HUDDERSFIELD

No. 11 AREA

 Uckers

Traditionally Played in the Royal Navy

Uckers is a two or four player board game traditionally played in the Royal Navy. It is believed to have originated in the 18th/19th centuries from the Indian game "Pachisi" although the first reference to it in print does not appear until 1946. It is mentioned in a diary by EJF Records in 1937 as "Huckers".

Uckers is generally played using the rules stated below, but they vary from one branch of the Navy to another. It is similar to the board game Ludo and is based on the same principles; getting your four pieces around the board before the opposition.

However, the whole point of Uckers, and this may vary according to personal preferences, is to get all your pieces home without your opponent getting any home at all. This is known as an “8-piecer”. The ultimate win is when you get all your pieces home and your opponent has all their pieces still in the base.

Rules of the Game Played for over 100 years

Uckers is acknowledged as the leading (non-sports field) Royal Naval game, holding this status since at least World War One.

It has been consistently played in the service for well over 100 years but, as matelots never seem to record their own social history, very little can be found written, in respect to the games development. In consequence its origins are now lost in antiquity and we are left to piece together the tradition from rare notes and references.

Of strict importance in that process, is the presence of the multitude of 'rule sets' that existed between the World Wars. It was this variation that encouraged its popularity, and the variety of so many rule sets in general usage alone testifies to the games wide popularity and use. Thus provides a coincidental foundation and popularity that can be dated back over at least several earlier decades.

Prior to World War Two, every fleet (Home, China and Mediterranean Fleet, etc.) had its own particular set of rules. Perhaps the most famous amongst these are the Far East set, which can probably stake a claim to possessing the oldest, or earliest, set of rules.






The game is played by either two or four people, if there are two people playing then each player takes two opposite colours, yellow and red vs green and blue. If there are four players then the players opposite each other become partners, so yellow partners with red, and green partners with blue.

To travel around the board two dice are thrown, players moving the amount shown on the dice, a six permitting an extra turn. To see who goes first each player throws the dice and whoever throws the highest starts.

In order to exit your base it is necessary for you to throw a six, which results in you putting your piece on the coloured square joining your base known as the doorstep. However, if on the very first throw you throw snake eyes (two ones) then all your (and your partner's) pieces come out of the base onto the doorstep and play continues with the next player. If on rolling snake eyes on the first throw a player again throws snake eyes on their second throw all of their pieces return to the base.

If a player's piece lands on a square with an opponent's piece, then, as in Ludo, that piece is sent back to the opponent's base. If your piece lands on a square with a playing piece of the same colour then this is known as a blob and is basically a barrier.

An opposing piece is not allowed to jump over them, but friendly pieces can. The only way an opposing piece can get by a blob is to destroy it. To do this they will need to have a playing piece adjacent to the blob and then on their turn throw X + 1 sixes where X = the number of playing pieces forming the blob. Note that if the blob is on your doorstep, then you must throw an additional six (i.e. X + 2 sixes) to remove the blob and exit your base. If one succeeds in knocking the blob off then the single playing piece used to attack the blob is moved to the square that the blob was on and the pieces forming the blob are returned to the base. Play then continues to the next player.

If a player's piece lands on a square with a playing piece that belongs to their partner or is the other colour that you are playing with, then this is called a mixi blob (or a mixed barrier). Unlike blobs, a mixi blob is equivalent to a single playing piece so the opponent can land on the square and send all the playing bits back to their relevant bases. The opponent can pass over a friendly mixi blob, so there is no security and a friendly player cannot attack a blob that you maybe adjacent to if your piece is part of a mixi blob.
As in Ludo, one needs to roll the exact number of spaces left to get home, and if a player's pieces are in the tube then they cannot be attacked (unless they are playing FAA rules). If you are playing with a partner and they get all their pieces home first, then they can continue rolling in the hopes of getting a six. If they do roll a six, then, on your next turn, they can then roll for you and move your pieces as well. However, pieces cannot be moved by your partner once they are in the tube.




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