I love ancient games. There are many games which are almost lost to antiquity, that are nonetheless a lot of fun. Hounds and Jackals from Egypt has always been my favorite as it is just so eye-catching and fun to play. It was even featured in Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments". In this instructable, I will show you how I made my board. You can adjust the measurements as you wish. At the end is a pdf with the rules I use. I should add that the 2 pictures on the left above were found in a pharaoh's tomb, while the one on the right is my version.
Step 1: Supplies and Equipment
Sculpy III polymer clay
2 colors of nail polish (black & gold)
Fine point Sharpie markers in black and metallic gold
Plywood cut 2 pieces that are each 11.5” (29.2 cm) x 21” (53.3 cm)
1.5 inch x ¼ inch wood slats cut 2 to 21” (53.3 cm) and 2 to 11” (27.9 cm)
1 inch thick Styrofoam, 11.5” x 21” (29.2 x 53.3 cm)
Krylon Make it Stone! Spray paint
Palm tree stencil
Green, sand and brown craft paint
Hot glue gun
Saw to cut the wood
Drill with bit just slightly larger than the end of the chopstick
Mini screwdriver to fit hinge screws
Step 2: Making the "Men" Part 1
Measure the 10 chopsticks to a 5” (13cm) length (from the top of the chopstick, not the point). It is best to use chopsticks that don’t taper too quickly. Score around the stick deeply with a razor knife, then snap the stick and trim the ends.
Make the heads. I am far from being an artist. Very far. Like other side of the continent far. But I was able to produce some serviceable dog heads as shown. First I took a hazelnut-sized piece of Sculpy III. (the color doesn’t matter as I am going to paint them anyway. Darker colors are softer and easier to use than lighter colors). I gently pinched half of it into a nose – blunt for a hound, long and pointed for a jackal. Then I took 2 small pea sized balls and made ears – flat oval for the hound and long flattened cones for the jackals. I attached the ears gently to the heads by gently pressing and blending the edges of the ear clay to the head. Next I gently inserted one of the pointed scrap ends of a chopstick into the underside of the head, and slowly worked in into a circle the diameter of the chopstick. (This step keeps the head from distorting as you shove a blunt end into the bottom. Make the hole deep enough to support the head securely, and make it just slightly bigger than the stick as Sculpy does shrink slightly when baked. Insert the cut end into the head. Place heads on their sticks on a foil-lined cookie sheet and bake in a pre-heated 275 degree F oven for 20 minutes. Do not over-bake and do not bake them directly on a cookie sheet you also use for food. Sculpy is a petroleum based product and while safe and non-toxic when used correctly, if gives off noxious gases if baked too long or if burned, and it is extremely hard to clean all traces of it off of surfaces. A scrap of Aluminum foil is all you need to protect your cookie sheet, table, etc. Remove from oven and let cool well – they take a long time to cool!
Step 3: Making the "Men" Part 2
Attach the heads permanently to the chopsticks using our old friend hot glue. I put the glue into the head and then inserted the stick, and gently wiped off the excess.
Paint the dogs. I like using nail polish for painting Sculpy as it doesn’t peel like craft paints can, and it comes in a delightful range of colors from metallics to clear. I used black (always available at Halloween) for the jackals and gold for the hounds. Black was the traditional color used by the Egyptians for jackals even though in real life the critters are light to medium brown. I painted the entire thing, dog head and stick (except for the very end where I was holding it)) and stuck it in a scrap of Styrofoam to dry. I use 2-3 coats depending on the coverage. Once it is complete, I went back and painted the end that was stuck in the Styrofoam.
Step 4: Making the "Men" Part 3
Draw the eyes. Here is a picture of a classic Egyptian “eye”. Using the extra-fine Sharpies, I drew the eye in gold on the jackals and in black on the hounds.
Yea! Now the men are finished. Let’s work on the board. I made a box for 2 reasons. First, it gave me a place to store the men, and second, it allows a deeper hole to hold the men upright.
Step 5: Making the Box
Make a reproduction of the board to size on card stock using the template. Using a something pointed, poke a hole through the center of each dot.
Cut 2 plywood pieces for the top and bottom. Spray paint the top board with Krylon Make It Stone! spray paint. I used Travertine Tan as it looked like sand to me. Once dry, mark the holes on it by laying the paper game board carefully on top, and using a marker or pencil to mark the dots. Drill out these dots straight through the wood using a ¼” drill bit. I put a piece of insulation foam under it to protect the surface under the drill. When finished, test all of your men to make sure they fit through the holes. A couple of the chopsticks were bigger than the rest, and I had to widen the holes ever so slightly.
Step 6: Assembling the Box
Cut the slats to form the sides of the box.
Assemble the sides of the box using wood glue and L-clamps. Once those are dry, glue them to the base and clamp with C-clamps. Give each of these a good 24 hours to dry..
Step 7: Making the Insert
Cut and insert the foam into the box. You want a snug fit. Do not glue down yet! Leave a little room to get it back out again.
Attach the game board to the box using the hinges. You will remove this again to paint the base and the top, but make sure it is attached for now.
Very gently, mark the holes on the Styrofoam with a marker or dab of paint.. Do not push down or make holes yet! Take out the Styrofoam, and cut a hole where the top of the olive tree is. It needs to be big enough to store the men, but mustn’t cut into the holes. Paint the Styrofoam if you like with craft (acrylic) paint. Do not use spray paint! Spray paint (except for specialty Styrofoam spray paint) will melt the Styrofoam. Glue the finished Styrofoam into the base. (The second picture is the inside of my finished box to show how the men fit).
Step 8: Decorating the Board
Decorate the board any way you like. I used Sharpie markers for the lines, the red around the special holes, and the ankhs, and craft paint for the snakes, the home bases, and the tree. On my very first board, I used dimensional (fabric) paints, and it looked stunning, but even when completely dry, it will stick to other things if it is stacked, so I chose not to use them here.
To paint the tree, print out the included stencil onto card stock to the size that will fit. Cut out the tree using a razor knife. Lay the stencil onto the board and paint through the stencil with a sponge or pouncer dipped in the paint. I used 2 overlapping greens (1 light and 1 dark) and 2 overlapping browns.
Step 9: Finish the Board
Re-attach the board to the box. Now you’re going to make the holes in the Styrofoam to support the men. Carefully put a man in the hole and push straight down. Be careful not to wiggle the man. You want a clean hole.
That’s it! The only thing I will personally change on the next board is to try and make the snakes look more like snakes and less like flat-worms. As I said, I am not an artist.
The attached pdf has my instructions on it.
Let me know what you think!!