Outwitting the enemy: Ancient strategy games quiz

By: Olivia Seitz
Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

When the citizens of ancient civilizations weren't busy waging war to keep their land or take someone else's, they matched wits in strategy games. How much do you know about the frequently war-themed games they played?

Mu Torere is thought to be the only indigenous board game of which region?

Mu Torere is a game that was created by the Maori, the native inhabitants of New Zealand. It is played on an eight-point, wheel-shaped board and the game ends when one player is completely blocked in by the other player.

Which ancient civilization loved Petteia?

Petteia, meaning "pebbles," was a favorite strategy game of the Greeks. While they enjoyed playing the game, there was uncertainty about its origins even in their time; it is likely Egyptian.

How did one win Petteia?

The game, played between two people, ended when one player was reduced to a single piece. It could also end if one player was left without any viable moves.

Which of these games is the Japanese variant of chess?

Shogi is played with a set of tiles, each marked with a Japanese character indicating which piece it is. The game begins with an arrangement of pieces in three rows instead of two.

Which of the following is an interesting change Shogi introduces to the usual Chess rules?

The game introduces an extra incentive to capture pieces. Turning them against your opponent makes it easier for you to win the game!

How was the Courier game different from Chess?

The Courier game is believed to have appeared in the early thirteenth century. It was one of many strategy games related to Chess.

Fanorona is a strategy game played in...

Fanorana consists of a board with five rows and an even distribution of white and black tiles, congregated on each end of the board. Players capture each other's pieces by approaching or by withdrawing.

Which video game included Fanorona as a mini-game?

The game gained popularity after being featured in Assassin's Creed III. Players who won Fanorona were awarded a special in-game trophy. Fanorona returned in Assassin's Creed IV.

From which country is Four Field Kono?

The first English description of Four Field Kono, a game played on a 4x4 grid, comes from the late nineteenth century, but historians are unsure of when the game was first created. A player captures an enemy piece by jumping his piece over an adjacent friendly piece, landing on an enemy.

Which of these strategy game names translates to "Black Raven"?

Brandub is an Irish strategy game, derived from the Viking game Hnefatafl. Intriguingly enough, the name appears to have nothing to do with game play.

How does the Viking strategy game of Hnefatafl begin?

The person playing the king has all his pieces clustered in the center of the board. The opponent's army begins in each of the four corners of the board and attempts to capture the king.

Hnefatafl was extremely popular in Europe until which game captured the public's affection?

Hnefatafl had several similarities to Chess, and was readily abandoned in favor of the more complex game imported from India and the Middle East.

Wei Ch'i was the original name for which ancient strategy game that is still popular today?

Go, originally known as Mei Ch'i, was invented in China. Its age is uncertain, but it quickly spread in popularity throughout the surrounding regions.

How does one capture tiles in Go?

While the actual rules are more complex, the basic premise of Go is to surround and flip enemy tiles. The goal is to end up with most tiles being your color at the end of the game.

Which of the following is not allowed in a game of Go?

If a player captures a tile, the other player cannot recapture it on the same turn. This situation is called a "ko."

How many rows are in a Mancala game?

Most games of Mancala, a name given to a related set of strategy games from Africa, are played with just two rows (one for each player). Some variations have three or four rows.

How does a player take a turn in Mancala?

Players choose one of "their" holes and move all the stones from it one at a time. So, a hole with five stones would have one stone dropped in each of the next five holes.

How old is Nine Men's Morris?

Nine Men's Morris is one of the most ancient strategy games in existence. Patterns for Nine Men's Morris were discovered in burial stones from the bronze age, meaning it is older than 4,000 years.

How many people played Nine Men's Morris?

Nine Men's Morris was a two player game. The game began with an empty board, and players took turns placing one of their nine pieces until all pieces were on the board.

What happens after players have put down all of their pieces in Nine Men's Morris?

Players tried to move their pieces into rows of three so that they could capture one of their opponent's pieces. This row of three, called a "mill," had to be split up and put together again in order to capture a new piece.

How many players participated in Four Seasons Chess?

This variant of Chess from the thirteenth century made room for two extra players. Each would take roughly half of an army, and play would begin with all the pieces gathered in the four corners of the board. Half the pawns in the game actually traveled horizontally because of this arrangement!

Four Seasons Chess was treated as a heavy betting game. For what was money added to the winner's pot?

All of the above resulted in money added to the pool. So, a truly talented strategist could earn a nifty sum of money by employing lots of captures and checks before moving in for the checkmate.

Which of the following games originally incorporated strategy, but now uses luck alone?

Puluc is a game played in Guatamala; some believe that Puluc was first created by the Mayans. Players defeat their opponent's pieces until only one man is left standing to win the game.

Which simple strategy game from England involved having your piece hop over another player's piece to capture it?

Likely the inspiration for a certain children's game of the same name, Leapfrog consisted entirely of making short jumps with your pieces to capture your opponent's pieces. The player with the most success at capturing won.

How did one play Horseshoe, an ancient strategy game from the Far East?

Horseshoe was played on a five point board and two pieces for each player. No captures could be made; it was a game of reducing the opponent's options until movement was no longer possible.

What was used to play Choko, a strategy game indigenous to Africa?

Sticks were placed on a board drawn into sand. The game was similar to checkers, but players chose where to place their pieces and whenever one piece was captured, the triumphant player chose another piece to capture as well.

What was the theme of Dablot Prejjesne?

One side played the invading Sami army and one side played the Finish landlord, his tenants and his son. Both sides had equal forces, so it was up to the best strategist to win.

Which of these modern strategy games was Dablot Prejjesne most like?

Players used a 72-point board and could move in any direction. Capturing an opponent required hopping over the piece to an empty spot.

The native people of which region played the game of Konane?

Konane is a strategy game in which players attempt to block each other. The person left without the ability to move any more pieces is the loser.

Which of these games has a board shaped like an hourglass?

Felli is a variation of Alquerque, played by the Moroccans. Each player starts with two rows of six pieces on one side of the hourglass, with only the middle point open.

Which of these games originated in Tibet?

Ming Mang may have been a precursor to Othello, as the game play is quite similar. Players put down pieces and flip them to their own color after successful capture.

Alea Evangelii is a complex variant of which ancient strategy game?

The playing board was a massive 19x19 squares, making it a challenge for players to track everything happening during their games. The exact rules have been lost to time, but it was similar in play to Hnefatafl.

Chaturanga was the most prominent predecessor of which game?

Chaturanga, invented in the sixth century or earlier, is very similar to today's game of Chess. A few of the pieces were different (such as having elephants instead of bishops) and not all rules for moves were the same.

Where did Chaturanga originate?

It was invented in India, after which it was passed on to many different nations, where it continued to evolve into modern-day Chess.

What do players of Dara try to do?

Dara was popular in North Africa and belonged to a family of games called shiva. Players try to form rows of three to capture opponents' pieces, but are banned from making rows of four or more.

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