The Full History of Board Games (2023)

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This article was originally written on Dicey Goblin

The Royal Game of Ur 2600 BC

Within the past few years board games have gone through an explosion of growth. In 2012 The Guardian went as far as dubbing it “A Golden Age for Board Games”, stating board games have seen a growth rate as high as 40% year over year. It’s also quickly becoming one of Kickstarter’s most funded project categories.

The budding interest has gone as far as inspiring Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day to start a popular Youtube series, called Table Top. This series pits internet celebrities against each other and garners several hundred thousand views per video.

So, how did something so archaic become so popular? Where did it all start?

(5000 BC)

Most people don’t realize board games are actually pre-historic, meaning we had board games before we had written language. So, what was the very first game?.. Dice! A piece that’s essential in most board games today was the basis of humanity’s oldest games.

A series of 49 small carved painted stones were found at the 5,000-year-old Başur Höyük burial mound in southeast Turkey. These are the earliest gaming pieces ever found. Similar pieces have been found in Syria and Iraq and seem to point to board games originating in the Fertile Crescent. The Crescent is comprised of regions around the Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates River in the Middle East. The same region that invented booze, papyrus, breath mints, and calendars, which are also required when planning your game night!

Other early origin dice games were created by painting a single side of flat sticks. These sticks would be tossed in unison and the amounted of painted sides showing, would be your “roll”. Mesopotamian dice were made from a variation of materials, including carved knuckle bones, wood, painted stones, and turtle shells.

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Mesopotamian Four Sided Dice and Stick Dice

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Knuckle Bone Dice 5–3rd Century BC from Greece/Thrace

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Dice were eventually made from a large variety of materials, including brass, copper, glass, ivory, and marble. Dice from the Roman Era look very similar to the six-sided dice we’re used to today. There were also dice with cut corners (as seen in the image above), giving additional possibilities. They’re similar to high number dice from D&D and other roleplaying games.

(3100 BC)

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Board games became popular among pharaohs in Ancient Egypt. Primarily, the game of Senet. The game has been found in predynastic and First Dynasty burials. Senet is featured in several illustrations from Ancient Egyptian tombs. By the time of the New Kingdom in Egypt (1550–1077 BC), it had become a kind of talisman for the journey of the dead.

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Ancient Egyptians were strong believers in the concept of “Fate”. It’s thought that the high element of luck in the game of Senet were strongly tied to this concept. It was believed a successful player was under the protection of the major gods of the national pantheon: Ra, Thoth, and sometimes Osiris. Consequently, Senet boards were often placed in the grave alongside other useful objects for the dangerous journey through the afterlife. The game is even referred to in Chapter XVII of the Book of the Dead.

As far as gameplay, there is some debate. The Senet board itself is a grid of 30 squares, arranged in three rows of ten. There are two sets of pawns (at least five of each and, in some sets, more, as well as shorter games with fewer). Historians have made educated guesses for the actual rules of gameplay for Senet, which have been adopted by different companies which make sets for sale today.

(3000 BC)

With the popular growth of board games amongst royalty, they quickly became adopted by the working class. Soon after, they became tied into religious beliefs. One such game being Mehen.

While a complete set of rules on how to play the game have never been found, we do know the game represents the deity Mehen. The Sun Cult envisioned the god Mehen as a huge serpent who wrapped the Sun God Re in its coils (the game board itself mimics this).

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At some point, perhaps even before the Old Kingdom, the game and the god became intertwined. The game became more than just a simple pastime. It instead became synonymous with the serpent deity in texts and thought. Tim Kendall, an Ancient Egyptian Historian, believed it wasn’t possible to know (with the available evidence) whether this deity was inspired by the game itself or an already existing mythology.

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A Lion Game Piece from Mehen

While no rules for Mehen have been discovered, a similar Arab game, known as the Hyena Game, shared several characteristics. Because of this, the game play utilized in the Hyena game has been adapted to fit the game of Mehen.

Players each begin with six marbles and one lion. Stick dice as depicted above determine movement. Players start at the tail, along the outer edge of the board, and move towards the center where the snake’s head rests. The players race to the center with their marble pieces. Once a marble reaches center, movement reverses and players move towards the start again. The lion piece is then put into play. This predatory piece is used to capture (eat) an opponent’s marble pieces.

(2650 BC)

Many people think Backgammon has been played the longest out of all board games, however it’s actually The Royal Game of Ur.

