Egyptian Senet Game Rules

How to Play Egyptian Senet


Senet is an ancient two-player Egyptian game which is similar to Backgammon and is considered one of the earliest board games in human history. The objective of the game is to be the first player to bear all pawns off the board.


Senet is played on a board which consists three rows of 10 squares. Squares are known as "houses". Each player starts with 5 pawns which are placed in alternate houses of first row. In a typical set-up the game is played with four sticks having two sides (marked and unmarked) and the values of a roll can be between 1 to 5 depending upon which side sticks land on. In each turn one pawn can be moved according to the roll. Pawns are moved from their starting house to the last house (moving in S shape) and can be borne off the board once it reaches one of the four special houses.

Rules for moving pawns

Pawns are moved according to the rules below

  • In each turn one pawn can be moved according to the rolled value.
  • Pawns can jump over other pawns.
  • One house can only have one pawn.
  • Player can not move his/her pawn to a house already occupied by his/her own pawn.
  • Player can move pawn to a house occupied by opponent's pawn. In this case both pawns simply exchange their houses meaning player takes opponent's house and opponent goes back to player's house.
  • Special houses are marked with symbols as following
    • House No 15 (House of Rebirth): Starting house for a pawn landing on House of Water.
    • House No 26 (House of Happiness): All pawns must enter this house before it can move further. A pawn in this house can never be jumped over.
    • House No 27 (House of Water): If a pawn lands in this house then it must go back to the House of Rebirth. If House of rebirth is occupied by another pawn, then pawn moves to first empty house before it.
    • House No 28 (House of the Three Truths): A pawn in this house can only leave with a roll of three.
    • House No 29 (House of Re-Atoum): A pawn in this house can only leave with a roll of two.
    • House No 30 (House of Horus): A pawn in this house can only leave with a roll of one.
  • Pawns can be borne off the board from one of the four houses (26 - House of Happiness, 28 - House of the Three Truths, 29 - House of Re-Atoum, 30 - House of Horus)
  • Pawns are safe in some specific scenarios or if it is in a safe house and opposition pawn can not exchange house with it. House No 15, 26, 28, and 29 are safe houses. House No 30 is not a safe house.
  • Two or more connecting pawns of same player are safe. Pawns can connect in two rows in increasing house sequence.
  • Three of more connecting pawns from the same player in one row makes a blockade. A blockade can not be jumped over by opponent's pawn. Player can jump over his/her own blockade.
  • If a move is possible then player must make the move.
  • If no move is possible, then player simply forfeits his/her turn.

The first player to bear off all five pawns wins the game.