variants made from it. The first Checkers like board game was actually found in what is now Iraq and is carbon dated to be more than 5,000 years old. The rules of that found board game are still unknown but historians were able to discover the rules of another ancient Egyptian version of Checkers. This game was popular from 1400 BCE until the Middle Ages and was known as Alquerque. Making Checkers another game of vast history.
Checkers is also another strategy type game where players attempt to either capture all their opponents pieces or prevent them from making a move. At which time the player who has either lost all their pieces or cannot move has lost.
Mah Jong was created in China during the Qing Dynasty a few hundred years ago. The game, which consists of 144 tiles based on Chinese character and symbols, is widely played in eastern and southern Asia. Some regions make different variations of the game removing and adding different symbols as they see fit.
Mah Jong is typically played with 3-4 players requires tactical, memory, observation, and teamwork skills to win. The game begins with each player receiving 13 tiles. From there each player takes turns drawing and discarding tiles in hopes of creating 4 sets and pair to win the game with the 14th tile. There are a few special class hands which can also win the game for a player. An interesting aspect of this game is that players are capable of robbing another player’s tile.
Mancala is not a game in itself but a generic name for a family of 2 player turn-based strategy board games. There are over 800 variations that are known and Kalah is the most common in western society. I will briefly talk about Kalah and how it is played.
Kalah was imported into the United States back in 1940 by William Julius Champion. The game consist of a board and some seeds which are used to keep track of who wins. The board consist of 12 different zones called houses and one big zone at the end of each board called the end zone. The object of the game is to capture the most seeds.
To start the game each house is filled with four seeds. Each player controls 6 of the twelve houses and players score their seeds located in the end zone at the end of the game. Players take turns sowing their seeds located in their six houses. On a players turn, the player is allowed to take all of the seeds out of one of their houses and drop them into their other houses. If the seed drops into the house that currently has no seeds in it they may take that seed and all their opponents seed in the corresponding house. These seeds are then placed in the end zone. When one player has no more seeds the other player is declared the winner.
Monopoly is a board game that many Americans know and either love or hate. It was derived from The LandorLord’s Game which was created in 1903 as a way to promote the theories of Henry George in economics, mainly ideas about taxation. It was in favor of the idea that rewarding wealth creation was a better economy than one in which monopolies work under few constraints. Monopoly itself was published in 1935 by the Parkers Brothers.
The game involves players going around a square board and buying up properties while also avoiding hazards such as income tax or getting sent to jail. A few other aspects which could be good or bad for the player are landing on things such as the chance or community chest tile. Landing on these tiles could reward or harm players depending on the card drawn. The objective of the game was to drive your opponents into bankruptcy mainly by obtaining monopolies and building up the mighty hotels.
Although some hate this game I still enjoy playing it from time to time and it can be a fun family game especially if your family enjoys themed games, as you can find nearly any theme for this game. Ranging from Star Wars to Harry Potter.
Clue, also known as Cluedo, was first made in 1949. The game has had a multitude of games, books, and even a movie released as part of the Clue franchise. The game has also been rethemed many times and also relaunched over the years. This murder mystery game is one that is great for families to play together. Furthermore, it has won an award for being a top game for ages 8 to 13 so if you have children who love to play board games with friends this might be a decent pickup for the family. Although I will say that there are many other great games like this out there with improved mechanics that adults would enjoy playing together.
The basis of the game is to use deductive reasoning to solve who committed the murder. This is done by exploring various rooms in the game to find out key details such as which weapon was used in the murder.
Othello is a remarketed version of Reversi which was originally created back in the 1880’s. It is an abstract strategy game for two players that is played on an 8×8 board with 64 disks. The objective of the game is to have the most disk with your color facing up once the last tile is filled. Since the game has been remarketed a few things have changed about the playstyle. The first being the original placement of the starting pieces are now in the middle of the board and the second being that each player essentially has 64 disks instead of 32.
Risk is another classic board game that has been around since the 1950’s and is a personal favorite of mine. The game involves conquering your opponents through strategic management of troops. As players capture different territories they receive bonus troops each turn that will help them grow their army.
My favorite thing about Risk is the fact that many of its rethemes change the playstyle of the game. One of the most recent versions of Risk that I go to play was Halo Risk which had added in heroes that can help strengthen your army along with teleporters to travel around the map. This is a great strategy game for those who enjoy managing an army of their own and I highly suggest both the original and rethemed versions.