The game had been thought long-dead, superseded by backgammon 2000 years ago. However, game enthusiast Irving Finkel discovered the game’s rules carved into an ancient stone tablet. He then spotted a surprising photograph of an identical game board from modern India. Soon after, Finkel met a retired schoolteacher who had played the same game as a kid. This makes The Royal Game of Ur the game that has been played longer than any other in world history.

The game gets its name from its founding within the Royal Tombs of Ur in Iraq. There was also a set found in Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s tomb. The Royal Game of Ur was played with two sets, one black and one white, of seven markers and three tetrahedral dice (4-sided dice).

(2000 BC)

Ludus duodecim scriptorum was a board game popular during the time of the Roman Empire. The name translates as “game of twelve markings”, likely referring to the three rows of 12 markings found on surviving boards. The game tabula is thought to be a descendant of this game, and both are similar to modern backgammon.

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XII scripta board in the museum at Ephesus

The oldest game with rules known to be nearly identical to backgammon described it as a board with the same 24 points, 12 on each side. As today each player had 15 checkers and used cubical six-sided dice. The object of the game, to be the first to bear off all of one’s checkers, was also the same. The only differences with modern backgammon were the use of an extra die (three rather than two) and the starting of all pieces off the board. Instead they entered in the same way that pieces on the bar enter in modern backgammon.

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The popularity of backgammon surged in the mid-1960s, in part due to the charisma of Prince Alexis Obolensky who became known as “The Father of Modern Backgammon”. He co-founded the International Backgammon Association, which published a set of official rules. He also established the World Backgammon Club of Manhattan, which devised a backgammon tournament system in 1963. He later organized the first major international backgammon tournament in March, 1964, which attracted royalty, celebrities and the press.

The game became a huge fad and was played on college campuses, in discothèques and at country clubs. People young and old all across the country dusted off their boards and checkers. Cigarette, liquor, and car companies began to sponsor tournaments and Hugh Hefner held backgammon parties at the Playboy Mansion. Backgammon clubs were formed and tournaments were held, resulting in a World Championship, which was promoted in Las Vegas in 1967.

Most recently, the United States Backgammon Federation (USBGF) was organized in 2009 to repopularize the game in the United States. Board and committee members include many of the top players, tournament directors, and writers in the worldwide backgammon community.

(1300 BC)

Ludus latrunculorum was a two-player strategy board game played throughout the Roman Empire. It has references as early as Homer’s time and is said to resemble chess. Because of the limited sources, reconstruction of the game’s rules is difficult, but is generally accepted to be a game of military tactics. Because of the large number of wars during 13th century BC, it’s believed this was the influence on the games theme of military strategy.

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The game has many pieces and is played on a checkerboard type pattern. The board is called the “city” and each piece is called a “dog”. The pieces are of two colors, and the art of the game consists in taking a piece of one color by enclosing it between two of the other color.

It’s theorized Ludus latrunculorum may have had an influence on the historical development of early Chess, particularly the movement of the pawns. When chess came to Germany, the terms for “chess” and “check” (which had originated in Persian) entered the German language as Schach. But Schach was already a native German word for robbery. As a result, ludus latrunculorum was often used as a medieval Latin name for chess.

(500 BC)

Board games were primarily played by adults in ancient cultures and with their deep roots in society, were quickly adopted by children. Although not technically a board game, one of the first games centered towards kids wasHop-Scotch. That’s right, it’s much older than you thought!

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The first references of Hop-Scotch date back to Roman Children around 500 BC. There are many variations of the game all over the world, but the general rules stay consistent. The first player tosses the marker (typically a stone, coin, or bean bag) into the first square. The marker must land completely within the designated square and without touching a line or bouncing out. The player then hops through the course, skipping the square with the marker in it.

The game’s first recorded references in English-speaking world date back to the late 17th century, usually under the name “scotch-hop” or “scotch-hopper”. According to the Oxford English Dictionary the etymology of hopscotch is a formation from the words “hop” and “scotch”, the latter in the sense of “an incised line or scratch”

(400 BC)

While board games were in Asian society long before 400 BC, they were largely interpretations of Middle Eastern games. Liubo was the first board game to break this habit (followed shortly after by “Go”) to become the first game developed by the Eastern world.

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The game was played by two players. It is believed each player had six game pieces that were moved around the points of a square game board that had a distinctive, symmetrical pattern. Moves were determined by the throw of six dice sticks.

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Liubo was immensely popular during the Han Dynasty and rapidly declined afterwards. It’s speculated this may have been caused by the rise in popularity of the game of Go. Liubo almost became totally forgotten. Knowledge of the game increased in recent years with archeological discoveries of Liubo game boards and pieces in ancient tombs.

