You might know backgammon best as the game that’s sometimes on the back of your checkers set, and you’ve maybe never given it much thought beyond that. But if you’re looking for a new two-player game, Backgammon blends strategic play with an element of chance to make for a game that anyone can quickly learn and enjoy.
Backgammon has antecedents in Ancient Mesopotamia, and there’s a reason this game has endured for centuries. The objective of Backgammon is fairly simple — gameplay involves moving your checkers around the 24 points in a predetermined direction. The ultimate goal is to be the first player to remove all of their checkers from the board, known as “bearing off.” Your movement is determined by two dice, but you have a wide variety of options for which checkers to move and how to play the results from the dice.
The combination of skill and randomness is what makes this game so engaging. Some games, like chess, are purely strategic, while others rely almost entirely on chance. Games that are too strategic or too random can be either prohibitively difficult for a beginner or too boring for sustained play. Backgammon, on the other hand, is primarily a strategy game with a moderate amount of chance, making it something that a beginner can feel competitive and engaged at. Plus, gameplay length is moderate, compared with the multi-hour (or day) head-to-heads of a game like chess.
Explaining the rules of backgammon in a way that makes sense is difficult on paper, which is why it’s well worth watching some video tutorials if you’ve never played. Of course, owning a stylish and durable set will go a long way in helping your new hobby become a passion, which is why we’ve rounded up the best backgammon sets to buy right now.
1. Get The Games Out Top Backgammon Set
This stylish set features a briefcase design with a locking clasp and convenient carrying handle, and the outer case has a textured cover with a striped pattern down the middle. The set is available in a classic and sophisticated brown and white color, a retro black and white set, or even vibrant colors like red and purple. Plus, the set comes in small, medium or large. The size of the set doesn’t affect gameplay or strategy, so you can choose the one that fits your needs best (for example, if you want to travel with it or you’d rather have a tabletop game). Everything needed to play is included, and a booklet of rules and strategies is included.
Pros: Stylish leather-look, complete set with chips, shakers, dice and a booklet. Extra pieces included if any get lost.
Cons: Checker pieces are somewhat lightweight and could be better made. The booklet is not as helpful as it could be.
2. Sondergut Roll-Up Suede Backgammon Game
If you’re the type to take your Backgammon set wherever you go, then this set is a great option. It’s made from soft suede and it has clasps on the ends, and it’s designed to easily roll up and be carried under your arm or in a backpack. As for the pieces, a zippered pouch on the end stores the dice and checkers to keep them together. Plus, the stylish suede look also makes this a great gift option.
Pros: Stylish and compact. Pieces fit inside a protective pouch and the set rolls up, making it great for taking on the go.
Cons: For traditionalists, the exclusion of the shaker cups may be a dealbreaker.
3. Yellow Mountain Imports Wooden Inlaid Backgammon Game Set
If you want something with a classic wood look, this set from Yellow Mountain Imports is a great option. The board is 15 inches, and it comes with everything needed for gameplay, including dice, checkers and shaker cups. The set has hinged edges to fold it in half and put it away when not in use, but the stylish look means you’re more likely to want to leave it out. The classic wooden look, and white and brown colorway, make this set a stylish decor piece, too, especially for a vacation cabin or traditional home.
Pros: Stylish wood look. Dice, shaker cups and checkers included. Folds in half to easily put away.
Cons: While it does fold in half, the lack of a securing latch and carrying handle limits the portability.