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The Best Board Games of the Ancient World

Chess

Chess

Originating from the ancient Indian war strategy game called Chaturanga, the game of Chess had pieces resembling kings, queens, infantry, cavalry, chariots and elephants moving in diverse patterns on the square chessboard. The early version also had an element of chance, which was eliminated from modern chess.

A later version of the game, called Shatranj resembles modern chess and had the Queen piece as the most powerful of all pieces, reflecting on the rise of the empowered female royals of the 15th and 16th century.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

The Best Board Games of the Ancient World

The Best Board Games of the Ancient World

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/best-board-games-ancient-world-180974094/

smithsonianmag.com

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Key Ideas

Egyptian Senet

One of the earliest known board games, Senet was played in 3100 BC and loved by Queen Nefertari and the Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

Played using a longboard having three rows of ten squares each, the players used a combination of luck and strategy to rush to the end of the board while blocking the other player from doing so. The game achieved a ritualistic, crystal ball-like significance among the people of Egypt.

The Royal Game Of Ur

  • Also known as Twenty Squares, this 4500-year-old game, first unearthed in ancient Mesopotamia, is impressive in its complex rules and intricate design.
  • The beautiful game board uses twenty squares and has a narrow bridge in the middle part, was played in Iraq, Israel, Egypt, Turkey and many other ancient civilizations.
  • To finish the game as winners, players had to race their opponent to the opposite end of the board, moving pieces according to knucklebone dice rolls.

The Game of Mehen

  • Named after the Egyptian serpentine deity, Mehen is also known as the Egyptian Snake Game and was played between 3100 to 2300 BC.
  • Six players could simultaneously play this spiral board, each having a piece crafted in the shape of a lion or a sphere.
  • The rules of this game are not very clear because it lost its popularity after the decline of Egypt’s Old Kingdom and is hardly found in archaeological records.

Nine Men’s Morris

Resembling the game of modern-day checkers, Nine Men’s Morris was first played in 1400 BC in medieval Europe.

It had players directing nine ‘men’ across a grid, and combining three pieces of men together captured a man from the other side. The game was mentioned in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The Game of Tafl

A disc-shaped gaming board was used to play Tafl, a Norse strategy game having widespread played as early as 400 A.D., according to the Oxford History of Board Games.y. It was played in Scandinavia along with Britain and Ireland.

A popular variant of the game, Hnefatafl, had the objective of defending a king from a group of taflmen(a group of attackers) by attempting to secure him in one of the four corner grids.

Ludus Latrunculorum

A variant of the ancient Greek game Petteia, this two-player strategy game was popular in ancient Rome. The board game had a grid of varying sizes, as documented in the first century BC.

A primitive combination of checkers and chess, Ludus Latrunculorum, also known as Latrunculi had the players moving backwards and sideways in the grid with the aim of surrounding an isolated enemy player. Its exact rules remain unclear.

Patolli

  • Invented in Mesoamerica, The Aztec game of Patolli was an early gambling game with cross-shaped track used to move pebbles, along with a dice made of drilled beans.
  • Also called Patoliztli, this game was extremely prevalent in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, played by the commons as well as the aristocrats.
  • Players used to wager with their whole belongings and even their own lives in this high stakes game.

Chess

Originating from the ancient Indian war strategy game called Chaturanga, the game of Chess had pieces resembling kings, queens, infantry, cavalry, chariots and elephants moving in diverse patterns on the square chessboard. The early version also had an element of chance, which was eliminated from modern chess.

A later version of the game, called Shatranj resembles modern chess and had the Queen piece as the most powerful of all pieces, reflecting on the rise of the empowered female royals of the 15th and 16th century.

Backgammon

  • A two-player game with thirty pieces on the board, Backgammon had the objective to get each player to remove, or ‘bear off’ all of their pieces off the board.
  • Skill and luck are mixed potently in this board game featuring twenty-four triangles, with many historians writing about the game’s origins being The Game Of Ur.
  • Widely played in Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, Backgammon had about twenty-five versions and names like Tric-Trac, Irish, and Bräde.

