The Tartarian game of horde invasion

It is said in eastern Europe that Batu Khan, grandson of Gengis Khan and leader of the Golden Horde, would prepare for battle by sitting and playing a board game. And that was Jarmo, a Tartarian game in which players lead an archer horde to invade the enemy territory. On the way, troops will clash and winners will be promoted and then be able to summon more allies to the field. The most interesting thing about this game is the seemingly random way the spaces on the board connect to each other, forcing the player to carefully take the terrain in consideration before moving.

This file also contains rules for a variant called Jasir, popular in Poland. We recommend this version to more experienced players – in it the pieces cannot retreat, so each move must be considered extra carefully.

Jarmo is a great game for children aged 8 and up, while the Jasir variant is better appreciated by teens and adults. A match should take about 15 minutes, but they're usually played two at a time, adding up the points earned in each match.


Historical references to this game are not easy to find. It was developed by the Tatars, a Turkic people originated in the Gobi desert, between China and Mongolia. They were conquered by the Mongols, lead by Gengis Khan, and then, under the leadership of his grandson, Batu Khan, moved West into eastern Europe.

As they expanded their reach, the Tatars introduced the game to new cultures. Polish and Tatar legends tell us that Batu Khan himself would prepare to battle by playing a board game, which is believed to be Jarmo or a close variant of it. This legend sugests the game is at least 800 years old, but being already popular by then, it is probably even older.

A nearly identical variant by the name of Jasir (the Tatar word for 'archer') is specially popular in Poland and other eastern European countries.