DescriptionAncient Egyptian Mehen: The Forbidden Game of the Snake is a shareware implementation of an Old Egyptian board game, probably dating from before 2,700 BC -- nearly 5,000 years old! It was played in religious ceremonies and was probably one of the first games to be banned by government, possibly due to religious reasons.
The game is played by two or more players on a spiral board. The exact rules of the game are not preserved, but there is a game with a very similar game board played by Nubian nomads and it is believed that the rules are quite near to the original.
According to these rules, Mehen is essentially a race game, but one with some twists. Two or more players, each one with one to six marbles (numbers of players and marbles can be selected before starting the game), go chase down the spiral to its the center of the spiral -- symbolizing Ra, the Sun God -- and back again by throwing casting sticks (the Old Egyptian version of dice).
The first twist is that the player does not move immediately after throwing the sticks, instead they accumulate the results until they throw a 2, and then move pieces according to the results. This gives the game some tactical depth as often there is more than one choice how to move the marbles. When the player moves onto a field that is occupied by another player's marble, this one is bumped to the bumping marble's old position. Another twist is that 1 counts as a special throw, a so-called Shinyat (meaning magic spell). Shinyat must be used for entering the board at the beginning of the game, for entering the central square and for leaving it again.
Once a player has successfully traveled the spiral in and out with all their marbles, this player wins. This doesn't mean the game ends! The winning player now starts the whole travel again, with only a lion and at double speed. As soon as the lion has entered and left the central case, any marble he passes is devoured by him. The game ends when the lion has left the board and the number of marbles each player could safely bring home determines the ranking.
The game comes with a tutorial explaining game, some atmospheric MIDI background music and 'Mummy Facts' about Old Egypt that are displayed from time to time.
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Related Web Sites
- P.S. Neeley Shareware (Official home page of the creator of the game, where you can download this and some other historical board games.)