Russian Board Games: The Industry Really Started To Bloom In The 21st Century

Have you played any of these?

ErikaWittlieb (CC0), Pixabay

Russia has been creating board games for decades, but the industry really started to bloom in the 21st century. As one would expect, the games are mostly strategic, but there are also some inspired by biology, psychology and fairy tales.  From traditional to modern, we compiled a list of the most interesting board games arriving from Russia.

Russian Draughts

Russian draughts is a Russian version of the popular game of checkers. Some differences from the regular draughts game are that this version is played on an 8×8 inch board and each player begins with 12  pieces. The pieces can be moved only forward, while they can capture both forwards and backward. Like with all draughts variants it is also played by two persons, and the loser is the player who cannot move or has lost all of his pieces.

The official rules for the game were released in 1884. Some other versions of Russian draughts are Bashni and Chapayev.

Business chess

The game of chess has a long tradition in Russia, and the Soviet Union enlisted it as one of the state-supported sports. They searched for young talents, trained coaches and opened chess schools. Russians are globally known as masters of chess, and a Russian named Garry Kasparov was actually ranked as the best chess player of all times. Thus, it’s no wonder that they developed their own version of the game.

Bussines chess was developed by Dr. Grachya Ovakimyan in Moscow, with a goal to make chess more entertaining. His version of chess is played in teams, who can openly discuss their next move and make all their decisions together. The game also got an interest of psychologists, as it can be used in the research of cognitive and social psychology.

Soviet Board Games

The Soviet Union tried to develop their board game industry, as the game production is fairly cheap and quick. In addition to that, strategic games like chess were very popular at the time. However, their games did not achieve global success for fairly obvious reasons. Like they did with everything else, the Soviet Union tried to spread their nationalistic propaganda through their board games. All the games have repeating motives of war, revolution and the importance of work for the prosperity of the nation.

Some of the games they developed were Revolution, Battle, For Healthy Living, Circular Race and Electrification.

Potion-Making: Practice

Let’s jump into 2005 when the Potion-Making: Practice game was released. The author of the game is Sergey Machin and it was published by the renowned Russian board game publisher, the RightGames. It soon became very popular, especially among Harry Potter fans. In the game, the players get to create talismans, elixirs, magical creatures and magic potions. But first, they have to get their ingredients from the Desk of Elements.

The players mostly rely on luck, but they also need to be strategic. When they collect the necessary ingredients they can create their potions, and get a certain amount of points for each of their creations. A winner is a person who gathered most points during the game.

Evolution: The Origin Of Species

In 2010 one of the most popular games coming from Russia was released. Evolution: The Origin of Species was inspired by the evolutionary field of biology. It can be played by two or more players, each getting six cards at the beginning of the game. The cards depict different animals and the players must evolve their animals through a few steps so they can survive. One turn of the game consists of four phases, and they are development, food bank determination, feeding, and extinction and draw phase.

Three more expansions of the game were developed after the first release. They are Evolution: Time to Fly,  Evolution: Continents and Evolution: Planetarium.


Spyfall is a psychological game released in 2015. At the beginning of the game, all players get the same location (there are 30 different locations in the game), while each of them gets his own specific role. For example, if they are on a ship, one of them is a captain, one is a navigator and the rest of the players are sailors. Regardless of the location, one person is always a spy.

The spy is the only one who doesn’t know the location. He has to discover it by listening to the conversation between other players. The rest of the players ask different questions and provide answers, in order to identify the spy. The game is played in a few rounds, and in each of these rounds, the new roles are assigned. Points are awarded to the winners of a round and the overall winner is the person with most points.

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