The Origin of Modern Boardgames
Taylor Liss
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I have recently gained interest in the history of boardgames. Aside from browsing a few websites and Wikipedia pages, I have found the history of boardgames very scattered. This geeklist is my attempt to arrange the history of boardgames into one coherent list.

I will try to cite sources when possible and to include as many boardgames as possible. I am more interested in pre-modern boardgames and will try to focus on those more (i.e. pre-1980 games).

If you have games or data to contribute, please submit them as comments and I will do my best to add them to the list and look up their separate histories.

This looks useful: http://spotlightongames.com/list/timegame.html
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26. Board Game: Rithmomachy [Average Rating:5.48 Unranked]
Taylor Liss
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c. 1030 AD

From here:

Quote:
In many old records Boethius or Pythagoras were presumed as the inventors of Rithmomachia, however, they only created the mathematical basis of this game. It is certain, that the oldest written evidence of Rithmomachia was found in Würzburg around 1030. At a competition between the cathedral schools of Worms and Würzburg, both well-known for their leading position at arithmetics, a disputational text was written with arithmetical sequences of numbers based on 'De institutione arithmetica' of Boethius. On the basis of these writings a monk by the name Asilo created a game - Rithmomachia - which illustrated the number theory of Boethius for the students of monastery schools.
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27. Board Game: Dominoes [Average Rating:5.44 Overall Rank:10666]
Taylor Liss
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c. 1120 AD

From here:

Quote:
The oldest domino sets have been dated from around 1120. Modern dominoes, as most of the Western world knows them, however, appear to be a Chinese invention. They were apparently derived from cubic dice, which had been introduced into China from India some time in the distant past. Each domino originally represented one of the 21 results of throwing two dice. One half of each domino is set with the pips from one die and the other half contains the pips from the second die. Chinese sets also introduce duplicates of some throws and divide the dominoes into two classes: military and civil. Chinese dominoes are also longer than typical European dominoes. Over time Chinese dominoes also evolved into the tile set used to play Mah Jong, a game which swept across the United States in the early to mid 1920s and has enjoyed moderate popularity, especially in its "solitaire" form, since that time.
 
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28. Board Game: Fox and Geese [Average Rating:4.74 Overall Rank:10963]
Taylor Liss
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c. 1300 AD

From here

Quote:
The game Halatafl is known from at least as early as the 14th century, and it is mentioned in Grettis saga. It probably originated in Scandinavia, as a variant of Tafl. In fact, Halatafl is still played in Scandinavia with rules similar to Tafl

(Note: Halatafl is another name for Fox and Geese)
 
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29. Board Game: Poker [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:677]
Taylor Liss
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c. 1400 AD

From here:

Quote:
The history of poker is a matter of debate. One of the earliest known games to incorporate betting, hand rankings, and bluffing was the 15th century German game Pochspiel.
 
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30. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:329] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
Taylor Liss
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c. 1475 AD

From here:

Quote:
Around 1200, rules of shatranj started to be modified in southern Europe, and around 1475, several major changes made the game essentially as it is known today.
 
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31. Board Game: Checkers [Average Rating:4.84 Overall Rank:11148]
Taylor Liss
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c. 1500 AD

From here:

Quote:
Games similar to checkers were played in the days of the early Egyptian pharaohs (c. 1600 bc) and were mentioned in the works of the Greek writers Homer and Plato. About the 12th century AD an early form of the game was adapted to the 64-square chessboard, and by the 16th century the rule compelling capture had been added, producing a game essentially the same as modern checkers.
 
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32. Board Game: Snakes and Ladders [Average Rating:2.77 Overall Rank:11184]
Taylor Liss
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c. 1500 AD

From here:

Quote:
Snakes and Ladders originated in India as a game based on morality called Vaikuntapaali or Paramapada Sopanam (the ladder to salvation). This game made its way to England, and was eventually introduced in the United States of America by game- pioneer Milton Bradley in 1943...

...The game was played widely in ancient India by the name of Moksha Patamu, the earliest known Jain version Gyanbazi dating back to 16th century. The game was called "Leela" - and reflected the Hinduism consciousness around everyday life. Impressed by the ideals behind the game, a newer version was introduced in Victorian England in 1892, possibly by John Jacques of Jacques of London.
 
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33. Board Game: Game of Goose [Average Rating:3.25 Overall Rank:11161]
Taylor Liss
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1574 AD - 1587 AD

From Games to Play: Board and Table Games for all the Family by R.C. Bell:

Quote:
invented in Florence, Italy under Fanceseco de Medici (1574-87) who sent it to Phillip II of Spain. The game spread rapidly to other parts of Europe, reaching England in 1597...
 
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34. Board Game: Tarot [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:2180]
Taylor Liss
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c. 1600 AD

From here:

Quote:
Tarocchini, also known as Partita, is a Tarot card game from the seventeenth century. It was popular in the Bologna region of Italy and has been confined mostly to this area. Tarocchini is very complex, yet the rules have changed little over the years.

