Introduction

Senet is an ancient Egyptian race game and the predecessor of our modern Backgammon. Many pictures of the game and artifacts have been discovered and are displayed in Museums around the world. The commonness of these finds indicates that the game was very popular in its time. The oldest known form of the game is shown in a painting from the tomb of Hesy (circa 2686-2613 BCE).

Fun Fact: This is the game played by Jacob and his brother in the episode of Lost "Across the Sea".

The Sticks

Instead of dice Senet uses 4 sticks. Each stick has a bright side and a dark side. Every bright side is a point (i.e. 2 x dark and 2 x bright = 2 points). If only dark sides are showing the player is awarded 5 points. When a 1, 4, or 5 is thrown the player gets another turn. This can happen multiple times and needs to be considered when forming a strategy.

Basic Rules

  • One must move if possible
  • Pawns in a group of 2 or more adjacent pieces can't be beaten (with the exception of the last three fields).
  • Pawns in a group of 3 or more form a block that can't be jumped (with the exception of the last three fields).
  • Landing on the House of Water moves one back to the House of Rebirth (Ankh symbol) or the first free house before it, should it be occupied.
  • To play out a pawn one needs the exact number to reach the field after last (i.e. from the House of Happines a 5 is required, a 3 from the House of Three Truths, a 2 from the House of Re-Atoum or a 1 from the last field.
  • Winner is who finishes first

Houses

The fields of the Senet board are called houses. Some of these have special significance and are adorned with icons like the Ankh symbol. The 16th square is called House of Rebirth and shows the Ankh symbol. If a pawn enters the House of Water (27) or is beaten on one of the last three fields of the board, it must be moved back to this field. Should the field be occupied by any other game piece the pawn moves to the first free field preceeding it. The 26th square is called The House of Happiness and shows the the picture of a bird. From here on pieces can be moved off the board if the first row is cleared completely. Pawns can move off the board if the number thrown is one higher than the last field.

Moving and Blocking

When moving into a field occupied by an opponent, the pieces switch places. If, however, the opponent's pawn is part of a row of two or more, it cannot be beaten. It is possible to "jump" over an opponent if it isn't part of a row of 3 pieces or more. 3 pieces are considered a block and are an important strategic tool.

 

Senet on iPad

 

Senet on iPhone

Features

  • 5 and 7 piece modes
  • 3 difficulty levels
  • Option to enforce of backwards moves
  • Option to highlight valid moves
  • Game statistics
  • Optional soundtrack during play
  • Fully animated
  • Resumable games
  • Senet Deluxe is localized into Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish

Available for:

iOS

Mac