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Fox and Geese Board Game

Fox and Geese roll-up game board on purple felt
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What you will make:

In this project, make a roll-up game board for the game of Fox and Geese that includes a pocket for storing game pieces. The game board is made of paper and felt using iron-on adhesive, and requires no sewing.

Fox and Geese is a classic hunt game where a single fox tries to capture 13 geese and the geese try to trap the fox. The game requires some strategic thinking and the ability to look ahead a few turns. Included at the end of the project are rules for playing the game of Fox and Geese and some history about the game.

Other hunt game boards: See the Catch the Hare craft project for printable patterns for more felt game boards. This Moorish hunt game is known as Cercar La Liebre in Spain.

Related craft: Use Modeling Dough to make game pieces.

Related craft: The English version of board solitaire uses the same game board as Fox and Geese. Use the game boards in this project to play board solitaire or make the game boards in the English Board Solitaire craft project for playing Fox and Geese.

Here's what you need:
  • Computer paper
  • Felt, 9" by 12"
  • Ribbon
  • Iron-on craft adhesive for fabric
  • Optional: Craft knife and cutting mat, markers or colored pencils
  • Adhesive tape for hemming
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Iron and pillowcase
  • Game pieces in two colors

This project is rated EASY to do.

How to Make a Fox and Geese Roll-up Game Board

Read all of the steps before starting.
Step 1: Choose a Pattern and Print It

Choose a game board to make. Download and print the pattern. The game board is offered in two configurations, with and without diagonals, that are played with slightly different rules. You might make one of each to see how the different rules alter the game.
Choose a design that prints in color, or select a black & white pattern and use your creativity to add color and designs.

Easy Game Board: These patterns can be used to make a simple "print, cut and play" game board. Just follow the instructions in the English Board Solitaire craft project.

Fox and Geese Board
Printable pattern for Fox and Geese Game Board
Square Board
Printable Fox and Geese Game Board - square
Alternate Board
Printable pattern for Fox and Geese Alternate Game Board
Alternate Tiled Board
Printable pattern for Fox and Geese Alternate Tiled Game Board

Patterns are Adobe PDF files. The Adobe Reader is available for free.

All of Aunt Annie's project patterns are designed to be printed on standard letter-size paper (8.5"x11" or A4). When printing from Adobe Reader, you may need to select Auto-Rotate and Center or Choose paper source by PDF page size to ensure the best fit.

Step 2: Color (optional)

Color the game board with any colors you like. Pick two or more contrasting colors, using a different color for the center space where the fox piece starts.

Tip: If you printed a colored version of the board, you can still add a personal touch by decorating the border around it.

Step 3: Cut Cut square board

Trim the printed pattern to a square shape with equal borders on all sides of the game board. Cut a piece of iron-on adhesive the same size or a bit larger. If needed, cut the felt to 9" by 12".

Tip: Choose a color of felt that complements the game board colors. Dark colors usually work best. The ribbon should coordinate with the felt's color.

Step 4: Make Pocket Make game piece pocket

On one of the short sides of the felt, fold over 1½" and press the crease with your fingers. Cut two short lengths of hemming tape and apply between the two layers of felt on both sides. Press with your fingers to ensure a good hold.  This makes a pocket for your game pieces.

Tip: Make a sharper crease in the felt by ironing the fold. Use the iron's synthetic or wool setting depending upon the type of felt you are using. Be careful! Irons require adult supervision!

Step 5: Assemble Place game board on felt with even margins Apply iron-on adhesive to back of game board

Place a pillowcase folded in half on a Formica counter or ironing board. Following the craft adhesive instructions, apply the adhesive to the back of the game board square. After it cools, remove the paper backing and flip it over and place it on the felt with even margins. Iron the game board to the felt using the synthetic setting. Be careful! Irons require adult supervision!

Tip: Be sure to carefully read and follow the instructions that come with the iron-on craft adhesive.

Step 6: Roll Up the Board Roll-up game board and tie with ribbon

Cut an 18" length of ribbon and lay it out on the table. Place your game pieces in the board's pocket, and fold the pocket over. Now, loosely roll up the board, no more than a couple of turns. Place the roll on the center of the ribbon and tie it up with a bow. Loosen the tie and unroll the board to play a game of Fox and Geese.