(Note: Tarocchini is another name for Tarot)
 
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35. Board Game: Cribbage [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:440]
Taylor Liss
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c. 1600 AD

From here:

Quote:
According to John Aubrey, cribbage was created by the English poet Sir John Suckling in the early 17th century, as a derivation of the game "noddy". While noddy has disappeared, crib has survived, virtually unchanged, as one of the most popular games in the English-speaking world.
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36. Board Game: The New Game of Human Life [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Taylor Liss
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1790 AD

From here:

Quote:
The Game of Goose was a game of morality in that the penalties accompanied such features as the alehouse and the prison. In the late 19th century, games publishers began using the spiral race track format for games to teach morals. The first of these was The game of human life in 1790 and The new game of emulation published by 1804.
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37. Board Game: Mahjong [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:441]
Taylor Liss
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c. 1800 AD

From here:

Quote:
...there is no evidence of Mahjong's existence before the Taiping era in the 19th century...

...One theory is that Chinese army officers serving during the Taiping Rebellion created the game to pass the time. Another theory is that a noble living in the Shanghai area created the game between 1870 and 1875. Others believe that around 1850 in the city of Níngpō two brothers had created Mahjong from the earlier game of Mǎdiào.
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38. Board Game: Carrom [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:865]
Taylor Liss
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Quincy
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c. 1800 AD

From here:

Quote:
The origins of carrom are obscure at best. Some say it was the invention of the Maharajahs of India, while many in India believe it may have been introduced by the British. Some books on international games include Burma, Egypt and Ethiopia as possible sources, all of which leads us to conclude that, at this time, no-one knows where carrom originated.

From here:

Quote:
In the last quarter of the 19th century Henry Haskell, a Sunday School teacher, viewed with alarm the growing number of boys who loafed around pool rooms. (Ironically, the company would eventually manufacture pool tables.) Haskell had an inventive mind and he concentrated his thought on supplying a game which would appeal to these boys and supply wholesome enjoyment. Soon after, Haskell patented and introduced the U.S. Carrom game board. Produced at Ludington Novelty Works (Ludington, MI) of which he was part owner.

 
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39. Board Game: The New Game of Virtue Rewarded and Vice Punished [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
Taylor Liss
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1818 AD

From here:

Quote:
The Game of Goose was a game of morality in that the penalties accompanied such features as the alehouse and the prison. In the late 19th century, games publishers began using the spiral race track format for games to teach morals. The first of these was The game of human life in 1790 and The new game of emulation published by 1804.

The next wave of games published however was directed more particularly at children: The new game of Virtue Rewarded and Vice Punished for the amusement of the youth of both sexes by Thomas Newton was published by William Darton in 1810. Newton was also responsible for The Mansion of Bliss. Both were handsome games with the spiral track enhanced with attractive illustrations in medallions which represented the good and bad in human nature. Both games remained popular for some time.

These games were designed to teach morals; the rights and wrongs of behaviour. To reinforce this, the games were played with teetotums, rather than dice which were associated with gambling. A teetotum was a small spinning top, with usually six edges (but this could vary from four to 12). Each edge bore a number or letter.

The game progresses from number 1. The House of Correction, through Hypocrisy, Avarice, Impertinence, Sloth, Malice and Envy, or through the virtues of Prudence, Faith, Friendship, Patience and Modesty to number 33 Virtue. Penalties include being returned to the House of Correction for Brutality, landing on Carelessness returns the player to Prudence, and Piety advances the player to Temperance.
 
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40. Board Game: Travellers' Tour Through the United States [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Taylor Liss
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1822 AD

From here:

Quote:
Anne Wales Abbott or, Abbot (1808-1908) was a game designer, magazine editor, literary reviewer, and author. She was born 10 April 1808, the daughter of Reverend Abiel Abbott, a Beverly, Massachusetts clergyman, and Eunice Abbott.

Abott designed the didactic roll-and-move board game, The Mansion of Happiness in 1843. The game displayed a track composed of 66 spaces depicting Christian virtues that advanced players to their goal, The Mansion of Happiness, and vices that sent players away from it. The game has long been regarded as the first board game published in the United States of America, with Travellers' Tour Through the United States and Traveller's Tour of Europe of 1822 being the only contenders for the distinction.


From The Gilded Age by Joel Shrock page 122:

Quote:
The first board game, the Travelers Tour through the United States, appeared in the United States in 1822, but was during the Gilded Age, with mass production and the brillantly colored boxes created by chromolithography, that the board games came into mass popularity.
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41. Board Game: Kriegsspiel [Average Rating:8.30 Unranked]
Taylor Liss
United States
Quincy
Massachusetts
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1824 AD

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kriegsspiel_(wargame):

Quote:
Kriegsspiel, from the German word for wargame, was a system used for training officers in the Prussian army. The first set of rules was Instructions for the Representation of Tactical Maneuvers under the Guise of a Wargame, produced in 1824 by von Reisswitz, a lieutenant in the Prussian army, based on earlier work by his father. Today it is considered the grandfather of modern wargames. This rules set established several conventions for wargaming which hold true to the present day, such as the use of maps, color coding the opposing armies as red and blue, using umpires, and uniform, complex rules for movement and combat. Map scale was 6 to 8 inches to a mile (1:10 000), and the time scale was 2 minutes per one turn. Blocks were used to represent units.
 
