Games of the Month: Nyout (Horses)

by Dagonell the Juggler

Nyout is a Korean game dating back to the 3rd century. The Spanish Conquistadors recorded a virtually identical game being played by the Mayans when they arrived in the New World. The existence of the same game in two widely separated areas has been offered as part of the evidence for a theory that there was an Asiatic visit to the Western hemisphere back in the 8th century. The theory remains unproven.

The game may be played by two, three, or four players. Two players would have four markers or horses each. Three players would have three horses. Four players would have two horses each and pair up as teams alternating turns. A player may move his partner's horse on his turn. The game board is a race track of twenty spaces arranged in a circle. An additional nine spaces form a cross in the center of the board.

                                  F
                              S       o
                           o      o      o
                          o               o
                         o        o        o
                         
                         A  o  o  X  o  o  C
                         
                         o        o        o
                          o               o
                           o      o      o
                              o       o
                                  B

Players throw four lots to determine their move. Think of it as flipping four coins. One to four "heads" allows one horse to move the same number of spots. Four "tails" entitles the player to move his horse five spaces. Additionally, on a move of four or five, the player is allowed an extra throw. If two or more of a player's (or team's) horses finish a turn on the same space, they may be "hitched" together and move as a single horse for the remainder of their journey around the board. If a horse finishes his turn on a space occupied by an opponent's horse, the opponent's horse must start over. Hitched horses must re-enter as single pieces.

Horses enter at the space marked S and proceed counterclockwise around the board and leave at the space marked F. If a horse ends a turn on one of the three spots where the circle intersects the cross, marked A, B & C in the diagram, on his next turn he must proceed down the arm of the cross to the center, marked X and from there to finish. From A & B, this is a shortcut. From C, it's a longer route. The first player or team to get all of their horses around the track is the winner.