September’s game of the month is dedicated to the glory of thrift store finds. That’s right. I purchased this Pente game for fifty cents! And it has brought me hundreds of dollars of fun. I’d never even heard of Pente before and now I had been seriously missing out.
Pente is the perfect board game for us because it is a classic abstract strategy game in a similar vein to the traditional DIY games I like to share with you. So if you have been enjoying games like Dara or Mu Torere, you will love Pente!
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How to Play Pente
Pente is a combination of a capture game and an all-in-a-row placement game. A placement game is a type of game that players win by achieving a particular arrangement of their tokens. Tic tac toe is a classic example of an all-in-a-row placement game; chess is a classic example of a capture game.
The game consists of a large board set out in a grid pattern and a set of colored tokens for each player.
The Pente edition I purchased only came with colored tokens for two players, but up to four players can play in Pente’s current deluxe incarnation. The rules change slightly for three or four players, and four players can play as two teams.
The object of the game is to either capture 5 pairs of your opponents tokens, or place 5 of your tokens in a row. We found Pente rules very easy to understand, so unlike some contemporary board games with lengthly rule pamphlets we could get started playing very quickly. But like the best abstract strategy games, it is hard to master so family members of all ages and skill can play on a somewhat equal footing.
Tips for Playing Pente with Kids
As I said above, Pente is easy to learn and while I do think most experienced game-playing younger kids can hold their own against their older siblings, I suggest playing on teams as a way to ease younger kids into the game. Once players become experienced they can try out the tournament rules and variations! The manufacturer recommends the game for ages 8 and up, but I think kids a bit younger than that can play, too.
The Pente version I purchased was nice and retro with flat plastic chips, dating all the way back to 1989 (ancient history!), but now the available version is this nice luxury deluxe Pente with glass stones, a roll-up board and faux-velvet pouches. Sadly, it does cost more than 50 cents. But totally worth it!
Fun Fact: Pente was invented in 1977 by Gary Gabrel, a dishwasher at a pizza parlor! It is played on the Go board. Go is a game dating back over 2500 years ago in China. I’ve never played Go, but I understand it to be quite complicated.
More strategy board games you will love:
Shadows in the Forest – this board game you play in the dark!
Mancala – a classic every family should have!
Blokus – another classic for the whole family that also helps visual perception skills