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Wykersham is an intriguing and competitive slide game for two players, offering a unique balance of strategy and chance. The game consists of a hardwood board (some versions have leather end boards), two dice, and 30 marbles (red and black) for each player.
The game has the look of a mancala game, except that the board consists of five rails with 11 cups each. The center rail is stationary, and the other four rails 'slide' back and forth...which makes for part of the strategy of the game. Chance is also a factor, as a die roll determines where the marbles or game pieces (30 for each player) may be played on the rails.
Players begin the game with 30 stones or marbles each, playing two stones per turn. Players alternate turns, competing to see how many of their stones can be scored and removed from the board by the end of the game. The player removing the most stones wins.
Turns consist of placing two marbles, placement being determined by the roll of the two dice. A stone must be positioned directly in front of the number shown on the players side of the board. Two stones are placed per turn. There is opportunity to slide the rail where each marble was placed. Removal (or striking off, as it is called)is accomplished by positioning the rails so that five marbles are in a straight line, vertically or diagonally, across the five interlocking rails. A player must slide a rail on his turn in order to score by removing at least five stones.
Strategy plays a part in that both players share the cups on the stationary center rail, but once a player places a stone in a cup of one of the movable rails, it may not be shared by his opponent. Thus, there are offensive and defensive aspects of the game. In addition, up to five stones may be placed in a cup. Therefore, when a player succeeds in sliding a rail to line up five cups in a row, he may or may not strike off all of the marbles in that line. He may choose to leave stones in cups with more than one stone to defend that position for future strike offs.
I've been collecting and selling board games for some time, and this is a unique, one-of-a-kind game. Though currently out of production, I have found copies on auctions. I've played it over and over, and I have yet to be disappointed or jaded by the game. Legend has it that the game dates back to the 1880's, but this may only be a marketing gimic. Nevertheless, the game has the feel of something from yesteryear and offers many enjoyable encounters at the gaming table. The typical length of a game is 30 minutes...just right for a strategy game.