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Senet: board game from predynastic and ancient Egypt (wikipedia.org)
33 points by based2 on Feb 15, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 5 comments

Here's a more informative account, hosted on Board Game Geek:



> Everyone seems to agree that play moved back and forth down the 30 spaces rather like a game of Snakes & Ladders. Most believe play started in the upper left corner and moved to the lower right. All also seem to agree that it's in the backgammon family of games, and indeed, it may be the original founding game of the type. Each player had an equal number of identical pieces (either 5 or 7) and the "dice" were four throwing sticks that were flat on one side and rounded on the other.

The board comprised 30 spaces in three rows of 10 each. 24 of the spaces were plain or decorated with art that had no game effect. If we start the numbering system at the upper left, the first special space is No. 15. This seems to be a "starting" space of some kind, according to most authorities, although probably not the game start. Instead it seems to be a restarting space for pieces that are sent back from the "water trap" in space 27, which I'll discuss later on.

The next space of note is No. 26, which apparently usually had a symbol implying it was a "good" space. Space No. 27 is the "water trap" which is a "bad" space. Most authorities believe that pieces that landed there were sent back to Space 15. Finally, spaces 28, 29 and 30 are marked III, II and I, respectively. Most believe these were "bearing off" spaces, although some versions treat them as entering spaces, RC Bell, for example.

Apparently these markings were remarkably stable for the several thousand years that the game was played.

For those in the Bay Area, there's a full sized version of Senet at the Egyptian museum in San Jose. Not sure where they got there rules from. Also saw Senet on Steam recently. Seems like the game is on a comeback.

Someone should make up rules and ship it. The world needs more board games.

tl;dr--- the rules are unknown

Senet dates from the time games were played not just as entertainment, but as a way to divine the will of the gods. As such , the absence of rules robs us of a little understanding of Egyptian religion, culture, and civilization. This is touched upon briefly in the following article about game rules that appeared in Escapist Magazine:


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