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Game Review

Royal Game of India

Selchow & Righter
Game © 1959, 1967, 1975 Selchow & Righter Company
game board
Uncle's Games link

2-4 Players 30+ minutes


Race your pieces around the board -- opponents my form blockades and send your pieces back to the start while racing.


Players start at a specific entry point on the board that matches their chosen color pawns. All four pawns are placed in the entry space, just off of the main track of the board. Players roll dice to see who plays first.

Note: You may notice variances from the game you grew up with... different publishers of the game may have slightly different rules even though the overall game is the same.

On each turn, two six sided dice are rolled to move pawns. Play passes to the left.

A player may only enter a pawn onto the board when they roll a five. The five may be on one die or a combination of two dice. If double fives are rolled, two pawns must be entered. Once entered, the pawn may move the rest of the spaces allowed by the other die (if you have it available.)

Once a pawn is entered, it may move around the board. It may move the number of spaces that are rolled on one or both dice -- that is, you can break up your roll between two pawns, but the spaces moved must mach the numbers on each die.

After all four of a players pawns are entered, if doubles are rolled (same number on both dice) -- the player may count 14 spaces and move up to all four of his men. The 14 comes from using the top and bottom numbers on the dice rolled, e.g. two 6 and two 1. The catch is that all 14 spaces must be moved, otherwise the die roll is forfeited!

An additional benefit of rolling doubles is that you get to roll again. You may roll doubles two times in a row and be okay, but rolling a third double in a row causes you to move the pawn nearest to home (the goal) back to the start -- where it needs entered again. (Ouch!)

When two pawns of the same color share the same space, this is called a blockade. No other pawns from any player may pass the blockade. There is no time limit for keeping a blockade in place. When a player moves a pawn out of the blockade, the two pawns from the original blockade may not end up on the same space to form a new blockade.

When a player's pawn lands on a spot where a single opponent's pawn rests (by exact count of a die roll), then the opponent's pawn is captured and sent back to the start to be re-entered. For capturing a pawn, the player may move a bonus 20 spaces with one pawn -- if all 20 spaces cannot be moved by a single pawn, the bonus is forfeited.

After having moved all the way around the board, pawns enter a path to the center of the board specific to their color. In this home path, they may not be captured. To enter the center of the board (home) -- the pawn must arrive by exact count of a die roll. The goal is to get all four of your pawns home before any other player.

game in play

the home stretch

Winning Conditions:

  • The first player who places all four of his pawns at the center of the board (home) wins.

Our Opinion:

Thumbs Up!Everyone thinks they know how to play this game, because we all grew up playing it. Read the rules, and refresh your memories! There are nuances that you've forgotten that make this game a classic.

We enjoyed playing this game a lot. In fact, it was short enough that we played it four times over 3 hours. The rules about re-rolling doubles -- and summing doubles to 14 were constantly analyzed. Such simple items that no one remembered from childhood really made the game more interesting. It gave it a renewed sense of strategy.

Playing with three players is a bad idea unless you want to help a player learn (as in a small child). The zombies found that in a three player game one player is given an unfair advantage: there is no opponent directly in front of them. They may move freely over half of the board without becoming entangled in a blockade or being captured. The other two players will collide and constantly be tripping over each other simply because the free person can blockade them without having to worry about a loss of movement. By the time the blockade must be broken, a good player will have the other two pawns home.

As we noted, we had all played this game before as kids. There were no great surprises in the playing -- except that adult strategies are a bit crueler than children's versions. this is a great family game. There are simple rules that any age can learn. The game is well known, so you can play with most casual acquaintances without too much worry. Find a copy of this game for your family -- don't pay too much... but do get this one. It'll stay around forever.

As you may have noticed by the copyrights and pictures, my copy is older. Newer sets have different artwork or playing pieces. If you shop around, you can find a style that best suits your taste.

Where to buy:

Any local toy store -- including Target or WalMart. New copies cost about $10.

Uncle's Games link

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