Ludus latrunculorum


I came upon this book while readingĀ ‘The Wall’, a story about the construction and general history of Hadrian’s Wall. It mentioned this Roman game in the sense that records in the area allowed extrapolating that soldiers on-duty (off-duty in the daily sense, one would think) were keen players.

So, how does it work? Obviously there are uncertainties, mostly to do with the size of the board as well as how the pieces worked. From the postulation in the book I read, the author favours a look to the game where all pieces are of the same kind, more checkers than chess, and where the lengths of individual movements of pieces are determined by a dice throw, with all of them able to move like a rook in chess.

This already makes for an interesting game though obviously being able to fix the board would be an advantage — though, nothing is to say that the board could not have wildly changed throughout the years, or indeed that the size of the board mattered at any point in time.

From what the Wikipedia article provides (aside the obvious controversies in which I have already chosen a side above), the taking of an opponent’s piece could be done by surrounding it with one on either side — giving the game a slightly go-look. Indeed, this sort of a positioning, accounted for by the dice (and player) Fortuna approves of, must have been a delightfully enjoyable game.