Liubo boards and game pieces are often found as grave goods in tombs from the Han Dynasty. The game boards were made from a variety of materials: slabs of stone, carved wood, or long legged tables with boards built into them and accompanied by bronze pieces. The common feature of all Liubo boards is the distinctive pattern carved or painted on their surface.

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In many of the excavated Liubo game boards, only certain pieces survived. Since some pieces are made of organic material, like wood, they’d rot away. However, they found a whole friggin set in 1973 that was well preserved!

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The set contained the following pieces:

  • 1 lacquered wooden game box (45.0 × 45.0 × 17.0 cm.)
  • 1 lacquered wooden game board (45.0 × 45.0 × 1.2 cm.)
  • 12 cuboid ivory game pieces (4,2 × 2.2 × 2.3 cm.), six black and six white
  • 20 ivory game pieces (2.9 × 1.7 × 1.0 cm.)
  • 30 rod-shaped ivory counting chips (16.4 cm. long)
  • 12 ivory throwing rods (22.7 cm. long)
  • 1 ivory knife (22.0 cm. long)
  • 1 ivory scraper (17.2 cm. long)
  • 1 eighteen-sided die with the numbers “1” through “16” and characters meaning “win” and “lose”.

Like most ancient board games, there isn’t a full set of rules. However, here is a summary of the theorized rules:

“Two people sit facing each other over a board, and the board is divided into twelve paths, with two ends, and an area called the “water” in the middle. Twelve game pieces are used, which according to the ancient rules are six white and six black. There are also two “fish” pieces, which are placed in the water.

Throwing of the dice is done with a jade. The two players take turns to throw the dice and move their pieces. When a piece has been moved to a certain place it is stood up on end, and called an “owl”. Thereupon it can enter the water and eat a fish, which is also called “pulling a fish”.

Every time a player pulls a fish, he gets two tokens. If he pulls two fish in a row, he gets three tokens (for the second fish). If a player has already pulled two fish but does not win, it’s called double-pulling a pair of fish.

When one player wins six tokens the game is won.”

(400 AD)

Tafl games are a family of ancient Germanic and Celtic strategy board games played on a checkered board with two armies of uneven numbers.

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Although the size of the board and the number of pieces varied, all games involved a distinctive 2:1 ratio of pieces, with the lesser side having a king-piece that started in the centre. The king’s objective was to escape to the board’s periphery or corners, while the greater force’s objective was to capture him. The attacking force has the natural advantage at the start of each game. It’s presumed this indicated the cultural aspect by mimicking the success of Viking raids.

Tafl spread everywhere Vikings traveled, including Iceland, Britain, Ireland, and Lapland. Several iterations of the game, were played across much of Northern Europe.

It’s presumed Tafl branched off into an iteration called Chaturanga. Chaturanga is an ancient Indian strategy game developed in the Gupta Empire, India around the 6th century AD. In the 7th century, it was adopted as shatranj in Sassanid Persia, which in turn was the form of chess brought to late-medieval Europe.

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Chaturanga set

Chaturanga was played on an 8×8 uncheckered board, called Ashtāpada. The board sometimes had special markings, the meaning of which is unknown today.

Soon after, the game was turned into its European variant, Chess, which is played on the same 8×8 tile board. The earliest evidence of chess is found in Sassanid Persia around 600 AD. It’s theorized Muslim traders came to European seaports with ornamental chess kings as curios before they brought the game of chess.

The game reached Western Europe and Russia by at least three routes, the earliest being in the 9th century. By the year 1000 it had spread throughout Europe. Introduced into the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors in the 10th century, it was described in a famous 13th-century manuscript covering shatranj, backgammon, and dice named the Libro de los juegos.

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Around 1200, the rules of Shatranj (the Persian form of Chess) started to be modified in southern Europe, and around 1475, several major changes made the game essentially as it is known today. These modern rules for the basic moves had been adopted in Italy and Spain. Pawns gained the option of advancing two squares on their first move, while bishops, and queens acquired their modern abilities. The queen replaced the earlier vizier chess piece towards the end of the 10th century and by the 15th century had become the most powerful piece. Consequently, modern chess was referred to as “Queen’s Chess” or “Mad Queen Chess”. These new rules quickly spread throughout western Europe. The rules concerning stalemate were finalized in the early 19th century. The results of these rule changes is what standardized the game of Chess we play today.

