I’ve stumbled into another graphic redesign of a classic strategy game. I lay the blame on Schmittberger’s New Rules for Classic Games. Based on the marketing blurbs, I expected the book to be all game variants, but that’s not exactly so. Schmittberger also gets into regional variations on folk games (which is what got me thinking again about International Checkers) as well as lesser-known games that can be played using classic game parts. It’s this last category where I found Salta.
Salta is a surprisingly constrained Halma family game. If you don’t know anything about boardgames, you’ve still heard of at least one Halma variant, which is so-called Chinese Checkers. The goal in Salta, as in all such games, is to jump over your opponent’s pieces and occupy their home spaces. Unlike most such games, though, the Salta pieces have specific home spaces for each piece. Simply filling your opponent’s field won’t do the trick: you have to re-construct their starting position piece for piece. The game was apparently quite a fad in Western Europe in the early 1900’s, with clubs, magazines, tournaments, and newspaper puzzles devoted to it.
It turns out that Salta is played on alternating squares of a 10×10 grid, just like International Checkers. All you need is pieces that you can tell apart. Okay, so I figured I’d print up some labels marked 1-15 for each color, and I’d be done. Hm, but my checkerboard is color-coded for pieces in the first four rows, and Salta uses three. So I’ll re-color it. But, if I’m going to re-color it, I could use the traditional Salta colors, which are red and green. Let’s find a picture of a vintage board:
Image by Daniel Danzer
Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported license
Oh, wait. Although Schmittberger uses pieces marked 1-15 for his DIY version, the conventional board uses 1-5 of three different suits (starts, moons, and suns; one for each home row). Well, that certainly has more pizzazz. And, while I’m at it, I could mark the home spaces with the suit and rank of the piece that goes there…
You can see where all of this is going. By the time I was done (if I am even done), my spec to print up stickers numbered 1-15 had turned into a complete re-illustration of the board as well. Still, the project was fun, and it’s already up on the PoD site.