I have been fascinated with this game since I discovered it in an article on the BBC website. The following picture is from that article and remains copyright of the BBC. It shows a Tuareg tribesman playing Dara, with the board drawn in the sand of the Sahara. Those are Colonial era rifle cartridges being used as pieces.
I searched the net and wrote myself a guide to the game using the information that agreed from half a dozen sites. Having discovered the requirements and inspired by the above picture, I built my own travelling Dara set:
The cartridges came from a militaria collecting friend, the nuts from my local hardware store. The board is a piece of 2mm leather with the lattice for the 5cm squares scored in using a soldering iron. The tin is the overkill packaging that a wallet came in, of all things.
To try this game out, you need nothing so extravagant. The board is 30 squares in a 5 square by 6 square grid. Each of the two players needs 12 pieces.
The game is played as follows - Yes, there are only seven rules:
- Each player takes turns putting a counter on the squares of the board until all 24 counters are on the board.
- Each player takes a turn moving a counter into an adjacent empty square. Counters may be moved up, down, or sideways, but not diagonally.
- When a player gets three counters in a row, they get to remove one of their opponent's counters. This is known as "eating" the enemy.
- Players may not have more than three counters in a row at any time.
- A row made while placing all the counters on the board in does not count.
- Only one counter at a time may be removed from an opponent, even if more than one row is formed by a move.
- The game is won when your opponent can no longer make a row.
From the few games I have had, the initial set up where pieces are placed on the board is critical.
Unattributed content Copyright 2011 Julian M. Miles