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9 Traditional Games - Board, Dice, and Card Games

Updated on January 10, 2019
viryabo profile image

Viryabo, always a games buff for over five decades. From snakes & ladders at a young age, chess as an adult, and now to video and e-games...

Despite hundreds of new-age digital games that flood the market today, many of us still love and miss traditional games of the past century and some even way beyond that period like chess, which is claimed to be about 1500 years old, and backgammon, a 'staggering' 5000-year-old game!

Do you remember these traditional games? Those card, dice and board games that held us spend-bound for hours?
Do you remember these traditional games? Those card, dice and board games that held us spend-bound for hours? | Source

Traditional Games

Do you remember how over half a century ago we thought board games like Ludo and Snakes & Ladders were the best dice games on earth? Do you remember your first attempt at playing dominoes?

This article is about some of those classic games, the ones many of us truly loved and sometimes miss.

1. Ludo - Board Game

A very easy board game, Ludo is for 2 or 4 players. Players play by racing their tokens from start to finish, depending on dice rolling.

You must throw a six on the dice before you can make your first move from the home area and onto the starting square.

Subsequently, a player moves according to the dice throwing result, moving 1 to 6 steps at a time.

When a player throws a 6 the player may bring a new piece onto the starting square, or may choose to move a piece already in play.

If a piece falls on an opponent's piece in the course of moving on the board, the opponent's piece is captured (or 'pecked'!) Opponent's captured token then goes back to the home or start position.

There exists the doubling rule where a token of the same colour lands on another of the same colour. In this case, it serves as a blockade against the other players. And he can decide to open up this blockade when he pleases, or when he has no other option but to move on.

On completion of a circuit of the board, a token moves up the home column of its colour.

The player must throw the exact number to advance to the home square. The winner is the first player to get all four of their pieces onto the home square.

Ludo game is a simplified version of a traditional Indian game known as Pachisi.

How to Play Ludo

2. Snakes & Ladders - A Board and Dice Game

Snakes and Ladders is a classic board game, mainly for children, but enjoyed by adults playing games with kids.

The playing board is made up of a grid with numbers from 1 to 100, which varies from board to board but most commonly 8x8, 10x10 and 12x12.

Ladders are drawn haphazardly on the board, always connecting two squares. There are snakes drawn on the board as well, which also connects 2 squares in the grid at different positions from the ladders.

This fun game plays up to 4 players and the goal is to get up to square 100 by getting around the snakes and trying to climb up the ladders to gain an advantage.

Each player has to try to prevent its opponents from getting to the top, or 100, first. This can be done by using various power-ups, which can be used to an advantage, or to slow down the other players.

Snakes and ladders games are known by many as Chutes & Ladders.

3 Dominoes

Dominos are simple building blocks assembled in many ways to create a large variety of games that require great skill and strategy.

They are something of a generic game, like playing cards and dice and consist of playing blocks (or tiles as its also called), with black dots on a white background.

The dominoes are shuffled face down in circles with the flat of the hand - producing a sound that has been familiar down the centuries. It is played by 4 people in 2 teams. Each player draws 6 dominoes and places them so that the other players can't see their value.

The 1st person to play is the player holding the double-six and if that isn’t available at the start, then it will be the double-five, and so on. The tile played must be the double tile that permitted the player to take the first turn. If none of the players hold a double, then the tiles are reshuffled and drawn again.

The objective of the game is to be the first team to reach 7 points. The game consists of a number of hands, each of which is worth one or more points, depending on the bid. After the game, remaining dominoes are referred to as the 'sleeping tiles'.

Dominos are considered the national game of many Caribbean countries and is particularly popular in Latin America

How to Play Dominoes

4. Mancala Games

Mancala, a group of games that originate from Africa, is in a way similar to Dominoes and Card games in that it’s a group of games which fall under a heading.

Also called Ayo, Oware, or Aware, this game is played on a board of sorts, with 2 rows, or ranks, with 12 holes and two store pits at each end used to hold the winnings.

There are variations to this board, as some can have more holes on either side or more rows, to create four rank Mancala boards.

Traditionally, the Mancala boards are not carved out very intricately. That is why they become smooth and worn by many years of play.

Before this though, some games were played with holes dug in the earth or carved out of stone.

The playing pieces were small stones, seeds or beans. These pieces are placed in or moved from hole to hole during play.

R.C Bell, in "Board and Table Games from Many Civilisations", describes how Aware has a traditional spiritual significance. It is played in a house of mourning to amuse the spirit of the dead before it is buried.

Objectives of Mancala games is to capture more pieces (or seeds) than the opponent, leaving the opponent with no legal move, or to have your side empty first in order to win.

