Many people still play chess and other board games, even with all the vivid 3d games out these days. Linux has plenty of choices when it comes to board games – Risk, Reversi, Backgammon, Checkers, Chess, even Go and Shogi, 2 more difficult games from Japan. The Ubuntu repositories also feature the GGZ gaming zone, which is a community online site featuring many board games.
Backgammon – Gnu Backgammon has many options, including a tutorial mode. Help on using it is available at the GNU Backgammon site . It seems to have very good documentation. You can play against the computer AI or against a human opponent in hot seat mode.
Risk – There are 2 Risk versions in the repositories, Ksirk and xfrisk. Ksirk is the KDE version, so unless you already installed the KDE software, it’s a fair amount of extra space (nearly 200 megabytes).
Checkers – Kcheckers is the only option. You have to start it from the command line, it doesn’t show up in the Games menu.
Chess – Obviously, chess enthusiasts are well-served in Linux. There are 7 different chess engines (the computer programs that play against you when you can’t find a human opponent). Several utilities are also in the repositories, including a clock. Some of the many chess clients include eboard, xboard, glchess, brutal chess, dreamchess, and pychess. Most of them allow you to choose which engine you want to use to play against, and it’s a real shame that one of the best looking games, dreamchess (shown below) seems a little buggy. The board keeps rotating while you play.
Go – Cgoban and qgo are your two choices here. There are a few utility programs too,including sgf2dg, a utility to transform SGF-style Go game descriptions into Tex format, mgt (examines/edits Go game tree files in SG format.), and Uligo, a tutorial program.
Xshogi – This is an excellent game, with a basic graphical interface. It uses the Japanese characters for the pieces, so if you are unfamiliar with the game, it will take some getting used to.
Go-moku (pente) – You need to start this from the command line. Graphics are adequate but look similar to cgoban’s graphics.
Othello/Reversi – Several versions are available in the repositories, most with basic graphics. GRhino focuses on strong AI rather than polished graphics. The best-looking version is KReversi, shown below.
Pioneers (Settlers of Catan) – Settlers of Catan is a popular family game for 4 to 6 players. This is a cross-platform game, so if you can figure out how to set up a private server, you can play with several of your friends.
There is also KBattleship as well as a Monopoly clone, gtkAtlantic. I can’t start that game with just one player and I haven’t figured out how to find existing games. I’ll have to keep working on that.