Overview

Urgency is an asymmetric strategic race game where players choose their own rules and no two games are the same.  Based on the oldest complete board game, The Royal Game of Ur, which dates back to 2600 BCE, Urgency modernizes the rules to create a fast-paced, customizable, medium-strategy board game.

 

The game starts with the same rules as translated and interpreted by historians from a cuneiform tablet.  More rules are chosen and added to play via rule cards when players score.  Players strategize and adapt their rules throughout the game with their choice of a deck of 6 rule cards (Control, Movement, or Attack)

Become a part of board game history by playing this modernized, ancient game of strategy and competition!  

Everything included in the box

Gameplay

Players: 2, ages 10 and up

Goal: Be the first to score 5 of your 7 tokens around the board.

Movement: Roll all 4 of your dice, count the number of black pips facing up, and move one of your tokens that many spaces.

Combat:

Basic - If you land on an opponent's token in the center row, you attack it and remove it from the board, unless it is on a safe tile.

Special - Many rule cards enable you to attack the opponent's tokens in ways other than by landing on them (see the Bull deck's Iron Sword card below).

Playtesters at a Game Maker's Guild meetup

Playtesters at Playcraft Boston's Winter Play Game Expo

Rosette Tiles:

White - Landing on a White Rosette tile grants you another roll.

Black - In addition to rolling again, you are safe from all attacks.

Scoring: When players score, they get a benefit from their Rosette card, but the opponent gets to select a new rule card too. This balancing mechanic ensures close games with high competition.

Rule Cards:

Rosette Deck - Players begin the game with one Rosette rule card that provides a benefit upon scoring. (Link to Rosette Deck)

Player Decks - Players select one of the three unique player rule decks at the beginning of the game, Control Deck: Lion, Movement Deck: Ibex, and Attack Deck: Bull.  Each deck of 6 cards has distinct focuses and strengths (see below).  Players shuffle these cards and make 3 piles of 2 cards at the beginning, adding rules one at a time when their opponent scores. 

Choose your playstyle...

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Lion Deck

Focus on controlling opponent

Ibex Deck

Focus on enhanced movement

Bull Deck

Focus on attacks

History

The board and pieces pictured on the right were excavated in the late 1920's in Iraq.  They were found in the Royal Tomb of Ur, naturally leading the game to be named the Royal Game of Ur by historians.  It dates back to 2600 BCE during the Third Dynasty of Ur in ancient Mesopotamia, making it one of the oldest board games in human history.  Similar boards have been found in the region, with only slight changes to it over thousands of years.

In 1879, a clay cuneiform tablet (pictured below) was excavated in Babylon, dating back to 177 BCE.  British Museum historian Dr. Irving Finkel translated this tablet in 2007 and discovered that it describes the rules to the Royal Game of Ur, making it the oldest complete board game in the world.

Development

The rules outlined on the tablet describe a modified version of the original game that includes betting and fortune telling; however, several historians have recreated a simplistic version in efforts to play the game as it was originally played.  However, nobody knows how it was actually played so long ago by the royalty in ancient Ur.

This is where you come in!

By playing Urgency, you continue the legacy of this ancient game and construct your own version of the game with the palette of rules offered by the unique rule card decks.

Inspiration for Urgency originated from this Tom Scott video of a full playthrough of the Royal Game of Ur with expert Irving Finkel. I was fascinated by the game and loved its history, but left the video obsessed with the beautiful game board and imagining what each tile might have meant thousands of years ago. I came up with a rule related to the tile I came to refer to as the Throne because it is the only unique tile on the board, and Dr. Finkel's interpretation of the rules do not mention it. But I didn't stop there, and a week later in May 2017 I had a full prototype with two decks and a handmade wooden board. I have been developing it since then while working towards my Masters degree in Game Science and Design at Northeastern University. I have developed dozens of rule card iterations and playtested hundreds of times with people of all ages, who have enjoyed the light strategy and unique history of Urgency.

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© 2019 by Alex Coburn.

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Boston, MA