The Royal Game of Ur



The Royal Game of Ur, also known as The Game of Twenty Squares (for obvious reasons), is a two-player strategy race game that was first played in ancient Mesopotamia (around 3000 BC). As it became popular, the game acquired spiritual significance, and events in the game were believed to reflect a player’s future and convey messages from deities or other supernatural beings.


The goal of the game is to take every seven pieces from the start to the end without being caught by any opponent’s piece. If one opponent’s piece lands on yours, that piece has to start the path from the beginning. This is how the gameplay works:

  1. Roll the dice: The first player rolls four tetrahedral die, which has two of his vertices marked. The player gets as much moves as marked vertices faces up, four being the top moves and zero being the minimum.
  2. Chose which piece to move: The player now choses which piece he wants to move following these rules:
    1. You cannot move your piece to a square already occupied by one of your pieces.
    2. If you land on an opponent’s piece, you send that piece out of the board.
    3. You are forced to move a piece every turn, unless is completely impossible.
    4. To move the piece out of the board and hence, scoring you need an exact moves roll.
  3. Different squares:
    1. If player’s piece lands on one of the pieces marked with a star, he gets another turn, being able to roll again and move whatever piece he wants/can.
    2. A piece standing on a star marked square is protected, and cannot be attacked, although it can be passed through.
  4. Once the player has moved the piece and if it has not another turn, the second player’s turn starts.

The game can be played in hard mode, which means that each piece will have to go to the end of the board and then return in order to score it, the rest of the rules stay as it were for the normal mode. The hard mode can considerably increase the time that takes to finish the game.

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