On this side of TGON, we tend to chat about indie video games and role-playing RPGs. However, today I thought exploring some of the oldest board games known to humanity would be fun. A few years back, a 20-sided die was found in Egypt, dated somewhere between 304 and 30 BC. This got me thinking, what other old games are out there? So, today we will explore some games you probably have never heard of.

  • oldest game

The World’s Oldest Board Games


According to the Otago Museum, Senet was played around 2600 BCE to 4th Century CE and originated in Egypt. While the game’s rules are uncertain, some historians believe they have figured it out. The Otago Museum does have a virtual board game you can play, or you can print out one of their boards and bust it out during your next game night. There are a few things you will need to play:

  1. Two players
  2. The board
  3. Five counters for each player
  4. Throw sticks

Once you have your materials, follow this tutorial by History with Kayleigh. Their explanation was thoroughly enjoyable and easily digestible. Unfortunately, I am terrible at explaining game rules, and I think this will be a better tool for anyone who wants to try Senet.

Royal Game Of Ur

The British Museum states the Royal Game of Ur was played between 2600BC to 2400BC. The board was found in modern-day Iraq. Getty does have a PDF you can use to create your board, but there are a few other materials you will need to grab before playing.

  1. Two players
  2. The board
  3. Seven counters for each player
  4. A six-sided die
    1. Previous players may have used two-sided die, four-sided die, or throwing sticks

Now that you have what you need to play check out The Raven’s Table’s tutorial. This board game feels difficult to play after reading several rulesets. However, this video does make the game seem like a good time.


The National Museums Scotland explained that Hnefatafl has been popular since 400AD. It has been dubbed “The Game of Vikings” by some. Damian Walker created a printable PDF so you can play this Nordic game. You will need a few extra bits:

  1. Two players
  2. The board
  3. 37 playing pieces
    1. One to act as a King
    1. 12 defenders
    1. 12 attackers

After gathering your pieces, check out Bjorn Andreas Bull-Hansen’s tutorial on how to play Hnefatafl. It does seem like a slightly more complex version of chess. Although this does look like a game I will have to make my spouse play, he is big on Nordic history, and it could be a game I could win.

Traveller’s Tour Through the United States

I thought including the United States’ first board game would be fun. This was Traveller’s Tour Through the United States. According to the PBA Galleries, it was created in 1822. Additionally, the Bowery Boys gave a deep dive into how to play. Players would have a map of the current US territories and cities; the first person to reach New Orleans wins! A spinner was used to determine how far a player could move, as dice were seen as impure at the time. This game eventually had two spin-offs, one for Europe and the other being the world.


Board games are one of the best ways to bring people together. We play board games whenever I visit my parents and friends back home. So it is unsurprising to hear that people have been playing them for as long as they have. Have you learned anything about the world’s oldest board games? I know I have! If you want something a little more modern, check out katherineelsey’s article The Best Board Games for Every Occasion.