During the Age of Enlightenment, chess was viewed as a means of self-improvement. Benjamin Franklin even wrote an article titled “The Morals of Chess” in 1750. He stated:

“The Game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement; several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired and strengthened by it, so as to become habits ready on all occasions; for life is a kind of Chess, in which we have often points to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend with, and in which there is a vast variety of good and ill events, that are, in some degree, the effect of prudence, or the want of it. By playing at Chess then, we may learn”

Chess was soon after implemented into schools, where the first chess clubs began. While chess isn’t officially in the Olympics, it’s recognized as a sport by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). It even has its own Olympiad, held every two years as a team event. Most countries have a national chess organization as well.

(700 AD)

Mancala is usually referred to as a specific game, however it’s actually a genre of game. This family of board games is played around the world and referred to as “sowing” games, or “count-and-capture” games, which describes the gameplay. The word mancala comes from the Arabic word naqala meaning “to move”. More than 800 names of traditional mancala games are known, and almost 200 invented games have been described. However, some names denote the same game, while some names are used for more than one game.

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Most mancala games share a common general game play. Players begin by placing a certain number of seeds, prescribed for the particular game, in each of the pits on the game board. A player may count their stones to plot the game. A turn consists of removing all seeds from a pit, “sowing” the seeds (placing one in each of the following pits in sequence) and capturing based on the state of board. This leads to the English phrase “count and capture” sometimes used to describe the gameplay.

A Mancala board is typically constructed of various materials, with a series of holes arranged in rows, usually two or four. The materials include clay and other shape-able materials. Some games are more often played with holes dug in the earth, or carved in stone. The holes may be referred to as “depressions”, “pits”, or “houses”. Sometimes, large holes on the ends of the board, called stores, are used for holding the pieces.

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Playing pieces are seeds, beans, stones, cowry shells, half-marbles or other small undifferentiated counters that are placed in and transferred about the holes during play.

The objective of most two and three-row mancala games is to capture more stones than the opponent. In four-row games, one usually seeks to leave the opponent with no legal move or sometimes to capture all counters in their front row.

At the beginning of a player’s turn, they select a hole with seeds that will be sown around the board. This selection is often limited to holes on the current player’s side of the board, as well as holes with a certain minimum number of seeds.

In a process known as sowing, all the seeds from a hole are dropped one-by-one into subsequent holes in a motion wrapping around the board. Sowing is an apt name for this activity, since not only are many games traditionally played with seeds. Placing seeds one at a time in different holes reflects the physical act of sowing. If the sowing action stops after dropping the last seed, the game is considered a single lap game.

The earliest evidence of the game are fragments of a pottery board and several rock cuts found in Aksumite areas in Matara (in Eritrea) and Yeha (in Ethiopia). They’re dated by archaeologists to between the 6th and 7th century AD. The game may have been mentioned by Giyorgis of Segla in his 14th century Ge’ez text Mysteries of Heaven and Earth, where he refers to a game called qarqis, a term used in Ge’ez to refer to both Gebet’a (mancala) and Sant’araz (modern sent’erazh, Ethiopian chess).

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Pit marks presumed to be ancient mancala boards

The similarity of some aspects of the game to agricultural activity and the absence of a need for specialized equipment present the intriguing possibility that it could date to the beginnings of civilization itself; however, there is little verifiable evidence the game is older than about 1300 years.


What? You’ve never heard of The Landlord’s Game? It was invented by Lizzie Magie, one of America’s very first board game designers. The game board consisted of a square track, with a row of properties around the outside that players could buy. The game board had four railroads, two utilities, a jail, and a corner named “Labor Upon Mother Earth Produces Wages,” which earned players $100 each time they passed it… Sound familiar?

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Magie had invented and patented The Landlord’s Game in 1904 and designed the game to be a practical demonstration of land grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences. She based the game on the economic principles of Georgism, a system proposed by Henry George, with the object of demonstrating how rents enrich property owners and impoverish tenants.

She knew some people could find it hard to understand why this happened and what might be done about it, and thought if Georgist ideas were put into the concrete form of a game, they might be easier to demonstrate. Magie also hoped that when played by children the game would provoke their natural suspicion of unfairness, and that they might carry this awareness into adulthood.

In 1935 Magie sold her patent for The Landlords Game to Parker Brothers, which is now what we know as Monopoly. This game, which launched Parker Brothers into a massive success, was originally rejected by them.

After their success with Monopoly, They went on to produce Risk, Sorry, Trivial Pursuit, and more.

Lizzie Magie sold her original patent of the original game for $500.


