The games master who enjoys a good Stramash

Tony Mitchell took a homemade board game that he used to play with his friends and turned it into an international hit.

Mention the word ‘game’ to any teenager and they’ll immediately assume it involves a computer or a console plugged into the television.

But Tony Mitchell took a different route when he was creating Stramash and decided to launch a good old-fashioned board game instead.

‘Stramash was a game that we used to play with family and friends when we went away for the weekend up to Plockton or down to the Solway Firth,’ Tony remembers. ‘Back then we just knew it as “The Game”. It was great fun and we loved it.’

Stramash is based on Parcheesi, an Indian board game that dates back to ancient times and which was also the basis for Ludo. The game uses a deck of playing cards instead of dice, giving players more options on how many spaces to move when it’s their turn to play.

Tony, who was previously the commercial manager at Hibs football club in Edinburgh, was working in Hong Kong when he decided to turn The Game into Stramash and sell it.

Rather than making the board out of plastic and having to produce hundreds of thousands of copies to make it economically viable, Tony instead opted for a wooden board with six interlocking pieces and marbles – or ‘laddies’ – as playing pieces.

‘Using playing cards instead of a dice means that the game is far more strategic and tactical,’ he explains.

‘You can choose which card from your hand you want to play and that determines how you move your laddies. When you land on someone else’s marble you can send them back to the start – doing that certainly makes the game more feisty.’

Tony created an amusing back story for the game – suggesting it had been played by characters from history such as John Knox, Rob Roy and even Queen Victoria – and it went on sale in 2011. He has now signed a deal to distribute Stramash in the United States.

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(This feature was originally published in 2015)