Tip: Some craft adhesives are stiffer than others. If the board resists being rolled, don't force it! In that case, just fold the board over and tie it closed. The pieces will still stay in the pocket.

Tip: If one end of the board curls when you unroll the board, simply roll it the other direction to flatten it out.

Step 7: Play Fox and Geese

You will need 14 playing pieces in two different colors (1 fox and 13 geese) to play Fox and Geese. You can use pieces from other games, coins, marshmallows, or dry cereal (Trix). You can even make your own pieces with homemade Modeling Dough.

Fox and Geese game setup

The object of the game is for the geese to trap the fox and the fox to avoid being trapped. The game is played by two players, with one player using the single fox piece and the other controlling the 13 geese. Don't worry that the fox is outnumbered—it has the special ability to jump.

  1. Place the fox on the center space and place the 13 geese on one side of the board as shown in yellow. The game board is set up the same way for both game board configurations—with and without diagonals.
  2. All pieces can move to any open space. They move one space at a time along any line. On the alternate game boards, without diagonals, the geese can move down, left and right, but cannot move backwards!
  3. The fox may capture the geese by jumping. No other pieces are allowed to jump. How the fox jumps and captures geese
    • A capture is made by jumping over a piece.
    • A captured piece is removed from the board.
    • All jumps are over an adjacent piece to an empty space beyond. Multiple jumps are allowed.
  4. Draw to see who goes first, then take alternating turns.

The geese try to crowd the fox into a corner and trap it. The fox tries to capture as many geese  as possible. When the fox is trapped (can't move), the game is over and the geese win. The fox wins when it becomes impossible for the geese to trap it.

That's it! Have fun playing your hunt game!
Fox and Geese roll-up game board on yellow felt

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When and where did the game of Fox and Geese originate?

Fox and Geese comes from Iceland and was invented during the Viking era. Its Icelandic name, Hala-tafl (the Fox Game), can be found in literature from over six hundred years ago. The game came to England in the 1400s. Queen Victoria liked to play it when she was young. Like other hunt games, the sides are unequal in number. You would think that the geese always win, but the fox has special powers. The fox can jump and capture, and this makes the sides equal.

Other hunt games...

Other hunt games seemed to have originated in Arabia or Asia, and were brought to Spain by the Moors. The game of De Cercar La Liebre (Catch the Hare) was described in a manuscript, Libro de Juegos, from 1283. Modern Catch the Hare (De Cercar La Liebre) game boards do not include diagonals.

Leopard hunt games are played on triangular game boards. They are found in India, Thailand, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. It is thought that these games developed independently from Fox and Geese.

There are many other versions of these games, like Kaooa, which is played on a star-shaped board with seven Kaooas and one tiger. Or a Japanese game called Sixteen Soldiers, which pits rebel soldiers against their former general.

Hunt games were originally played on the intersections of a lined game board. These boards were easily drawn in the ground. Modern versions of these games are now played on boards with spaces, more like a checkerboard.

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Before you start:
  • Make a place to work.
  • Read all of the directions.
  • Gather everything you need to do the project.
  • Think about the project. Imagine how it will look and what you will do with it.

Are you ready?
Okay, get started!!!

Game board pocket

Tip: The game board includes a pocket to hold the game pieces. The pocket is folded over to hold the pieces in when the board is rolled up.

Fox and Geese game board made with yellow felt

Tip: Select felt and ribbon in colors that coordinate with the game board. Game pieces in similar colors are nice, too.

Catch the Hare game board

Tip: Hunt board games are played all over the world, see the Catch the Hare craft project for the Moorish hunt game known as Cercar La Liebre in Spain.

Rolled game boards in a variety of colors

Tip: Roll the game boards loosely.

Game board folded over

Tip: If the board seems too stiff to roll, just fold it over and tie with a ribbon.

Tiled game board without diagonals

Tip: An alternate version of Fox and Geese features a game board without the diagonal lines. The rules are a bit different, too. The geese aren't allowed to move backward!

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