There is always more room on our bookshelves for tomes that fall into the “small but still worthwhile” category and Board Games in 100 Moves lands firmly on that shelf. Written by lifelong board games enthusiast Ian Livingstone, the book takes a chronological journey from the ancient Egyptian game of Senet to the 2018 card game Mind.
Although I should take a moment to clarify. Ian Livingstone is not just a board game enthusiast. He is the co-founder of Games Workshop, co-founder of the Fighting Fantasy series of books, and the creator of multiple board games including Boom Town, Judge Dredd, Automania, Legend of Zagor, and Dragonmasters. All of which makes him more than qualified to bring together 100 games to represent the history of this pastime.
So, diversion over, back to the book.
Do not expect to find a bland list of 100 board games with details of gameplay, rules, and strategy. Instead, Livingstone discusses the origins of gameplay in general and how over 8000 years ago, humankind felt their games were so important that they began to make them out of permanent materials rather than drawing game boards in the dirt.
The earliest of existing examples is Senet which took on an almost religious significance for the Ancient Egyptians. The movement of the game pieces, passing each other on the board, became synonymous with man’s movement from the here and now, into the afterlife. And it is these nuggets of information that make Board Games in 100 Moves eminently readable.
But there is also much much more than board game history. Filled with interesting stories behind the games and their inventors, Board Games will inform and entertain in equal measure.
And it’s not just about the words either.
The entire book is packed with beautiful illustrations, demonstrating that games are more than just basic entertainment. They can be works of art in their own right.
But There Is A BUT
If you are looking for a comprehensive history of board games or an instructional guide to strategy this is not it. But then again it never claims to be. Board Games in 100 Moves is the kind of book you can pick up, read a few pages, and put down again because there’s no need to worry about where you’ve left off or where to pick up the narrative the next time you read it. This makes Board Games the perfect little book to have sitting on a side table, ready to be picked up and delved into at any moment of the day or night.
It might not make it to the “must-have” list of the hard-core gamer but for anyone with even a passing interest in board games, Board Games in 100 Moves is well worth picking up.