Came across this game being played at the Festival of Neolithic Ideas at Stonehenge, run in November (2023) by English Heritage in conjunction with the University of Cambridge. So all credits for this go to them. Brilliant event by the way, if they ever do it again, with most of the activities being hands-on, very suited for children of most ages and lots of things for KS2 and KS3 materials. This game was one of them.
It could be played as a board game, but this was played as a 5 by 5 grid laid out on the grass using ropes. The squares big enough for two people to stand in a single square. You will also need a couple of dice. They used some very large dice that were easy to throw and see the results. Players were also given large cards stating which team they were in. You could easily adapt this by providing some mock spears and hoes.
You can have up to 10 players per team and teams need to be equally distributed (eg with 8 players have 4 per side, not 6 on one team and 2 on the other*). Each team member is also given a card or item to show which team they are on. Either Farmer or Hunter-Gatherer. Players start by choosing to stand in any of the starting squares for their team. These are the 10 squares at either side of the grid, but not in the central strip of squares. Just for ease of explanation, this is shown as green for farmers and yellow for hunter-gatherers in the diagram. Nobody can stand in the central strip of squares at the start.
- Only one person per square at the start.
- Each turn all players can choose to move one square in any direction similar to a rook/castle move in chess. Forwards, backwards or sideways.
- Two players of the same team may not occupy the same square.
- If players from different teams choose to move to the same square then the dice are used to decide who ‘wins’. The player rolling the highest number wins and the losing player is out of the game. If they both roll the same number then the player who was a hunter-gatherer becomes a farmer.
- If after 10 rounds any hunter-gatherers remain the hunter-gatherers win. If after the 10 rounds no hunter-gatherers remain the farmers win.
* There is obviously room for experimentation to show how if there are more of one type (farmers or hunter-gatherers) the odds of winning are stacked more in that teams favour.