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How to Play French Military Game

The French Military Game is a 19th century game played with just 4 pieces: 3 hunters and 1 prey. It was popular among French officers during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. Also known as Hare & Hounds, it is one of the smallest hunt games. Mathematician Martin Gardner, writer of monthly column “Mathematical Games” in Scientific American stated that the game “combines extreme simplicity with extraordinary strategic subtley.”

Step 1: Arrange the Pieces

Arrange the pieces on the board according to the following layout:

French Military Game Layout

Step 2: Learn the Rules

  • The hunter starts first.
  • The hunter may move a piece one spot along a line to the right horizontally, diagonally or vertically. (i.e. Hunters can’t move backwards).
  • The prey may move one step in any direction along a line (backwards or forwards).

Hunters wins by trapping the prey so that it can no longer move.
Prey wins by passing all the hunters and reaching the other end of the board.

If the hunter doesn’t advance to the right in 10 moves, the prey wins.

Step 3: Switch

After the first game switch sides and play again.