Garry's games: historical free games for all the family

About Garry's Games

As recommended by America's PBS network.

What's here?

Here you can read about and obtain by download some historical boardgames that are both fun and educational. All for nothing! There are three games here so far: two on Tudor history, and one on the history of ancient Mesopotamia. They have been translated into Italian, Japanese, French, Dutch and German.

They are not computer games. They are family boardgames. You get some pdf files that you print out. All the games have cards, which you will have to cut out or take to your local print shop to be cut.

These games will be of interest to:

  • people interested in the history of the period
  • oldtime grognards (wargamers) and strategy-gamers
  • historians
  • school-teachers and their kids
  • home schoolers
  • people looking for something beyond Trivial Pursuit

Over 7,000 copies are downloaded each year! If these were commercially sold games, they would be world best-sellers. But we give them to you for nothing.

The games you can get here for free

Here are the games to date:

FAQ: frequently asked questions

Who might be interested?

How about:

  • History teachers in the United States and the United Kingdom have found them great teaching resources for kids. In both countries they are recommended as sound teaching resources, and fun, too.
  • Home-schoolers in the USA and Australia.
  • Families looking for a game smarter than Monopoly, and with no bad language. Bad events maybe, but no bad language.
  • People who love history will find that the games bring it to life.
  • We've been playing wargames since the early 1970's. Gamers and grognards should find them fun to play, and a welcome addition to their collections. Hey, they cost nothing!
  • If you are looking for something a lot more interesting than Trivial Pursuit that does not require a PhD to learn, here's your chance.

What are the games?

These games are paper or cardboard boardgames that you can download from this site for no cost.

They are not computer games.

You will get a collection of PDF files containing the rules, images for cards, and a board. The boards are designed to be printed on A1-paper size (US equivalent: 24×36″), so you will have to trot down to your local print shop. You can do the same with the other components, or you can print these off on a decent colour printer, cut the cards up, and voila, there's your game. We have designed the cards and rules for A4-size paper stock, but you should have no problem printing them onto US Letter stock. Each game will require a lot of ink, so have spare cartridges at hand.

How much do your games cost?

Nothing. They are free for you to download. However, they are not public domain.

Are they complicated games?

They have been used in schools for kids as young as eight, so they can't be too complex. On the other hand, if you have never played a strategy game before you may find the rules unfamiliar and daunting. If you find the rules of Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit a challenge, I'd stay away. We hate remembering rules ourselves, so we've tried to make them as organic as possible. After the first Turn it will get a lot easier, and you should find that it all fits together.

Note to experienced gamers: we would rate the games as a little more complex than Kingmaker.

Do I have to know any history to play your games?

No, but you probably would not be here if you were uninterested in the history. They may well end up teaching you some history, but the aim of the games is to have fun.

How do I get the games?

Just by clicking here.

The Garry's Games Research Fellowship

The Garry's Games Research Fellowship
The sad old drunks of the Garry's Games Research Fellowship. Photo courtesy of Laine Edwards.

The Garry's Games Research Fellows have been wargaming and strategy gaming for fifty years. They cut their teeth on mid-period SPI and Avalon-Hill back in the mid-1970s. Some of their first games were SPI's Kursk and Philmar's classic edition of Kingmaker. They've had a lot of fun and played a lot of very good games.

About the Fellowship

As the Fellows progressed into a rotund middle-age they found less and less time for rowdy multi-player games. They play Shadows Over Camelot, Civilisation, Age of Renaissance, History of the World, Credo, Republic of Rome, Princes of the Renaissance, Settlers of Cataan, El Grande and other old favourites, but they never seem to get through them. Maybe that's because the Fellows start falling off their chairs after the tenth bottle.

So the Fellows thought they would design a few games themselves. They are all intended for an evening's play. And they are all deeply rooted in history. They've tried to make them as educational as they are entertaining. The Fellows have also tried to make them as professional looking as possible. The graphic design is not exactly Nobel prize stuff, but we think it looks pretty good in all the games. Print them out, and your friends will think you paid bucks for them.

Rather to the Fellowship's surprise, the games appeal not only to adult grognards such as ourselves. The games have proved very popular with teachers in the United States and the United Kingdom trying to spark up their history classes. From what we hear, the games are a hit with ten to fourteen year-olds in such classes. The game Mesopotamia even goes down well with eight-year olds. The games are also used by home-schoolers to make history come alive.

The Fellows are very proud of their educational success with kiddies. But there is still much for all you old grognard strategy-gamers. We do hope you have a lot of fun.

We acknowledge the Gadigal and Wangal peoples of the Eora nation as the traditional custodians of the land upon which this website is produced.

Please note: These games are NOT public domain. They are copyright © 2001–2014 Garry Stevens. You can download and use them for free. Have fun, play them, share them with your friends: but do not sell them or claim them as your own. Just thought I'd say it.