Before the days of console and online gaming, we had board games, among which are some classics that should never be forgotten. Nothing quite beats the feeling of going up against an equal opponent in a tough game of chess or Go. These games are easy to learn, but take a lifetime to master…
10 – Pachisi
This game was created in India around 6thcentury AD, and has since inspired other popular board games such as Ludo. Pachisi involves groups of pawns that move around a board. It all seems simple enough, but expert players use advanced strategies to create pawn barriers to restrict the movements of other players, and in a four-player game, alliances can form that can make or break a game.
9 – Backgammon
It’s still a favourite for players across the world, but backgammon is actually an ancient game. A board dates back to Iran in 3000BC. A seemingly-random roll of the dice determines how many places a player can move his or her stones, but expert players use mathematical calculations to determine the possibilities of different outcomes and move their pieces accordingly.
8 – Blackjack
This has to be one of the easiest card games to learn. The premise is very simple. You have to have the combined total value of your cards add up to as close to 21 as possible, without going over (or “bust”). Good players know when to stick and when to hit another card, depending on the cards that the dealer is showing, which adds a mathematical element to the game, but the only people who have actually beaten the game are proficient card counters.
7 – Checkers
Checkers is played on the same board as chess and is often considered an easier game. In a way, this is true. All pieces use the same forward diagonal movements and can jump over other pieces to take them. If pieces make it to the other side, they can be upgraded to allow them the extra mobility of travelling backwards. Don’t be deceived, however – professional players use advanced plays like the “forced capture” and the “double-ended trapping trio”!
6 – Eternity
Okay, it’s more of a jigsaw puzzle than a game, but Eternity deserves a place on the list for its sheer complexity. It is a puzzle unlike any other, and the original game offered players a million dollar prize to whoever could crack it. Eventually, a duo of mathematicians worked together to claim the prize, which required immense mathematical computation.
5 – Poker
Here is another card game, but this one requires much more strategical knowledge. Texas Hold ‘Em is one of the most popular card games in the world, and for good reason. Anyone can play once they have grasped the hand values and basics of play, and the element of chance means that anyone can win, but professionals focus on making statistically valid decisions as well as using psychology to understand their opponent’s intentions. Deep!
4 – Scrabble
It’s everyone’s favourite word game, and such a simple game to learn. You put words down to score points. Yet the game relies on intelligence, vocabulary and even math for a player to be skilled. The “Official Scrabble Players Dictionary” includes more than 120,000 words for elite players to choose from.
3 – Chess
Chess is a personal favourite of mine and is still one of the best games in the world. Played on an 8 x 8 board, each piece type has a different purpose and permitted means of moving and attacking. Once familiar with these rules, players can go ahead and enjoy a game, but professionals are pretty serious about their strategy; chess has a staggering number of possibilities, with +-10,921,506 possible positions after just seven moves.
2 – Go
If there is any game to rival Chess in both complexity and popularity, it is Go, the Chinese game that is thought to be up to 4000 years old. It is played on a 19 x 19 grid, and players aim to take territory using black or white pieces. It has an incalculable number of possibilities and is one of the most difficult games to master.
1 – Shogi
Shogi is often called “Japanese Chess,” and its game pieces were found in a structure that was built in the 7th century. The basic idea is the same – players have to checkmate the opponent’s king in order to win the game. Yet, the rules are vastly different; for example, you can capture your enemy’s pieces and use them as your own, and you can upgrade pieces by reaching certain points on the board. Also, it’s played on a huge 26 x 26 board, making for a vast number of possibilities.