Backgammon – My Favourite Way to Play

Hey folks!

As most people who have spent more than a minute with me in the last few years will know, I have a huge nerdy soft spot in my heart for board games. I’m going to be writing about some of my favourite games over the coming weeks and months as it is something I would love to share with everyone (and maybe get some more people to play games with!)

Today I’m going to take a little look at Backgammon. It is one of the oldest known boardgames in existence (on Earth at least…) and the game is a lot of fun to play. Despite the heavy luck factor, skill does play a large part and becomes apparent if the game is played over several rounds… usually with me losing pretty consistently to Vanessa!


I just wanted to introduce you to my favourite Backgammon variant that really changes the game and, for me, takes the fun of the game up another notch.

It’s called Buff de Balriac (combined with another variant called Acey-Duecy).

The Key Points:

  • The game starts with no pieces on the board and you roll to enter the game, just like rolling to bear off at the end.
  • Players start on opposite ends of the same side (for example, Player A takes top left quarter as their home board and Player B takes top right), then the direction of travel for A is clockwise and B is anti-clockwise.
  • Rolling a 1-2 allows you resolve the 1-2 roll, chose a double roll of your choice (i.e. double sixes), resolve that AND roll again.
  • The rest of the rules are the same as standard backgammon.

Traditional backgammon games have all the pieces starting on the board in set positions but the interesting thing about this variant, is that you start the game with all of your pieces off the board, and roll to enter the board. This makes setting up the game a breeze – taking as much time as it does to open the board up. No more remembering which pieces go where.

Secondly, because both players start on the same side of the board and the direction of play makes it a much more aggressive game. You have to cross your opponents at least twice to get to your home quarter, where normal Backgammon you only have to do this once.

White direction of play - Brown plays from top right moving anti-clockwise

White direction of play – Brown plays from top right moving anti-clockwise

The Acey-Duecy part comes from rolling a 1 and 2. It can make for some really powerful moves and makes the game extra tense hoping for that lucky roll.

Vanessa and I have played many games using this variant, and despite losing consistently to her, I keep coming back for more! I originally didn’t rate Backgammon too highly, and bought my set mainly because of how beautiful it looks (and also my secret passion for traditional and abstract games) but this variant has really pushed the game to new levels for me!

Give it a try and let me know what you think or if you know any other good variants!




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