Boardgames in the News: The Trenches of WWI

It is widely believed that there is a bit of a boardgame revolution under-way, but perhaps it actually started one hundred years ago in the trenches of WWI.  As reported by by Steve Evans in “From Our Own Correnspondent”, although it is not widely known in the UK, the game “Mensch Ärgere Dich Nicht” was devised a century ago and became popular among German troops in the trenches.  Families at home would order games from the manufacturer, who would send them straight to the frontline.

Mensch Ärgere Dich nicht

The game play is simple:  players roll dice to move their four pieces round the board with the aim of being the first to get them home again.  The name translates as “Man, Don’t Get Annoyed With Me”, which comes from the fact that players who land on another piece send it back to the start and it has to start all over again.  In the UK it’s closest relation is Ludo, but there were also a range of variants which were popular in the 1980s, like “Frustration” or “Pop-o-matic Trouble”.  The game is actually much older, however, dating back to sixteenth century India, where it is known as Pachisi, and there were similar games played by the Aztecs centuries before.