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How to Play the Royal Game of Ur

The Royal Game of Ur dates back to 2600 B.C. It is the most complete ancient board game known to date. In 1926, Sir Leonard Woolley discovered the board and pieces while excavating the royal tombs in Ur. This ancient Mesopotamian city is located in now modern day Iraq and is said to be the birthplace of Abraham (Genesis 11:31). British Museum’s curator Irving Finkel discovered the rules on a cuneiform tablet where both the board and tablet are on display.

Step 1: Start with a Blank Board

Royal Game of Ur

Step 2: Learn the Rules

  • Each player receives 7 pieces and 3 casting tokens (can be sticks, coins, etc.)
  • The starting player casts their 3 tokens, count the value, and move a piece that many spaces.

  • Player 1 starts by entering a piece through the square marked with the letter ‘A’ and follow the path off the board to letter ‘B’.

The Path

  • Player 2 follows a similar path but on their side.

  • If you land a square occupied by the other player’s piece and it’s not on a marked square, the opponent’s piece is knocked off the board and must start over.

  • If a piece is on a marked square, it is safe from being knocked off.

  • If you land a marked square, you can cast/roll again. You don’t necessarily have to move that piece.

  • Once you made your way around the path, you must roll/cast the exact value to leave the board.

The first player to move all 7 of their pieces off the board wins.