The Spiel des Jahres is a German title that simply translates to “Game of the Year”. It’s considered the most prestigious award for board and card games and is awarded annually by a jury of German game critics.

The Spiel des Jahres has the stated purpose of rewarding excellence in game design, and promoting top-quality games in the German market. It is thought the existence and popularity of the award is one of the major drivers of the quality of games coming out of Germany.

A Spiel des Jahres nomination can increase the typical sales of a game from 500–3,000 copies to around 10,000; and the winner can usually expect to sell 300,000 to 500,000 copies.

The criteria on which games are evaluated are:

Game concept: originality, playability, game value
Rule structure: composition, clearness, comprehensibility
Layout: box, board, rules
Design: functionality, workmanship

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The Spield Des Jahres has been responsible for the popularity and growth of games like Settlers of Catan, Dominion, Hanabi, and Dixit. It’s also considered one of the main drivers for the popularity of the Euro Games genre.

Euro Games are a class of tabletop game that generally downplay luck, have indirect player interaction, and focus on economics and strategy.


The Settlers of Catan was one of the first Eurogames to achieve popularity outside of Europe. Over 24 million games in the Catan series have been sold and the game has been translated in over 30 languages.

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In Catan, players compete to establish the most successful colony on a fictional island called Catan (clever, eh?). The game board, representing the island, is composed of hexagonal tiles of different land types.

On each player’s turn, they roll dice (amongst other means) to see if the land they occupy produces resources, which they use to build roads, cities, and settlements.

By building settlements and gaining cards, players earn points leading to victory. Unlike most board games, Catan entices players to go outside the confines of strict rules — allowing them to come to their own agreements when trading resources and money with one another.

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Catan’s popularity in the United States has gotten it dubbed “The board game of our time” by The Washington Post. It’s also featured in the 2012 American documentary film titled Going Cardboard, which details the game’s impact on American gaming communities.

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The game was created by Klaus Teuber who was working as a dental technician outside the industrial city of Darmstadt, Germany in the 80s. Teuber was designing elaborate board games in his basement on his free time. He stated that he used this as an escape from work.

Now 62, Teuber is still somewhat baffled by the popularity of his creation. He never expected it would be so successful.

Almost all board-game designers, even the most successful ones, work full time in other professions; Teuber is one of a tiny handful who make a living from games.

When he appears at major gaming conventions, Teuber is greeted like a rock star.

For a lot of gamers, myself included, Catan was a gateway into the world of Eurogames. Before Catan, talking about board games usually meant you were referring to titles like Sorry, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, and Battleship — games that never excited anyone.

Settlers of Catan was a primary catalysts for the sudden popularity of board games in the United States. It made people hunger for more games that, at the time, had a very different set of rules and mechanics.


With the disruption to the table top market from games like Carcassonne, Catan, Alhambra, and Ticket to Ride, people were eager for more. However, creating and getting a board game to market is no easy task.

Most game designers have full time jobs and creating games is merely their hobby (yes, even for popular games!). They typically only make enough profit to break even or at best squeeze out a couple expansions.

… That is, until Kickstarter.

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In case you’ve been living under a rock, laying on a deserted island, which resides in a hidden cave on another planet, Kickstarter is a global crowdfunding platform that helps bring creative projects to life.

Originally intended for music and film, it has backed over 200,000 projects such as music, shows, comics, digital products, and of course, board games. Kickstarter has raised more than $1.5 billion towards their projects and backers are offered tangible rewards in exchange for their pledge.

Kickstarter has been revolutionary to the board game market, as it gives avid gamers a chance to put their idea out in front of other like minded people. It gave the table top community a way to bring silent ideas to life. You wouldn’t believe how much some of these games have actually raised.

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The Conan Board game Kickstarter campaign launched on January 12th 2015 with a hefty goal of $80,000. It received full funding within 5 minutes and 37 seconds. Not only that, it went on to raise a total of $3,327,757.

And it’s not just board games. Dwarven forge raised a total of $2,140,851 and only makes physical terrain tile pieces for role playing games.

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As I’m writing this, there are currently 213 table top related projects you can fund on Kickstarter. That’s a great display of how far the board game community has come.

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We finally circle back around to one of the biggest catalysts for the recent explosion in board gaming popularity, TableTop. TableTop is a web series about board games and was created by Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day. In each episode Wil Wheaton plays board games with popular TV and web personalities.

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TableTop started out as a show on the Geek & Sundry Youtube Channel and quickly became its most popular series. The original concept for Tabletop was that Wil Wheaton (who’s an avid board gamer) would review board games. However, Wil Wheaton proposed that the best way to show how great games are, is to play them. And, based off their success, they nailed it.

