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Tigris is based on Tokaido by Antoine Bauza and Naïade, published by Fun Forge. In the game, the players take on the roles of physicians in 13th Century Arabia as they travel along the Tigris river on a voyage of medical and scientific discovery. Along the way, the players will gather medical manuscripts, purchase materia medica and other medical items, treat patients suffering from a range of ailments, rest at hammams, and have encounters with other travellers.

Most of the historical content of this game has been sourced from the ongoing translation work undertaken by the ALHOM project team, as well as the many books and articles written by Professor Emilie Savage-Smith on the subject.

The artwork used in the game has been sourced from a number of online collections:

  • The images for the materia medica cards in the Bazaar deck are all taken from a copy of Dioscorides’ De Materia Medica, dating from mid-10th century Constantinople, and held at The Morgan Library in New York. In addition, the images used for the character cards, Encounter cards, Hammam cards, and the board spaces are all taken from manuscripts in their Oriental collections.
  • The images of medical instruments are all taken from a 15th century Latin copy of al- Zahrawi’s Kitab al-Tasrif (The Method of Medicine), held at the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin. The images of the manuscript folios come from copies held in the same archive.
  • The map used on the game board is taken from Kitāb Gharā'ib al-funūn wa-mulaḥ al- ʿuyūn (The Book of Curiosities), held at The Bodleian Library in Oxford.

Whilst it is hoped that this game will provide its players with both an entertaining and educational experience, Tigris is primarily a board game, and not a historical simulation.

Many things within the game have been abstracted, and will not accurately reflect the historical reality of Arabia during the period in which the game is set.

Such abstractions include, but are not limited to:

  • The map itself – the map used on the game board is taken from The Book of Curiosities, an illustrated anonymous cosmography, compiled in Egypt during the first half of the 11th century. The Tigris river is shown in a highly stylised design, and is of very limited accuracy. However, you are playing on a map that reflects how the geography of the area was viewed at the time.
  • The stopping points on the journey – the placement and types of places shown on the game board is central to the game, but is not meant to be a historical representation of settlements and institutions of the time. There may well have been a bazaar at the source of the Tigris, but that would simply be happy accident!
  • The characters within the game – the characters in the game bear the names of physicians who were active in 13th Century Arabia, alongside fetching painted portraits. They are not meant to be seen as accurate historical reflections of these people - indeed, the portraits on the cards are all pictures of unrelated persons, taken from the collections of illustrated manuscripts at The Morgan Library in New York.
  • The folios shown for the manuscripts – all of the images used for the manuscripts are genuine pages, but they may not be shown in the correct order. Furthermore, they do not represent the real extent of these documents, as they each run to several hundred pages, if not more.
  • The images shown for items and materia medica – every effort has been made to match the correct image to the material, but this has required some guesswork in some cases.

Having said that, the game does contain a considerable amount of historical information about medicine in the medieval Islamic world, including:

  • The establishment of hospitals (bīmāristāns) in the region during the period.
  • The emergence of madrasas not solely dedicated to the teaching of Islamic law, but also to other subjects, including medicine.
  • The existence of large libraries, and the abundance of manuscripts on all manner of subjects, as well as the names of three highly important works on medicine that were used in the period.
  • The types of ingredients that were used in the creation of medicines and the treatment of patients at the time.
  • Some of the tools and medical instruments that were available to physicians.
  • The names of important historical figures, many of whom authored works on medicine.

Contemporary players may be disconcerted by the lack of female characters, and this is something I have been very conscious of. I considered adding a female physician to address this gap, but in the end I decided that it was not reflective of the subject and time-period. In all of the biographies in Ibn Abi Usaybiah’s manuscript there is only one entry for a female physician (Zeynab), so to add her to the 18 characters included in the game would have given a false impression. Medicine was a man’s world in 13th Century Arabia.


Tigris is available for Tabletop Simulator on Steam for Windows or Mac computers. You can download the game from the following url:







An instructional video on how to play the game can be viewed below. Note that I am using automatic text to speech translation to generate subtitles, so these may occasionally be rather odd, as the technology is not quite there yet. Also note, that you should always check the rulebook - just because I developed the game doesn't mean I always remember how to play it correctly... :/



Physical copies of the game may be ordered from Gamecrafter from the following url:

Note that orders from outside of the United States will be subject to import duties and shipping costs can be quite high. 



 Forthcoming Event

On Thursday 10 December, from 6pm until 7pm, join Daniel Burt from Oxford's Faculty of Oriental Studies for a fascinating insight into the Board Games and Medieval Medicine Project as part of the Knowledge in Motion - Science and Medicine in the Islamic World lecture series at the History of Science Museum, Oxford. There is no charge to attend this online event, but you will need to register. For further information, please click here.


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