Urgency is 2-player strategic race board game based on the oldest complete board game in the world, the Royal Game of Ur. It builds on the tradition of that game by adding asymmetric and strategic gameplay with unique rule cards that modify the rules as you play.


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!  

Urgency was successful on Kickstarter!

Kickstarter Link:

Missed the Kickstarter? Limited copies still available:

Everything included in the box


Players: 2, ages 10 and up

Goal: Be the first to score 6 of your 7 tokens around the board.

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


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...

Lion Deck

Focus on controlling opponent

Ibex Deck

Focus on enhanced movement

Bull Deck

Focus on attacks


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.

Rule tablet dating back to 177 BCE


Game board dating back to 2600 BCE


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.

The evolution of one card

First version of Urgency from May 2017


On May 22nd, 2020 I will be launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of hundreds of copies of Urgency for those who want to play it.  I have finalized designs, lined up manufacturers, and am planning the logistics of production in preparation for the campaign.  There is still time for you to help decide the quality of the components (thickness of cards, box inserts, piece bags, etc.) and how many expansions there will be (new decks, new game modes), through the campaigns' stretch goals.  Please sign up for my mailing list below to get the most up-to-date news on the campaign and when you can buy your copy.

CNC machine cutting 5 boards at once

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.

A prototype of the wooden version of the board

There will be two main versions: wood and cardboard. The wooden version is being cut with a CNC machine and finished to a high quality by hand by Kelvin and Jane George (Kelsie's parents). The cardboard version will come on a folding board and fit inside a very portable 6.5"x5.5" box and will be priced lower.

A prototype of the cardboard version of the game


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© 2020 by Alex Coburn.

Denver, CO, USA

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