Sha'rah is a complex boardgame that dates back to an age before the Age of Legends.
Layout and design
Sha'rah is played on a 15x15 board, the middle 13x13 squares alternating black and white and the outer squares, called goal rows, alternating green and red. Each player is given thirty-three pieces, one player red, one player green; certain pieces have varying moves, but none can occupy a square in a goal row.
The central square is occupied by the Fisher King, a black and white piece with a bandage blinding its eyes and one hand pressed to its side with drops of blood dripping through the fingers. The Fisher King's attributes change depending on what color square it occupies; on white it is weak in attack yet agile and far-ranging in escape; on black it is strong in attack but slow and vulnerable. The Fisher King is able to occupy a goal row square, but that ends the match. Either player can capture the Fisher King and the Fisher King can change sides many times in a game.
The objective of sha'rah is to put the Fisher King on a square of your color in the goal row. There are three ways of meeting this objective:
- Capture the Fisher King and move him onto a square of your color on the goal row behind your opponent. You can still move the Fisher King onto a square of your color anywhere else on the board, but it is not victory and it can still be threatened there.
- Force your opponent to move the Fisher King onto a square of your color anywhere along the goal row.
- Kill every piece belonging to your opponent.
In the Third Age
The only knowledge of the game comes from Moridin. The exact number of pieces is not certain, as Moridin states that the pieces were arrayed in a re-creation of the early stages of a famous game. Both sides may have lost pieces prior to our view of the board. Moridin thinks the Fisher King may be originate from a Dragon or Dragon Reborn of an earlier Age. According to Moridin, only nine living people remember the game, obviously the nine remaining Forsaken. The game of stones is a derivative of sha'rah, although it strongly resembles game Go.
Sha'rah strongly resembles the Norse game tafl. There are many boards in the tafl variant. There is gwyddbwyll, ard-ri, fidchell, brandubh, fitchneal, tablut, tawlbwrdd, hnefatafl, and alea evangelii.
The Fisher piece is likely patterned after the Fisher King, a wounded monarch that is the keeper of the Holy Grail in some versions of the legends of King Arthur. The Fisher piece's wounds parallel significant wounds suffered by Mat and Rand, but this may be coincidence, since they both also have other injuries (Rand's missing hand and Mat's neck scar.)