Go: The Game

  • Arising 3000 years ago in China by the name of Weiqi, Go is a game of territorial occupation and is deceptively complex.
  • Players play using stones in a 19 by-19 square grid and have to capture enemy pieces while controlling maximum territory. Japan further developed the game and it is now among the most sophisticated board games, at par with Chess.
  • Go was considered one of the four arts that the Chinese scholars were required to learn and even had four schools established for its study back in the 17th century.

The Game of Mancala

Also called naqala, this family of games was seen between 3000 to 1000 BC in Africa, the Middle East and southern parts of Asia.

A variant of Mancala, named Oware, is considered the most popular version where two players play with a board of rows and holes, where speed is of the essence. The players have to capture more seeds than their rival, with many cultures playing it differently. The longer the game of Mancala, the more complex it becomes.

The Game Of The Goose

  • This game of pure chance was one of the earliest commercially made board games.
  • First referenced in Spain back in the 16th century, the game had beautiful themes, along with colourful illustrations and designs.
  • The players had to roll the dice and send their respective piece in the centre of the coiled, spiral board having sixty-three spaces, with six of them having special rules. The game was popular with the Dukes and aristocrats of Spain and spread across Europe in no time.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The familiarity of it
The familiarity of it

Chess is more familiar than you think.

  • There is a king who doesn't do much himself because everybody "got his back."
  • There's a queen who does whatever she likes.
The history of chess
  • Chess emerged in fifth-century India. In ancient India, there were no bishops, castles, or queens, but elephants, chariots, and ministers of war.
  • In early Islam, the game was played with elegant cylinders and conicals in ivory or stone.
  • In the 12th -century Norway the kings were bearded brutes with lustrous hair, flanked by shield-biting berserkers.
  • Chess standardized in the 19th century and became the Staunton version we play with today.
Chess is a great teacher

Chess either gets you hooked or makes you avoid it because it is not played enough.

The number of different possible positions on the board adds up to 10 to the power of 120. The numbers of the pieces involved are frequently quoted and always unimaginable.

But chess is a game of logical consequences and sly entrapment. It is a magnetic field of forces that are charged with energy. It is an endless pursuit that gives it an edge.

A new disorder

The World Health Organization officially added a new disorder to the section on substance use and addictive behaviors :

The term "addiction"

Addiction can include:

  • Addiction as a moral transgression, like excessive drinking or drug use.
  • Addiction as a scientific disease, which characterize alcoholism and drug addiction as biological.
  • Colloquial violation, which applies the term to almost any fixation. 

The idea that someone can be addicted to a behavior, as opposed to a substance, remains debatable.

Arguments against gaming addiction
  • Excessive gameplay is a symptom of a larger problem, like anxiety or depression.
  • The fear of possible addiction arrises from moral panic about new technologies, not scientific research or clinical data.
  • Making excessive gaming a disorder can harm the gaming industry by stigmatizing their products. 

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Developing mastery

Fun is the experience of developing mastery. When we acquire new skills and recognize valuable patterns, our brains reward us with a shot of pleasurable sensations. 

Games and learning

Games are optimal learning environments:

  • Feedback loops are short, fast and adapted to your skill level.
  • Challenges grow as you develop new skills.
  • Failures are learning opportunities because every time you make a mistake, you get a hint about how you can do better next time.
Boredom and learning

Boredom is what we feel when our brain decides that there's nothing worth learning. It's the brain searching for new information.

And even games become boring at some point because they eventually run out of things to teach you. That's when you stop playing.

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Chess Is More Than a Game
Chess Is More Than a Game

Chess first originated in its early form more than 1,500 years ago in India or China, but the modern variant has been around since the 15th century.

Chess played by the ave...

Ask the Right Questions to Narrow Focus
  • When novice players play chess, they focus on what to do with the pieces. They may try and visualise a few steps ahead, but mostly just react to the board without considering the reasons behind the pieces.
  • Professional chess players focus on how their opponents think. They seek to ask the right questions to understand their opponent's process.

Whether in chess or life, don't be fooled by what's on the surface. The best approach is to have a framework in place to trim the fat and focus on what matters. Ask enough pointed questions to lead you to clear answers.