Tabletop had grown to such a point that by the third season, they put up a crowd funding campaign in an effort to become independent. Their target was $500,000 and they raised nearly triple that. They recently announced they would use the extra proceeds to launch a similar web series titled “Titan’s Grave: The Ashes of Valcana”.

Titan’s Grave will be a multi-episode show focused on a single role playing board game. Geek & Sundry has teamed up with Green Ronin Publishing (creators of several RPG titles, including Dragon Age) to create a new game engine that they will be using to power their RPG game.

TableTop has become a resonating force in the gaming community. They focus on introducing gaming to new people that still have a misguided view of board gaming. A lot of people still think of Monopoly and Risk when they think of board games. TableTop’s popularity has started to shift this. The show has gotten so popular that board games featured on the show see skyrocketing sales. When Tsuro was featured on the show, demand was so high, the publisher exhausted all stock reserves. For a time, the game was unavailable in Europe, as production tried to cope with US demand. Game manufacturers have dubbed this “The Wheaton Effect”.

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So what does a popular Youtube channel have to do with a yearly worldwide event? In 2013 Wil and Felicia held International Tabletop Day, where they played several games live with folks from previous episodes. The next year, the event had spiraled into a world wide celebration with events in over 80 countries. The next Tabletop Day will be held on April 11th 2015 and game stores from all over the world are announcing various events and promotions for their participation. Board gaming has officially become a world wide holiday.

Everyone’s built a friendly community both online and off where people share reviews, strategies, thoughts, and even painting techniques for board gaming. Though the community continues to grow at a radical pace, it’s still in its infancy. Keep holding your board game nights and events to introduce new people to the fun of tabletop. There’s still so much more to come!


The Full History of Board Games? ›

Board Games are Even Older

If you enjoy a game of Monopoly or Scrabble, it would appear that you are in good company. The earliest known board games are 5,000 years old and were played by the Egyptians. We don't know the rules of these games, but there is a “Senet” board that dates back to about 3500 B.C.!

What is the brief history of board games? ›

Board Games are Even Older

If you enjoy a game of Monopoly or Scrabble, it would appear that you are in good company. The earliest known board games are 5,000 years old and were played by the Egyptians. We don't know the rules of these games, but there is a “Senet” board that dates back to about 3500 B.C.!

What was the first board game in history? ›

The Royal Game of Ur is the oldest playable boardgame in the world, originating around 4,600 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia. The game's rules were written on a cuneiform tablet by a Babylonian astronomer in 177 BC.

What was the original purpose of board games? ›

While the earliest board games were created for entertainment, over time game designers realized they could also serve as a fun, accessible way to teach morality. This is exactly what Gyandev, a poet-saint of Hinduism did.

How have board games evolved over time? ›

The improvement of printing, production, and distribution of games led to popularization of board games. The concept of play began to change during the Industrial Revolution from not good to good. Travel games such as " Around the World" and "Game of Round the World with Nellie Bly" became popular in the 1900's.

What is the oldest board game still played? ›

Allow me to introduce some of the world's oldest board games, all of which are still played today!
  • Chess. Played since: 7th & 15th centuries. ...
  • Nine Men's Morris. Played since: 1400 BCE (possibly) ...
  • Go. Played since: 2000 BCE. ...
  • Backgammon. Played since: 3000 BCE. ...
  • Checkers. Played since: 3000 BCE. ...
  • Senet. Played since: 3500 BCE.
Mar 31, 2018

What is the #1 board game in the world? ›

The most popular board game is Monopoly, which holds the Guinness World Record for being played by the most people: 500 million people worldwide. This record was set in 1999, so we imagine that many millions of people in the world have been introduced to the popular game of Monopoly since then.

What is the oldest board game in us? ›

The board game Traveller's Tour Through the United States and its sister game Traveller's Tour Through Europe were published by New York City bookseller F. & R. Lockwood in 1822 and claim the distinction of being the first board games published in the United States.

How many board games exist? ›

There are over 140,000 board games on BoardGameGeek website.

What is the oldest Monopoly game? ›

The earliest known version, known as The Landlord's Game, was designed by Elizabeth Magie and first patented in 1904, but existed as early as 1902.

Did you know facts about board games? ›

The phrase “back to square one” might have been inspired by Chutes and Ladders. The name Jenga is based on the Swahili word meaning “to build.” According to Hasbro, the tallest Jenga tower ever was 40 levels tall plus two additional blocks on top. The longest Monopoly game ever went on for 70 straight days.

