Backgammon is one of the oldest boardgames known, dating back more than 5000 years. It features simple rules, but often difficult choices. Its combination of luck, strategy and lots of interaction makes for a rich and rewarding game experience for players of all ages and skill levels.

Backgammon boards can be bought almost all over the world, and many of them are true works of artful craftsmanship. The characteristic design with the elongated triangular fields is easily recognizable although the details of each board will vary.
Broken down to its basics, however, the board needs only 24 spaces for movement and each player needs 15 pieces to move, so it is an easy game to recreate.

At a glance:

2 players

15 minutes

Complexity: low

Components used:

Any 12 tiles

15 cubes pr player

2 dice

Setup:

Bg-movement
Setup and movement directions on a regular board.

The same board built with the Green Box. The same board built with the Green Box.

Build a straight line of 12 tiles from the Green Box. You can use any tiles, but the board will look nicer if you choose one or two symbols and alternate between the green and the brown side.

The actual playing fields will be outside the tiles, not on them. There are 24 spaces, 12 above the line and 12 below.

The first player will move clockwise around the board, from the bottom right, moving left and around to the top right space. The second player will move counter-clockwise, from the top right space, moving left and around to the bottom right space.

Each player places 2 cubes on their starting space, and then counting in their direction of movement they must place:

5 cubes on the 12th space
3 cubes on the 17th space
5 cubes on the 19th space

Play:

To start the game, each player rolls one die, and the player with the higher number moves first using the numbers shown on both dice. If the players roll the same number, they must roll again. The players then alternate turns, rolling two dice at the beginning of each turn.

After rolling the dice, players must, if possible, move their pieces according to the number shown on each die. For example, if the player rolls a 6 and a 3 (notated as “6-3”), the player must move one piece six spaces forward, and another or the same piece three spaces forward. The same piece may be moved twice, as long as the two moves can be made separately and legally: six and then three, or three and then six. If a player rolls two of the same number, called doubles, that player must play each die twice. For example, a roll of 5-5 allows the player to make up to four moves of five spaces each.

In the course of a move, a piece may land on any space that is unoccupied or is occupied by one or more of the player’s own pieces. It may also land on a space occupied by exactly one opposing piece, or “blot”. In this case, the blot has been “hit”, and is placed outside the board. A piece may never land on a space occupied by two or more opposing pieces; thus, no space is ever occupied by checkers from both players simultaneously. There is no limit to the number of checkers that can occupy a space at any given time.

Pieces that have been hit must re-enter the game from the players starting space before any other move can be made. Using one of the rolled dice, the player makes a move from outside the board, so a 1 can move the piece into the first space. Normal rules for valid moves apply. If several of the players pieces have been hit, all of these pieces must enter the board before any other pieces can be moved. If a player has pieces outside the board, but rolls a combination that does not allow any of those pieces to re-enter, the player does not move.

The last six spaces on the board, for each players direction of movement, is called the player’s “home board”. When all of a player’s checkers are in that player’s home board, that player may start removing them. To remove a piece, it must be moved by a dice roll high enough to move it at least one space further than the board. So a piece in the 4th last space on the board can be removed by a dice roll of 4, 5 or 6. However, you may not use a higher number than necessary to remove a piece, if you also have pieces left that require the higher number. So if you have a piece on the 5th last space in addition to the 4th, a roll of 5 or 6 must first be used to remove the piece on the 5th space.

Winner:

The player who first succeeds in removing all her pieces from the board is the winner.