Hare and Tortoise
Hare and Tortoise is a German-style board game
German-style board game
German-style board games, frequently referred to in gaming circles as Euro Games or Euro-style, are a broad class of tabletop games that generally have simple rules, short to medium playing times, indirect player interaction and abstract physical components...

 designed by David Parlett
David Parlett
David Parlett is a games scholar from South London, who has studied both card games and board games. His published works include many popular books on games and the more academic volumes "Oxford Guide to Card Games" and "Oxford History of Board Games", both now out of print...

 in 1974 and first published by Intellect Games
Intellect Games
Intellect Games made a series of board games in the 1970s. Many of these games were notable in that they did not rely on chance. The outcome of the games was dependent on tactics.-Games:...

. In 1978 it was released by Ravensburger
Ravensburger Spieleverlag GmbH is a German game company. It is a leader in the European puzzle market.-History:The company was founded by Otto Robert Maier with seat in Ravensburg, a town in Upper Swabia in southern Germany. He began publishing in 1883 with his first author contract...

 in Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, where the game became a huge hit. It has since sold some 2 million units in at least ten languages, including two known pirated editions. The current edition is published by Rio Grande Games
Rio Grande Games
Rio Grande Games is a board game publisher based in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The company primarily imports and localizes foreign language German-style board games.-History:...

 (United States), Abacus Spiele (Germany), and The Board Game Company (UK).


The game is based on Aesop's
Aesop was a Greek writer credited with a number of popular fables. Older spellings of his name have included Esop and Isope. Although his existence remains uncertain and no writings by him survive, numerous tales credited to him were gathered across the centuries and in many languages in a...

A fable is a succinct fictional story, in prose or verse, that features animals, mythical creatures, plants, inanimate objects or forces of nature which are anthropomorphized , and that illustrates a moral lesson , which may at the end be expressed explicitly in a pithy maxim.A fable differs from...

 "The Tortoise and the Hare
The Tortoise and the Hare
The Tortoise and the Hare is a fable attributed to Aesop and is number 226 in the Perry Index. The story concerns a hare who ridicules a slow-moving tortoise and is challenged by him to a race. The hare soon leaves the tortoise behind and, confident of winning, decides to take a nap midway through...

", in which the hare
Hares and jackrabbits are leporids belonging to the genus Lepus. Hares less than one year old are called leverets. Four species commonly known as types of hare are classified outside of Lepus: the hispid hare , and three species known as red rock hares .Hares are very fast-moving...

 and tortoise
Tortoises are a family of land-dwelling reptiles of the order of turtles . Like their marine cousins, the sea turtles, tortoises are shielded from predators by a shell. The top part of the shell is the carapace, the underside is the plastron, and the two are connected by the bridge. The tortoise...

 decide to race. The tortoise wins the race by cunning while the hare fails because he overestimates himself and takes a nap during the race. The moral of the story is "slow and steady wins the race" which is incorporated in the game mechanic.

In Germany, there is another fable by a similar name, Hase und Igel (Hare and hedgehog), made popular by the Brothers Grimm
Brothers Grimm
The Brothers Grimm , Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm , were German academics, linguists, cultural researchers, and authors who collected folklore and published several collections of it as Grimm's Fairy Tales, which became very popular...

, in which the hedgehog wins because his wife is at the finish line, and the hare mistakes her for his race opponent.


The game used a then new (as of 1974) game mechanic. Until then movement of pieces in race game
Race game
Race game is a large category of board games, in which the object is to be the first to move all one's pieces to the end of a track. This is both the earliest type of board game known, with implements and representations dating back to at least the 3rd millennium BC in Egypt, Iraq, and Iran; and...

s was largely determined by the roll of dice
A die is a small throwable object with multiple resting positions, used for generating random numbers...

. In Hare and Tortoise players pay carrots (the currency in the game) to move forward. The more squares the player wants to advance, the more carrots the player is to pay. The cost to advance increases in an arithmetic series:
  • 1 square = 1 carrot
  • 2 squares = price of 1 square + 2 = 3 carrots
  • 3 squares = price of 2 squares + 3 = 6 carrots
  • 4 squares = price of 3 squares + 4 = 10 carrots
  • And so on.

Players can earn carrots in various ways - most notably by moving backwards to designated squares (10 carrots per square).
This game mechanic creates an interesting and dynamic race usually with no clear winner until the very end.
The players start the game with 65 carrots.
The gameboard features 65 squares. There are no generic squares; instead, the board is divided in several types of squares such as hare (draw a luck card), carrots (get extra carrots for each turn skipped), etc.

The factor of luck can be eliminated completely from the game by agreement between the players not to land on 'hare' squares.

Only one earlier "strategic race game" is known: Bantu, published by Parker Brothers in 1955 which, however, did not serve as a model for Hare and Tortoise.


In 1979, the game became the first winner of the now widely recognized Spiel des Jahres
Spiel des Jahres
The Spiel des Jahres is an award for board and card games, created in 1978 with the stated purpose of rewarding excellence in game design, and promoting top-quality games in the German market. It is thought that the existence and popularity of the award is one of the major drivers of the quality...

 award. The Dutch translation won the "Speelgoed van het jaar" (Toy of the Year) award in 1979 when it was released.


The official world championships have been held as part of the Mind Sports Olympiad with David Parlett's endoresement 6 times.
  • 1997: Chris Dickson (United Kingdom)
  • 2007: David M. Pearce (United Kingdom)
  • 2008: Tige Nnando (United Kingdom)
  • 2009: David M. Pearce (United Kingdom)
  • 2010: Dario De Toffoli
    Dario De Toffoli
    Dario De Toffoli is an Italian board game designer, gamebook author and elite games player who founded the games company Studiogiochi and established many games events. Born in 1953 Venice, after an early career as Chemist he entered the world of games. Winner of over 60 medals at the Mind Sports...

  • 2011: Tige Nnando (United Kingdom)

External links

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