You can find numerous examples of traditional 3-in-a-row games in different cultures around the world. Modern children in the west will be most familiar with tic-tac-toe but PICARIA is an entertaining version of a 3-in-a-row game that originated in indigenous communities living in the geographical area known as the American Southwest.
How to Play Picaria
What you need:
- 2 enthusiastic players
- 3 tokens per player. Each player has a different color token.
- Game board. Draw your own, or use our printable game board.
Picaria Game Instructions
- Drop phase
Player 1 places one token on any intersection on the game board.
Player 2 places one token on any intersection on the game board.
In the drop phase, players may not place a token on the center point.
- Continue drop phase
Players continue alternating “dropping” their 2nd and 3rd tokens onto the game board.
Tokens cannot be moved until all players have completed placing their tokens on the board.
- Move phase
Players alternate turns, moving one token per turn, to an adjacent, vacant intersection.
Tokens can now be moved to the center.
Jumping is not allowed.
The first player to move their tokens into 3-in-a -row wins.
A row can be diagonal, horizontal or vertical.
A row can be across the large square or one of the small squares.
If any player cannot move, the game is declared a tie.
- Use coins, beans or buttons as tokens.
- Decorate your game board!
- Be sure to watch the video!
Why Play Picaria?
First of all, because it is FUN.
Second, picaria is a part of a class of games known as “abstract strategy” games. Because abstract strategy games are not based on chance (such as dice games like Chicago) they require kids to use their thinking skills!
Players must plan ahead, anticipate their opponent’s possible actions. Even though the rules are extremely simple, winning is not always so easy!
As with all games, playing with others develops sportsmanship skills.
History of Picaria
Picaria was played by indigenous peoples in the North American southwest. From what I could find from my research, it is believed that it may be an adaptation of a game introduced by the Spanish invaders.
Like most traditional games of this type, early players would have used stones, beads or other found objects as tokens. They would have sketched the board into the ground, or even created a board by etching into a stone surface.
More fun traditional games: