3 in 1 – Backgammon, Chess, Checkers

Backgammon

Hey folks! I got a new game from Spin Master games. This game comes with a folding board, wooden game pieces, and dice! That’s right, it’s a dice chucker and strategy game! Some of my favorite games us throwing dice as part of the game, and I always love games that use wood components.

Now, I know I said it’s a new game. It’s a new to me game. It’s a game that’s been around 5,000 years. It has origins in the Mesopotamia region. It uses dice and “men” or checkers. Guess the game yet? If you guessed Backgammon you’re correct! If you didn’t guess Backgammon, I bet you were close. Everyone gets a virtual participation trophy either way!

I’m very late to posting this for national Backgammon Day. For those that want to schedule games to celebrate next year’s National Backgammon Day, it’s held on March 21st.

My son has been very interested in checkers. I love seeing the wheels turn as he’s playing the game, the strategies he’s picking up, and how he’s trying to plan a head. So, while I never played Backgammon it was one that I thought we’d have fun with.

Components

  • 32 Chess Pieces
  • 30 Checkers
  • 2 Dice
  • 1 Game Board

Set Up

  1. Open the game board and place it in the center of the table. The side we’re using for Backgammon has the points on the board.
  2. Each player picks a color to play, selects that color, and sits opposite of the other player.
  3. The lighter color sets up first. Starting across from them, the place 5 checkers in the top left corner and 2 checkers in the top right corner.
  4. Then, counting the points on the bottom, starting from the left side place 3 checkers on point 5 and 5 checkers on point 7. I’ll show a picture of how it should look after the set up process.
  5. The darker color player sets up opposite of the light player. Making sure to mimic the exact amount of checkers on the point across from the light player.

Game Play

To win, you’re trying to be the first player to bear off, or remove, all 15 of your game pieces. Players are moving in opposite directions, first trying to get all their pieces in their home board before bearing off.

  1. Both players roll a die. The player with the higher roll goes first, but uses the numbers rolled to determine first player.
  2. Moving. You move your pieces around the board going towards your home board. Movement is going from the top right to top left, then moving the pieces to the bottom left and to the bottom right.
    1. Roll both dice and move one or two pieces. If moving 1 piece, combine both the dice and move exactly that total. If moving 2 pieces, move two separate checkers the exact amount on one of the die before using the other.
    2. You can move your checker to a point with no game pieces on it, a point with your game pieces, or a point with only 1 opponent checker.
    3. Capture – Moving your checker on a point with only 1 opponent checker, you capture that checker. Move the opponents checker to the center bar.
    4. Captured Checkers – Before you move any of your checkers on the board, you must move any of your captured checkers onto the board. They start in the opponents home board.
    5. Doublets – If you roll doubles, you may make move the number of 1 die four times.
    6. Blocked Point – When two checkers are on a point, it’s blocked from the other player.
  3. Bearing Off. Once you have all 15 checkers in your home board you can start bearing off.
    1. Roll the dice and move the checkers exactly the number rolled off the board. If a checker is 4 points from the edge of the board, it needs a 4 to be rolled.
    2. First player to bear off all their checkers is the winner.

Final Thoughts

So it was a little confusing the first play through. I think it was getting behind the idea of what color is sitting where and what direction they were moving. Once I got that down, then the fun really started. If you like checkers and games like Sorry or Aggravation, I can see you liking this more classic strategy game. You’re trying to get all your checkers off the board, trying not to get caught by the other player, and just trying to roll the right numbers.

Some luck, some strategy when playing. Now, part of the aggravation of aggravation is unlucky rolls. That’s not getting the exact number you need to move on the board. I like that in this game, you have options for your roll. First, you have any of your points you can move from, but in addition to that, you make the choice if it’s one large move or two separate moves. That combined with hunting/capturing opponent checkers makes it seem pretty strategic. There’s this cat and mouse aspect of the game you can try to achieve while playing. Sure, you’re going in opposite directions and it’s bound to happen, or you can actively decide to take a shorter route to make it harder for the opponent.

Components wise, it’s a nice wooden board and checkers. I like that the checkers have a design to them, and it’s not just wooden discs. The stain on them are pretty good as well. I like that you store everything in the folding board. I’ve had backgammon boards on my game room wall for a while as decorations. It’s just something nice and simplistic looking about them. The chess pieces and chessboard are nice as well.

Overall, if you’re looking for a nice intro to backgammon, checkers, or chess then this set from Spin Master Games will be just the right thing for you. If you enjoy checkers and want something a little different, then give Backgammon a try!

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