Sunday, April 19, 2009

Indian Games

Scrabblette recently returned from India with a swag of Indian games for me. You'd expect a country of a billion people to have a history of unique games, but we haven't seen much evidence that's actually the case. Chaturanga is a predecessor of Chess and is an Indian game; and Parcheesi is famous in the west as Trouble and Ludo, but otherwise there don't seem to be many of them. OK, two of the most popular games of all time are Indian, but where are the modern Indian games?

One company which is trying to preserve Indian gaming heritage is Kreeda. This company is a very small operation producing affordable games for an Indian market. This concept excited me, so Scrabblette procured anything that looked interesting.

Sadly, Kreeda games are not up to the quality we've come to expect from Rio Grande (though they are about the same quality as Milton Bradley). Vanavaas and Search for Sita are simple roll-and-moves aimed at teaching children the stories of the Ramayana. Ashtaa Chemmaa is a form of Parcheesi, and Kalanay Belanay is a completely choiceless game. Sadly, the rules to Dahdi did not make it back from India (we suspect Scrabblette's nephew may be involved). Chaturvimshathi Koshtaka is almost an interesting abstract game, but suffers from the same fault as many traditional games in that the rules are not precise enough to describe a game with any tension.

The pick of the product line is Battle of Lanka, another game based on the Ramayana. For those who aren't familiar with the story, the climax of the Ramayana is a battle between Rama's army, including his champion Hanuman, and Ravana's army.

The game is a card game where players are attempting to collect larger armies than the other players; including accessories that the armies use to increase their power. The cards don't particularly match any of the Ramayana stories I've read, but I'm just a beginner in Indian culture. We found the game to be quite playable, particularly with 4 players.

I have a bunch of games from another Indian publisher as well, but this article is long enough already, so I hope to post again soon.

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