Do board games have historical significance? ›

Most people don't realize board games are actually pre-historic, meaning we had board games before we had written language. So, what was the very first game?.. Dice! A piece that's essential in most board games today was the basis of humanity's oldest games.

What came first board game rules? ›

On a turn, teams will place their chips on one of two sides at the center of the board, betting on what they think came first. If correct, teams move their tokens forward the number of spaces as was bet. If it was incorrect, they move back that many spaces.

How did board games get popular? ›

Why are board games popular? Board games are popular for lots of different reasons. The internet has made it easier for people to find out about them, crowdfunding means a wider variety and larger volume of board games are being published and people are trying to reduce their screen time.

Why do humans play board games? ›

Many table gamers say they play to unwind and relax. Of course, many board games lead to bouts of laughter that stimulate endorphins. The simple act of having fun can help boost serotonin, relieve symptoms of anxiety, and increase enthusiasm in other areas of your life.

Do board games solve problems? ›

Playing board games increases brain function.

Playing stimulates brain areas that are responsible for memory formation and complex thought processes for all ages. Engaging in play assists in practicing essential cognitive skills, such as decision making, higher level strategic thinking, and problem solving.

What was the 4000 year old board game called? ›

Known today as the Royal Game of Ur, the two-player strategy game was similar to backgammon. Board games have been played across the world for thousands of years.

What board game was invented in 1957? ›

In 1957 French filmmaker, Albert Lamorisse, designed a game titled "La Conquete Du Monde" (The Conquest of the World.)

What is the hardest board game in the world? ›

Chess. One of the most famously difficult games in the world to master is chess. There's much debate about how old chess is and where it came from, but one thing's for sure: The objective is to checkmate the opposition king, while keeping your own monarch safe.

What is the famous word board game? ›

Scrabble has been the essential word game for almost a century. A competitive crossword that rewards players' extensive vocabularies and tactical tile placement, the family board game has remained the go-to board game about spelling words for most players.

Who invented Monopoly? ›

What board game was invented 1979? ›

Trivial Pursuit was co-invented in 1979 by Scott Abbott and Chris Hanley in Canada.

What board game was invented in 1930s? ›

Scrabble was invented by a bored, unemployed man.

Scrabble, as chronicled by Stefan Fatsis in his tome Word Freak, was the 1938 brainchild of Alfred Mosher Butts, who built his game off of a previous game he had invented called Lexiko. The boredom of unemployment helped fuel Butts.

What is the most bought board game? ›

The list of the 20 best-selling board games of all time includes some new favorites and old classics.
  • Backgammon. ...
  • Trivial Pursuit. ...
  • Battleship. ...
  • Clue. > Year introduced: 1949. ...
  • Scrabble. > Year introduced: 1938. ...
  • Monopoly. > Year introduced: 1935. ...
  • Checkers. > Year introduced: 3000 B.C. ...
  • Chess. > Year introduced: 1200.
Mar 20, 2023

Is there a 1% board game? ›

The 1% Club board game will be previewed at this year's London Toy Fair and the product will be available at retail for Summer /Autumn 2023.

What age group plays the most board games? ›

Because of the time/cost associated with playing board games, it's not surprising to me that the most popular category was 35–44; this is an age when one has (perhaps) settled into a career and family, and may have some extra time/money to spend on gaming.

Where is Monopoly banned? ›

Cuba is the second nation. When Fidel Castro and the communist party took control of the country, Castro not only banned the game, he ordered all sets destroyed. Castro opposed the idea of making a game out of American capitalist ideals.

How much did Monopoly cost in 1945? ›

The original Monopoly sold for around $2.

What Monopoly piece was retired? ›

Cannon (Retired)

The cannon was also used in Conflict and tossed in with Monopoly as that game failed. In 1946, it changed from its original design to the long cannon style. Unlike most pieces, the cannon was simply dropped from the lineup without any kind of fan vote or campaign.

What are the most popular board games? ›

Following chess, checkers, backgammon, Monopoly, and Scrabble are among the top five most popular board games. Whether you like to play the best card games or prefer to think ten steps ahead in one of your favorite strategy board games, one of these classic board games will suit your taste.

What are some fun facts about the history of board games? ›

50 Mind-Boggling Facts About Your Favorite Board Games
  • Original paper versions of Battleship included land areas in addition to the water.
  • Battleship was one of the first games to be made into a computer game in 1979.
  • The inventor of Boggle, Allan Turoff, was married in FAO Schwarz's dollhouse department.
Jun 28, 2014

What kind of board games did they play in 1920s? ›

Checkers, like both Parchisi and Backgammon, was a very old game which grew in popularity in the early twentieth century.

