Ur, 1830 BC
A game by Jeroen Doumen and Joris Wiersinga
From the temple, one can see far over the lands of Ur. The king points to teams of men digging near the river. "Look, my son. The men of Kishi are digging a new canal. We shall dispatch some workers to shovel water into it. Make sure they water our lands well." But I do not listen to the old king. I am contemplating whether to lead my men in founding a new nation closer to the river's source, or to devote the coming year to science. There are rumours that the Babylonians are experimenting with a wheel that wields water, and my people could use such a contraption. For the Gods have revealed that a great drought will be upon us...
Ur, 1830 BC is a game about irrigation in Mesopotamia. It is based lightly on Francis Tresham’s succesful series of 18XX train games, of which 1830 and 1835 are the most famous (see the sites by Chris Lawson or Lou Jerkich for more information about them). As this series is the favourite non-Splotter game of three of Splotter's designers, we wanted to make a contribution to this great gaming tradition. So here it is!
Ur has a lot of different dimensions. It's a game about water networks and strategic planning; it's a game about land speculation and knowing when to move to greener pastures; it's a game about managing the resources of large estates; and it's a game of tactically outsmarting your opponents to get that last drop of water away from his land onto yours. It has the feel of an 1830 variant, but is vastly different especially on the board.
Each player in Ur controls a dynasty in ancient Mesopotamia. The game is played in rounds consisting of three phases. In the settlement phase, players buy and sell land, trying to settle the areas that will yield most. If the population in an area grows large enough, states emerge. These states can build irrigation works in the land development phase. After that, the rainy season starts: water comes down the river and is diverted to be used for irrigation. Each plot of irrigated land yields income to the land owners and to the state that operates the waterworks.
As more and more states are founded, the technological development in waterworks and digging tools drives old equipment out of use. Canals are built faster and faster, land yield goes up, and more and more land becomes available for agriculture.
The game involves three levels of strategy: first, smart buying and selling on the land market; second, tactical play developing the right land and canals on the map; and third, strategic anticipation and control of the speed of technical development.
The playing material consists of a game board, wooden discs that represent the water, a number of coloured counters to represent land ownership and waterworks, a deck of cards and a set of Splotter banknotes.
This game is available by mail-order (see order forms).
Further information about Ur can be found at:
Answers to previously asked questions about the game material, the rules etc. can be found here.