Fours An ancient game reinvented for modern times

A Quick History

Early in the 20th Century, archaeologists discovered tombs in the ancient Sumerian city of Ur. Contained within these tombs, the researchers discovered the usual relics - but they also discovered a number of game boards unlike any others they had seen before. Some of these boards were dated back to 3000 BC. Along with the boards were found a set of six pyramidal dice along with two sets of checker-like pieces. Unfortunately, no decipherable instructions were found to explain the game.

This game became known as the Royal Game of Ur.

Game on display at the british museum, london

But how do you play?

That question led to the idea behind Fours. Using a number of resources, I tried to determine the official rules of The Royal Game of Ur. It seems like there were as many 'official' ways to play the game as there were websites that talked about it. In fact, the rules became so confusing that one can understand why the game didn't survive history. Depending on whose interpretation you were reading, each different marking on the board had players doing different things.

It was just too complicated.

SAy Hello to Fours

The answer lay in simplifying the overall basics of the game. Pieces were reduced from seven per side to only four. Dice were reduced to one per side numbered from one to four. All the confusing symbols were removed - only the spaces considered 'safe' were left marked.

In essence, the game is a race with a course that offers players opportunities to block their opponent or kick pieces off the board while racing to get all their pieces through the course. Safe spaces occur every four spaces.

Instead of a rigid board, Fours will come with a mat-style board made of the same material as your computer's mouse pad. This will give the players an option to play on almost any flat surface. Since the board will be flexible, it can be rolled or folded to make it extremely portable - drop it in a backpack, a purse, or suitcase. Pieces will be similar to checkers but with a nice weight. Instead of typical 4-sided dice which can be challenging to pick up or roll, the dice will be 8-sided with numbers 1-4 appearing twice on each die.

The game is easy to learn and fast-paced but challenging enough to keep players entertained. But Fours is just a prototype for now. You can help make it a reality by supporting it on Kickstarter.

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