How to Play Mancala

5. Monopoly Board Games

The monopoly game, one of the best selling board games in the world, is one game where you have the chance to wheel and deal your way to the top any way you choose. It offers the thrill of getting rich quick and acquiring various properties along the way.

Named after the economic concept of the domination of the market by a single entity, it involves a bit of luck, with the rolling of the dice. This is a determining factor of the dice throw result, as it can allow a player to own key properties or lands on squares with high rents.

Also, the initial misfortune of going last is a significant disadvantage because one is more likely to land on a property which has already been bought and therefore be forced to pay rent to the owner, instead of having the opportunity to purchase his own property.

The players are represented by tiny metal pieces moved around the perimeter of the board, depending on the throw of the 2 dice.

They are a Wheelbarrow, Battleship, and Horse with a rider, a Train, a thimble, Cannon, Boot, a Dog, a Top hat and an Iron.

The board has 40 spaces with 28 properties, 4 'go to jail' spaces at the corners of the board, a luxury tax space, an income tax space, 3 community chest spaces, and 1 free parking space.

When the game 'monopoly' emerged, it became immensely popular and I was one of the "monopoly mania" set and enjoyed it for many years. It was so exciting "buying and selling properties” and my passion for this game fuelled my interest in the Real Estate and building industries.

How to Play Monopoly

6. Backgammon Game

Backgammon is a board game with an aspect of a little luck, but with a large scope of strategy.

A game for 2 people and a member of the tables’ game family, backgammon is one of the oldest board games in the world.

There are many variations of the game but they all share similar traits.

With each roll of the dice, a player must choose from numerous options for moving his checkers and anticipate possible counter-moves by the opponent

The objective of the backgammon game is to be the first to get your checkers off the board before your opponent does. Players may raise the stakes during the game. There is an established repertory of common tactics and occurrences.

Backgammon has joined the class of computerized games where the software that has been developed is capable of beating human players.

How to Play Backgammon

7. Scrabble - Traditional Board Game

Scrabble was, and still is a game that will help any child develop their spelling skills, as the players can make deft spelling moves to score very high marks. Plus it helps you discover words you've never heard of, let alone know their meanings.

A classic board game of half luck and half skill; Scrabble is a word game in which 2 or 4 players form words from individual letters placing them on a board with a 15 x 15 grid.

Words are formed in crossword fashion, across this grid, and the words spelled out on the boards must be found in a standard dictionary. However, there are permissible words for the game which can be found in "The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary". There is also the "Collins Scrabble Checker which can also be used to check if a word is acceptable.

There are 100 tiles, marked with a letter and a number, with the numbers ranging from 1 to 10. Common letters, especially vowels, are usually worth just a few points. Less common letters such as Q, Z and X carry higher points and so give higher scores if used to form any word. There are 2 blank tiles that carry no point, but can be used to substitute any letter. Once placed on the board, the choice remains fixed.

Within the grid are colours such as dark red, pink, and dark blue and light blue. These coloured squares are premium spots where scores are multiplied and can be doubled or tripled, letter or numbers.

The middle square is marked with a logo and counts as a double-word square.

How to Play Scrabble Board Game

8. Chess

Chess is one of the oldest games of skill known to man and has become the true game of the brain.

Chess games enhance the power of thought in people who play regularly and is known to enhance and sharpen the intellect of young players.

Some historians date it as early as the 2nd century, but many believe playing a form of chess started as early as the 7th century. There is documented evidence to prove this.

The games' boards can be made from many diverse materials, ranging from exotic natural woods to granite slabs, glass, and fine marble, to produce exquisite works of art.

The board's grid is divided into 64 squares, arranged in an 8 by 8 fashion, which traditionally, has black and white as the most popular colours.

The chess pieces, 16 white and 16 black, range from basic plastic pieces with magnetic bottoms on the base so that they stick to the board, to intricately hand carved works of art.

The pieces, arranged on the 2 ends for the 2 players, with 16 pieces per player, consist of 1 King, 1 Queen, 2 Rooks, 2 Bishops, 2 Knights and 8 pawns.

Each piece has its own different moves:

  • The King can only move 1 square at a time, in any direction
  • The Queen can move diagonally and in a straight line as well
  • The Knights can only move in an L-shaped fashion
  • The Bishops can only move diagonally
  • The Rook can only move in a straight line
  • The pawn can move in a straight line, but can only capture a piece diagonally forward, and only a square away.

The objective of the game is to checkmate your opponent's king, whereby the king is under direct attack, with no way to prevent it from an attack on any further move.

Today, chess has come a long way since 1945, when Alan Turing used chess playing as an example of what a computer could do.

In 1950 the first chess computers were born, and now the most popular chess games are either played individually against a hand held chess computer or played on-line either against a computer or across the internet with unseen opponents.

