Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Man flu and the Royal Game of Ur

Not really connected, except that I wouldn't have discovered the latter without a dose of the former rendering me incapable of stringing many coherent thoughts together.

But hey, I vanished down a YouTube rabbit hole yesterday  (as this requires very little brain) and came up with something that's both about ancient history and boardgames. Good enough for here, no?



The Royal Game of Ur, for those not aware, is generally held to be the oldest playable board game in existence. The latter appeared on a cuneiform tablet in the British Museum, and were the subject of some serious research by Irving Finkel, who's one of the museum curators.  The video in question is from blogger/YouTuber Tom Scott (of whom I'm a fan), who actually took on Finkel at the game.

What actually makes it interesting is that, despite (in the form they were playing it) being a very simple game (you can explain the rules in under two minutes) it has a fascinating combination of luck and strategy, has dice that are basically ancient D4's (well, technically D2's!) and is a game with an interesting self-balancing property where the further ahead you are, the easier it is for your opponent to catch up (given a bit of luck and optimal play).

A fun game: I shall have to grab a copy to add it to our copy of Hnefatafl.

1 comment:

  1. I've not played this in a while but still have the game which I bought at the museum a very long time ago. It always produces a good game and so has proved a real keeper when other games have been abandoned and the board is a gorgeous photographic recreation of the original. I hope you find one. Thanks for the 'blast from the past' reminder.

    Stephen

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