Hare and Tortoise

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hare and Tortoise
DesignersDavid Parlett
Setup time3 minutes
Playing time45–60 minutes
Age range8 +

Hare and Tortoise is a Eurogame designed by David Parlett in 1974 and first published by Intellect Games. In 1978 it was released by Ravensburger in Germany, and received generally positive reviews critically and won the 1979 Spiel des Jahres. It has since sold some 2 million units in at least ten languages. The current editions are published by Gibsons Games in the UK, Ravensburger in Germany and Rio Grande Games in the United States.


The game is based on Aesop's fable "The Tortoise and the Hare", in which the hare and tortoise decide to race. The tortoise wins the race by cunning while the hare fails because he overestimates himself and takes a nap during the race. The moral of the story is "slow and steady wins the race" which is incorporated in the game mechanic.

In Germany, there is another fable by a similar name, Hase und Igel (Hare and hedgehog), made popular by the Brothers Grimm, in which the hedgehog wins because his wife is at the finish line, and the hare mistakes her for his race opponent.


Hare and Tortoise

Hare and Tortoise is a strategic race game in which players pay carrots (the currency in the game) to move forward. The more squares the player wants to advance, the more carrots the player must pay. The cost to advance increases as triangle numbers:

  • 1 square = 1 carrot
  • 2 squares = price of 1 square + 2 = 3 carrots
  • 3 squares = price of 2 squares + 3 = 6 carrots
  • 4 squares = price of 3 squares + 4 = 10 carrots
  • And so on.

Players can earn carrots in various ways – most notably by moving backwards to designated squares (10 carrots per square). This game mechanic creates an interesting and dynamic race usually with no clear winner until the very end. The players start the game with 65 carrots. The game board features 65 squares. There are no generic squares; instead, the board is divided in several types of squares such as hare (draw a luck card), carrots (get extra carrots for each turn skipped), etc.

One variant of the game is the agreement between the players not to land on "hare" squares, which could eliminate the factor of luck completely from the game.[1]

Development and release[edit]

Hare and Tortoise was released in 1974 and was designed by David Parlett. It used a relatively new game mechanic upon its publication, which is utilising resource management for movement. This was only previously found in the unrelated game Bantu published by Parker Brothers in 1955. Until then, race games typically used the roll of dice to determine movement, however, after 1974 non-dice games gradually became more abundant.[2]

In 1978, the game was released by Ravensburger in Germany under the name of Hase und Igel and was re-themed, with the tortoise replaced by the Brothers Grimm hedgehog. Initially selling with difficulty due to being perceived as a children's game, Hare and Tortoise was later presented the first Spiel des Jahres award after a reluctant agreement by the company. The award significantly increased the game's sales, and a total of two million copies have sold in ten languages printed by numerous other publishers, including Gibsons Games in the UK and Rio Grande Games in the United States.[2] In 2016, the game was re-themed again to Around the World in 80 Days, which utilised a money theme instead.[3]


Hare and Tortoise received positive reviews. The Opinionated Gamers praised its accessibility, complexity, engagement and balance of luck and strategy. However, some reviewers also criticised the lack of theme, the mathematical nature and the dated gameplay.[2] In 1979, the game became the first winner of the now widely recognized Spiel des Jahres award.[4] The Dutch translation won the "Speelgoed van het jaar" (Toy of the Year) award in 1979 when it was released.[citation needed] The game was successful commercially, selling a total of two million copies.[2]



The official world championships have been held as part of the Mind Sports Olympiad with David Parlett's endorsement 7 times.[9]

  • 1997: England Chris Dickson
  • 2007: England David M. Pearce
  • 2008: England Tige Nnando
  • 2009: England David M. Pearce
  • 2010: Italy Dario De Toffoli
  • 2011: England Tige Nnando
  • 2012: England Mike Dixon
  • 2013: Estonia Andres Kuusk
  • 2014: England Matthew Hathrell
  • 2015: England James Heppell

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Parlett, David. The Oxford History of Board Games. London: OUP, 1999. p. 103.
  2. ^ a b c d Wray, Chris (2015-05-08). "SdJ Re-Reviews #1: Hase und Igel (a.k.a. Hare & Tortoise)". The Opinionated Gamers. Retrieved 2022-02-22.
  3. ^ Holmes, Andrew. "Hare and Tortoise Game Review — Meeple Mountain". www.meeplemountain.com. Retrieved 2022-02-22.
  4. ^ "Hase und Igel". Spiel des Jahres. Retrieved 2022-02-22.
  5. ^ https://archive.org/details/games-7-1978-september/page/56/mode/2up
  6. ^ https://archive.org/details/sim_games-and-puzzles_1974-11_30/page/14/mode/2up
  7. ^ https://archive.org/details/jeux-et-strategie-06/page/46/mode/2up
  8. ^ https://archive.org/details/sim_games-and-puzzles_1975-02_33/page/4/mode/2up
  9. ^ Mind Sports Olympiad Hare and Tortoise page http://www.boardability.com/game.php?id=hare_and_tortoise Archived 2013-12-03 at the Wayback Machine 06 September 2010

External links[edit]