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Roman Board Games
by Wally J. Kowalski

Terni Lapilli

Terni Lapilli is considered to be identical to modern Tic-Tac-Toe. However, although Terni Lapilli boards are found throughout the Empire, scratched on walls, floors, and roofs, no X's and O's accompany the markings. Obviously playing pieces were being used for this game and the would surely be the same ones used for both Latrunculi and Tabula. Bolesden says that three pieces were used in this game but if that is true, this is not Tic-Tac-Toe.

Judging from the number of Terni Lapilli boards found around Rome it would seem this game was more popular than Tic-Tac-Toe, and therefore we must conclude that it was not, in fact, Tic-Tac-Toe since this is not really a game and could not sustain such interest.

For the time being then, this game remains an enigma, although the possibilities are certainly very finite.


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