What is the most popular board game in 1900? ›

Monopoly is one of the most classic of board games created in the early 1900s.

What game is dating back 500 years? ›

Snow snake is a traditional Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) winter game, dating back over 500 years, before the Europeans arrived on Turtle Island.

When did people start playing board games? ›

We are all familiar with classics like Monopoly™ and Scrabble™, but the first known board games originated from Egypt around 5,500 years ago and have evolved across cultures and societies ever since.

What is one of the oldest and most popular board games *? ›

Go. Go, known as Weiqi in its country of origin China, is one of the oldest board games in the world that is still largely popular today. Although the games exact origins are unknown, Go is believed to have originated in China sometime around 3,000 – 4,000 years ago.

What board game was invented in 1933? ›

The official history of Monopoly is that it was invented in 1933 by a Philadelphia man named Charles Darrow.

Are board games making a comeback? ›

Board games have unequivocally made a comeback. And they're just in time for the holiday rush. “It is undeniable — they are gaining in popularity fast,” said Elan Lee, the creator of popular card game Exploding Kittens.

When was Monopoly invented? ›

On December 31, 1935, the now ubiquitous winner-take-all board game Monopoly was patented (Patent Number 2,026,082). Since that day, it has been translated into 37 languages and evolved into over 200 licensed and localized editions for 103 countries across the world.

Why are board games so white and male? ›

Socially shaped and constructed

The imagined audience for board games is, most often, a cis, straight, middle-class able-bodied white man. The result of this social shaping has been that board gaming spaces have, over time, have become an exclusive preserve for this default, imagined audience.

Why do Millennials love board games? ›

Millennials are drawn to a culture of collaboration, and infusing that in a game night feels natural to them and also relieves the social anxiety of small talk. Communication is important, but so is what players are communicating about. Collaboration is good. Collaborating to be swept into a story?

What part of the brain is used for board games? ›

Cognitive and Memory Stimulation

It's reported by Health Fitness Revolution; that during gameplay, the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex areas of the brain are utilised. Board games often require a player to memorise number patterns and use abstract thinking, mathematical, or problem-solving skills.

What is negative about board games? ›

There's the environmental impact of producing and shipping them. Board games can also be an addiction, which takes up a lot of time, space, and money. Learning them can be stressful, while a competitive environment will often bring out the worst in people.

Are board games nerdy? ›

So, are board games nerdy? Board games have typically been associated with nerds because it is an intellectual hobby. However, a wider variety of board games have made board games more accessible to everyone. Even hobbyist board games have become part of mainstream society.

Where did the board game go originate? ›

Go, probably the world's oldest board game, is thought to have originated in China some 4,000 years ago.

Who is the father of board games? ›

Milton Bradley (November 8, 1836 – May 30, 1911) was an American business magnate, game pioneer and publisher, credited by many with launching the board game industry, with his eponymous enterprise, which was purchased by Hasbro in 1984, and folded in 1998. Vienna, Maine, U.S. Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.

Why is it called a board game? ›

Board games are tabletop games that typically use pieces . These pieces are moved or placed on a pre-marked board (playing surface) and often include elements of table, card, role-playing, and miniatures games as well.

What was the first American board game? ›

New York bookseller F. Lockwood publishes the first-known American board game titled The Travellers' Tour Through the United States. Based on a map of the early nation, the game teaches geography.

Did Mark Twain invent a board game? ›

On August 18, 1885 Mark Twain patented his Memory-Builder, a game board aimed at developing memory for dates and facts.

Which famous board game was invented to explain this time in American history? ›

Early history

The history of Monopoly can be traced back to 1903, when American anti-monopolist Lizzie Magie created a game that she hoped would explain the single-tax theory of Henry George.

What is the world's longest monopoly game? ›

Monopoly: Longest Game Ever is the edition that the players are taking literally forever to play this game. This edition of the famous board game has 96 board spaces, more than doubled of traditional Monopoly (with 40).


1. History of Board Games
(Adam in Wales)
2. The History of Board Games: Hidden Histories
3. The surprising history behind the board game "Monopoly"
(CBS Mornings)
4. Board Games: Crash Course Games #14
5. The History of Board Games: From Ancient Times to Modern Classics
(Curiosity Unleashed)
6. 10 OLDEST Board Games In History
(No Rolls Barred)


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