Join the renaissance of the world's oldest board game!

What is the Royal Game of Ur?

The Royal Game of Ur is one of the oldest board games in the world, with evidence of it being played by people who lived over 4500 years ago! That includes many people playing and enjoying the game today! Many people enjoy the game as it is easy to learn, but hard to master.

The game is a two-player race game where both players take turns rolling their dice and moving their pieces around the board. If a player moves their piece to the same tile as an opponent's piece, they will capture it! The captured piece will have to be moved from the start of the board again. The first player to move all their pieces from the start to the end of the board wins! You can learn the rules of the Royal Game of Ur here.

In the 1920's Sir Leonard Woolley excavated four unique game boards from a royal tomb in Ur, ancient Mesopotamia. This led to the modern naming of the game as the Royal Game of Ur! The game has also been called the Game of Twenty Squares, or Pack of Dogs.

A photo of the board of the Royal Game of Ur
Photo of an excavated board of the Royal Game of Ur that is dated to 2500 BC.
© The Trustees of the British Museum.

The game is played with its unique board, 5 or 7 pieces per player, and four two-sided dice. The exact rules that were played thousands of years ago is hard to deduce (and likely changed over time!). However, academics have used ancient artifacts and the writing on old cuneiform tablets to discover several likely options. The rules that have become the most popular in this millenia are the ones presented in the 2017 YouTube video Tom Scott vs. Irving Finkel. These are the most commonly played rules on this site, although other rules are also available to try!

Join Our Community!

Whether you're a casual player or history buff, a researcher, or a pro player, everyone is welcome in our Royal Game of Ur Discord group! Many players find opponents in our group, discuss strategy, and we even conduct research about the game. We also have channels for discussing tournaments, DIY game boards, history, different rule sets, similar games, and even the development of this website! However, in my view, the best feature of our group is the community. I have made many friends from our group, and if you're interested in the Royal Game of Ur, I have no doubt you'll fit right in!

A depiction of two game pieces colliding and producing sparks

Real-Life Tournaments

The société internationale d'UR has run tournaments around the world at MIT, Harvard, Boston University, Brown, Imperial College London, and in New York City. If you are interested in keeping up-to-date with where they will run tournaments next so that you can take part, I recommend following their Instagram! These tournaments use a different, more challenging, set of rules called tournament engine. You can read more about tournament engine on our alternative rules page.

A photo of two people playing the Royal Game of Ur
A photo of two people playing the Royal Game of Ur, courtesy of the société internationale d'UR.

Buy Physical Boards

We are obviously big fans of playing board games online here at RoyalUr.net, but even we have to admit that there is something special about playing on a real, physical board. If you are looking to buy a physical board, we recommend that you check out Masters Traditional Games! I have personally met their founder, James Masters, and visited their warehouse in St Albans. James Masters' work as a games historian even led to the Masters rule set here on RoyalUr.net! Purchases made by clicking a link from RoyalUr.net will also help to support our work. Click here to visit Masters Traditional Games.

Photos of Royal Game of Ur boards sold by Masters Traditional Games
Photos of Royal Game of Ur boards sold by Masters Traditional Games.
Masters Traditional Games Banner Ad

Why was RoyalUr.net started?

In 2017, there were no great places to play the Royal Game of Ur online. So, we decided to make one!

Since then, we now boast over 1000 games played every day on RoyalUr.net, and we hope that number will continue to grow into the future with new members like you! We love this ancient game, and we believe that it should be played all around the world as a casual, fun, and history-rich game.

If you'd like to join us, we also have a rich Discord community of over 900 members where we discuss everything RGU. This community welcomes both serious and casual players, as well as academics, history aficionados, and board game lovers! You can join us by clicking this link.

A photo of a recreation of the board of the Royal Game of Ur
An intricate recreation of the Royal Game of Ur board excavated by Sir Leonard Woolley in the 1920s, created and shared with us by Veulatonra.