Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bagha Chal


Bagha Chal, also known as Bagh-Chal or Jumping Tigers, is a fairly unique game from Nepal. It’s a descendant of Alquerque, but it’s quite different. First off, it’s an asymmetric game, which is cool in itself. Secondly, the pieces are goats and tigers. Like, the animals. Yes.

Like in real life, tigers kill goats by jumping over them, and goats protect themselves by fencing in the tigers so they can’t jump anywhere. I saw it on Planet Earth.


The game is played on an Alquerque board with twenty "goats" and four "tigers" -- basically just different tokens. Grab a board here and use coins or any other token as goats and tigers.



The game begins with the four tigers in the corners and all the goats off the board. Pieces are placed on intersections of lines, not in the squares themselves, just like Alquerque.


Each player moves differently, with players alternating turns. Like every other board game. Kind of unnecessary to tell you that. Goats go first.


The rules for goats are broken up into two phases: in the beginning of the game, the goat player places one goat on any empty intersection each turn. After all twenty goats have been placed, they can begin moving. Goats, once captured, can’t be placed back on the board (even if they’re captured during the placing phase).

Goats move one space at a time along the lines. They can’t jump over anything. Stumpy legs.

The goat player wants to block the tigers so that they have no legal moves. Once all the tigers are fenced in, goats win (if you're missing five or more goats, this is impossible, and tigers win).


Tigers can move along the lines one space at a time. If they are adjacent to a goat, and there is an empty intersection beyond it, the tiger can jump the goat, removing it from play. Once five goats have been captured, the tiger player wins.

There is some contention about the specifics of jumping. There are three possible rules:

  1. Tigers can only jump one goat per turn.
  2. Tigers can jump multiple goats, but only if each jump is in the same direction as the last.
  3. Tigers can jump multiple goats in any direction.

Players should decide the rules to play with before the game. From my understanding, the first rule is the most "traditional," but it does make the game a little unbalanced in favor of the goats for more experienced players. Consider playing with the second or third rule if you find the game a little unfair. Or if you’re just whiny. Or if you’re playing tigers and your friend doesn’t know the alternatives.

clip_image003Victory for the goats