Interesting Chess Game Presented by Serguei Vorojtsov

9. Traditional Card Games

When it comes to playing cards, countless games exist, including families of related games. Some games have formally standardized rules, while rules for others can vary by region, culture, and person.

Cards are the main thing to play in any card game and winning a card game primarily rests on mother luck.

At the beginning of a game, cards are distributed to each player by one chosen player. This act is referred to as dealing. This distribution could be clockwise, or anti-clockwise, depending on which part of the world you come from.

Before dealing out the cards, the player shuffles the cards, to put the cards into a random order. During the shuffle, the dealer holds the cards so that he or she and the other players cannot see any of the card faces.

Some card games revolve around waging of money. These games are played mainly in casinos, or at gambling card games.

An example is Poker, where players bet against each other. Other classic card games like Blackjack have players play and bet against the house. Poker is one of the most universally-known card games in existence.

Some games can be played alone (1 player) and an example of this is Solitaire. Most Solitaire games begin with a specific layout of cards, called a tableau, and the object is then either to construct a more elaborate final layout, or, to clear the tableau and the draw pile, or stock, by moving all cards to one or more "discard" or "foundation" piles.

There are "trick-taking" games, based on playing multiple rounds, or tricks. Here, each player plays a single card from their hand and based on certain values, one player wins or "takes" the trick.

The specific object varies with each game and can include taking as many tricks as possible, taking as many scoring cards within the tricks won as possible, taking as few tricks as possible, or taking an exact number of tricks. Bridge, Tarot card games, Spades, and Hearts are popular examples of trick-taking card games.

Simple to learn, fun to play!


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© 2009 viryabo


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    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      Me too @RITA

      Traditional games do still have their own unique place in the games industry, with many wonderful variations of the classics.

      Thanks for visiting.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      I like old game

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      It is in reality a great and helpful piece of information. I am glad that you shared this useful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Nice nostalgic list of board games. I never heard of ludo or mancala. But I've heard of parchesi and the others. I never did chess either. Nice hub. Voted up!

    • Trsmd profile image


      7 years ago from India

      I used to play online only.. Not offline..

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hi Jerrykeyz. I believe it is called 'draft' locally, and is a real favourite of the locals.

      Its really the same good old draught game and the playing board is the same as the chess board. Its name is draught.

      You could DIY. Just get a chess board and you can buy your own seeds using chips, or what we call counters - you know, those disc shaped game chips. Just the 2 different colours, and voila! you have a 'draft' game set.

      I hope this helps.

      Thanks for the visit jerrykeyz.


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I was actually looking for a Nigerian board game locally called "draft". its board is the same chess except that it has 100 tiles and 20 seeds to each player. all seed has an equal movements (single step diagonal) until it gets to the opposite side of the board, then it is crowned king and can move giant steps diagonally. I played it once but I've forgotten its name and I really feel like playing it.

      pls if you know how I can get it, I will really appreciate cos its my fa4ryt game. I don't know it's refined name. and that's the major problem.

      I'm positive I'll get help here. tnx in anticipation!

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hi Bonniejjones, nice to see you again. How's it going?

      I'm definitely off to view the site. I'm sure i'll get a lot of info there on Party games. You just opened up an idea for a new hub. Party games. LOL!!

      Thank you so much for your visit bonnie and thank you for the info.

      Cheers and GodBless.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I just found out that GAMES MAGAZINE ranked Triviathon no. 1 in the U.S. and no. 2 in the world in the Party Games category. Go to to see all of the awards that Triviathon has been awarded in the last year.

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hello Bonniejjones, thank you for your visit. Board games do encourage interaction as you rightly said. With the new video game age, kids tend to enjoy the solo aspect, playing with or against an unknown player. IMO, they dont really mind losing a game to that unseen opponent. Not to be encouraged. There should be a mix.

      Thanks for your comment.


    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Board games are a great alternative to video games because they get kids (big and small) interacting with real people. Our new favorite is Triviathon. My grandkids and I had so much fun playing it that even our teenager asked to join in the game.

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      I have never played black jack or roulette yet. Always wanted to learn how to play blackjack but never got round to it. Will try out the site you mentioned sometime.

      Thank you for your visit arindam.


    • arindam1234 profile image


      9 years ago

      u r so enthusiasts on board game, ludo, card game, chess. Have u ever played blackjack or roulette? thing these r more interesting than u already experienced. If u know more, then u can download and play casino games to earn big bucks and to feel the real heat. is a site which i have experienced those and i really big guy by that. u may try ur luck.

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for the visit. The traditional games are still very much around us today, and luckily some of them, if not most, is now electronic.

      Glad you love your new game.


    • profile image

      Giant Ludo 

      9 years ago


      I've just bought one of these games whil;st visting the US, I love it, really worth the money.




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