What Were Some of the First Board Games?

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By Valerie Becker

Board games have been a popular pastime for centuries. From ancient civilizations to modern times, people have been playing board games for entertainment and socializing. In this article, we will take a look at some of the first board games that were created and how they have influenced the games we play today.

Ancient Egyptian Board Games

One of the oldest known board games is Senet, which was played in Ancient Egypt around 3100 BCE. Senet was a game of strategy and luck, played on a grid of 30 squares. The game pieces were moved by throwing sticks or dice and the goal was to reach the end of the board.

Another popular board game in Ancient Egypt was Mehen, which was played around 3000 BCE. Mehen had a circular board with pieces that moved along the coils of a snake. The game was named after Mehen, an ancient Egyptian deity who protected Ra from his enemies.

Ancient Greek Board Games

The Greeks also had their own board games, including Petteia and Terni Lapilli. Petteia was a strategic game that involved capturing pieces by surrounding them with other pieces, similar to checkers or chess. Terni Lapilli was played on a grid with three rows of three squares each and involved capturing your opponent’s pieces by lining up three in a row either horizontally or diagonally.

Roman Board Games

The Romans were known for their love of board games, particularly Ludus Latrunculorum (also known as Latrunculi). This strategic game involved moving pieces around a grid with the goal of capturing your opponent’s pieces. The game was so popular that it eventually spread throughout the Roman Empire.

Medieval Board Games

During medieval times, people played many different types of board games. Chess became popular in Europe during this time, as did backgammon.

However, one of the most interesting medieval board games was Hnefatafl (also known as Viking chess). Hnefatafl was played on a grid with two types of pieces: attackers and defenders. The goal was for the attackers to capture the defender’s king piece, while the defenders tried to protect it.


Board games have been around for thousands of years and have evolved over time into the many different types of games we play today. From strategy games like chess to luck-based games like Snakes and Ladders, board games continue to be a popular pastime for people of all ages. So next time you sit down to play a board game with your friends or family, remember that you are partaking in a tradition that has been enjoyed by generations before you.