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42. Board Game: The Mansion of Happiness [Average Rating:4.50 Unranked]
Taylor Liss
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Quincy
Massachusetts
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1843 AD

From here:

Quote:
The Mansion of Happiness: An Instructive Moral and Entertaining Amusement is a Christian board game designed by Anne Abbott in 1843.

...

The game was published by W. & S. B. Ives of Salem, Massachusetts in 1843, and republished by Parker Brothers in 1894. Although initially popular, its popularity diminished in the last decades of the 19th century when the focus of board games became materialism and competitive capitalistic behavior rather than morality. The 1894 republication claimed The Mansion of Happiness was the first board game published in the United States of America; the distinction however is given today to Traveller's Tour of 1822.
 
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43. Board Game: The Game of Life [Average Rating:4.05 Overall Rank:11179]
Taylor Liss
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Quincy
Massachusetts
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1861 AD

From here:

Quote:
LIFE, also known as The Game of Life, is a board game originally created in 1861 by Milton Bradley, as The Checkered Game of Life. The modern version was originally published in 1960 (then "endorsed" by Art Linkletter, with a circular picture of him on the box) by the Milton Bradley Company (now a subsidiary of Hasbro).
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44. Board Game: Crokinole [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:40]
Taylor Liss
United States
Quincy
Massachusetts
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1876 AD

From here:

Quote:
The earliest known crokinole board was made by craftsman, Eckhardt Wettlaufer in 1876 in Perth County, Ontario, Canada.
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45. Board Game: Bridge [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:300]
Taylor Liss
United States
Quincy
Massachusetts
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1886 AD

From here:

Quote:
The history of contract bridge, one of the world's most popular partnership card games, dated back to the invention of trick-taking games in the early 16th century, such as whist. Bridge itself forked off from whist with the creation of the game "Biritch" (or "Russian Whist") in the 1800s, and evolved through the late 19th and early 20th centuries to form the present game.

...

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word bridge is the English pronunciation of the game called "biritch". It followed on from whist, which initially was the dominant trick-playing game and enjoyed a loyal following for centuries. The oldest known rulebook of bridge dates from 1886 and calls it "Biritch, or Russian Whist"
 
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46. Board Game: Battleship [Average Rating:4.52 Overall Rank:11168]
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United States
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c. 1900 AD

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battleship_(game):

Quote:
The game Battleship is a guessing game played by two people. Although popularized in the United States as a commercial board game, first published in 1931 by the Starex Novelty Company of New York under the name of "Salvo", it is known throughout the world as a pencil and paper game and pre-cedes World War I in this form. It was invented by Clifford Von Wickler in the early 1900s but unfortunately he never patented the game and it was soon published by Milton Bradley Company in 1943 as the pad-and-pencil game "Broadsides, the Game of Naval Strategy".
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47. Board Game: L'Attaque [Average Rating:5.74 Overall Rank:8516]
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1908 AD

From here:

Quote:
In its present form Stratego appeared in Europe before World War I as a game called L'Attaque. Thierry Depaulis writes on "Ed's Stratego Site":

"It was in fact designed by a lady, Mademoiselle Hermance Edan, who filed a patent for a 'jeu de bataille avec pièces mobiles sur damier' (a battle game with mobile pieces on a gameboard) on 11-26-1908. The patent was released by the French Patent Office in 1909 (patent #396.795 [5]). Hermance Edan had given no name to her game but a French manufacturer named "Au Jeu Retrouvé" was selling the game as L'Attaque as early as 1910... "


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48. Board Game: Uncle Wiggily [Average Rating:4.05 Overall Rank:11112]
Taylor Liss
United States
Quincy
Massachusetts
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1916 AD

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncle_Wiggily_(game):

Quote:
The game was first published by Milton Bradley in 1916 and has seen several editions with minor modifications over the years. Uncle Wiggily remains one of the first and favorite games of childhood, and, with Candy Land, is considered a classic juvenile American board game.
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49. Board Game: Monopoly [Average Rating:4.46 Overall Rank:11175]
Taylor Liss
United States
Quincy
Massachusetts
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c. 1930 AD

From here:

Quote:
c. 1930 - Monopoly stabilises into the version that is currently popular.
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50. Board Game: Anagrams [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:5912]
Taylor Liss
United States
Quincy
Massachusetts
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1934 AD

From here:

Quote:
Reputed to have originated as a Victorian word game, Anagrams have appeared in many published versions in the last century. The first modern version seems to have been the game Anagrams published in 1934 by the manufacturer Selchow and Righter, who would later publish Scrabble in 1953.
 
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