Balance Calculation with Imagination

In chess, students learn famous patterns and tactics. If an opponent does one thing, you are expected to react with another.

While it is good to recognize appropriate cues and employ the tactics you have learned, sometimes it is good to look towards where you want to end up and fill the gaps in a new way rather than using the past to move in a predictable direction.

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Pokémon
Pokémon

Pokémon, with its first incarnation as a video game + trading card collection, emerged in Japan back in 1996 and created a viral storm, earning USD 5 billion for Nintendo, its pare...

Pokeflu: Nintendo And Game Boy

The Pokémon craze was in full bloom when the first movie of the franchise debuted in 1999, though the parent company Nintendo made huge waves with the innovative, crazy-good NES console in 1983. The games were imaginative and beautiful, becoming extremely popular all across the world.

In 1989, Nintendo’s handheld console, Game Boy, in which many games including Pokémon debuted, changed the way games were consumed both by adults and children.

The Pokémon Phenomenon
  • The game is set in a fictional village where players explore the rivers and forests searching for creatures(or monsters) which are for taming and training.
  • The game was designed to compel the player to seek out other players and network with them to complete their mission.
  • American companies like Atari provided a primitive gaming experience when compared to the explorative, dream-like atmosphere and playing complexity provided by Game Boy.
  • The game was originally considered too cute for American gaming customers, where macho men and femme fatales were preferred to school children and ‘Hello Kitty’ styled monsters.

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Video Games Can Teach You Personal Accountability
Video Games Can Teach You Personal Accountability

The reward our brains feel when accomplishing something in a game teaches us to focus our own actions and helps us control the situations around us. Lessons like this are easily applied in t...

Video Games Are Now Used In Therapy

Researchers designed a game called SPARX to help treat depressed teenagers. The players had almost double the total recovery rate when compared to the conventional treatment group.

Video Games Can Help You Make Friends

Games that are popular or involve social mechanics can help with making friends by giving access to the community that forms around the shared experience. 

Gaming conventions, online multiplayer sessions, and competitions all help players meet new people and make friends with a common interest. 

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Separate decision quality from results

People have a natural tendency to conflate the quality of a decision with the quality of its outcome. They're not the same thing. 

You can make a smart, rational choice but still ...

Luck and Incomplete Information

Why don't smart decisions always lead to good results? Because we don't have complete control over our lives — and we don't have all of the information. 

You can opt not to drink on New Year's Eve, for instance, but still get blindsided by somebody who did to drink and drive. You made a quality decision, but happenstance hit you upside the head anyhow.

Thinking in Bets

Becoming comfortable with uncertainty and not knowing is a vital step to becoming a better decision-maker.

What makes a decision great is not that it has a great outcome. A great decision is the result of a good process, and that process must include an attempt to accurately represent our own state of knowledge.

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Sympathy and Empathy
Sympathy and Empathy

Video games had a reputation of being emotionally numbing and brain rotting, but this recent trend towards narrative-centric gaming is now developing a player’s sense of sympathy and empathy...

Mental and Creative Prowess

There are games designed to train and improve brain functionality, logical deduction, pattern recognition, memory, matching, and outside the box thinking.

The interactivity of games is one way to exercise your mind while having fun. That’s important because, like muscles, the brain will atrophy if you don’t work it. 

Leadership and Socialization

It’s possible that gaming enables stereotypically introspective individuals to be more social, ultimately improving social skills.

In the earliest consoles, gaming with friends involved a physical gathering in front of a single TV. Even in today’s online multiplayers, gamers often form groups, communicate over voice and video chat, and can even help train leaders in the case of those who manage the groups. 

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Attention = Focusing + Ignoring

Paying attention involves two separate distinct brain functions: 

  1. “enhancement” - our ability to focus on things that matter) 
  2. “suppression” - our ability to ...
Suppressing distraction gets harder with age

Our ability to filter out distractions, not our concentration, diminishes with age. 

As we grow older we get more and more distracted. 

Less visual clutter to eliminate distractions

When your eyes are closed, your brain isn’t working as hard to filter out visual information. So: 

  • Use one screen, one browser window, and one computer program at a time.
  • Keep your physical and virtual desktop tidy.

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