Hare & Tortoise Prototype.
Prototype, 1973
grew out of an original movement mechanism I devised in 1969 for an abortive game called Space Race. (It was the year of the first moon landing.) Development was remarkably rapid: invented 13 October 1973, tested 20 October, revised and replayed 4 November, play-tested soon after by the Games & Puzzles review panel, and licensed to the then recently-founded publisher Intellect Games on 17 December.

First edition

Intellect Games, 1974
Intellect had it on the shelves by June 1974. The first edition, designed by Shirtsleeve Studio in Victorian style, has since become a collectors' item. In 1975 Games & Puzzles magazine ran a readers' poll which placed Hare & Tortoise in the Top Ten after Scrabble, Mastermind, Diplomacy and Monopoly, and ahead of Cluedo (US 'Clue'). Unfortunately, Intellect Games was sold in 1976 and poor management led to the virtual loss of the game from the UK market, though it continued to rate high in British Game of the Year polls.

Ravensburger 1978

Ravensburger (German)
Ravensburger 1978
Ravensburger published the award-winning first German edition in 1978 in a design best described as Ruritanian, or fairy-tale romantic. By the end of the year it had become one of Germany's fastest-selling games. Sublicensed to other European manufacturers, the same design appeared in French (Le Lièvre et la Tortue), Dutch (Haas en Schildpad) and Spanish (La Liebre y la Tortuga). An Italian version also featured the Ravensburger board and cards, but surmounted by a startlingly blue box-lid .
French box lid Italian box lid
French and Italian versions

Having discovered by now that H&T was not really a kids' game, Ravensburger produced this more restrained box design for the French edition, which was also used for their American English-language edition.

Waddingtons 1980

With the demise of Intellect Games and its purchaser, the UK licence was taken up in 1980 by Waddingtons House of Games, with abysmal design and production values including a reduction to a maximum of four players to save on production costs. They seem also to have sublicensed it to Majora, a Portuguese company. Thomas Malloy kindly sent me a picture of "A Lebre e a Tartaruga" of which he purchased an old, battered copy (here prettied up for reproduction).

Waddingtons box lid Portuguese box lid
Waddingtons 1980, with Portuguese sub-licence

Waddingtons extras

Waddingtons also produced a promotional version of the game in which carrots were replaced by glasses of Britvic fruit juice. In 2009 that found this image of an edition of it evidently sublicensed by Waddingtons to the former Australian games company John Sands.

Britvic lid Australian box lid
The Britvic promotional and the Australian edition


Norwegian box lid Swedish box lid
Norwegian edition and more sedate Swedish design
Waddingtons subsequently sublicensed to Swedish games company Alga, who published it in Norwegian, Danish, and, I believe, Finnish ("Jänis ja kilpikonna"), though I have never actually seen the Finnished product. (For a reading of the fable in Finnish, visit Papunet). Alga subsequently smartened up the box design to make it look less like a kids' game .

Back to UK: Gibsons

Gibsons UK 1987
1987 the UK rights were taken up by Gibsons Games, of whom I then lived within walking distance. They had the happy idea of going back to Shirtsleeve Studio, designers of the original Intellect version, who responded by updating it from early to late Victorian. For this new edition I revised the layout by moving the first lettuce square from 7th to 10th from Start, now widely regarded as a definite improvement.

Abacus 2000

Abacus box lid
Abacus/Rio Grande
When Ravensburger inexplicably ceased publication in 1999 Joe Nikisch of Abacus Games undertook its republication in Germany. To avoid copying Ravensburg Ruritanian Joe commissioned an updated design that managed to combine fantasy with modernity, hard though it may be to envisage racing drivers subsisting on carrots and lettuces. Abacus sub-licensed to Rio Grande for the US edition.

Back to Ravensburger

Ravensburger box lid
Ravensburger 2008
A change of management at Ravensburger led to a change of mind when the Abacus agreement was due to end. For their new edition - appearing nearly 30 years after their first publication! - the game reverted to its best-known design, but with the improved layout of 1987 (first lettuce on 10th square) and revisions to the hare-card instructions. Ravensburger also asked for an additional racetrack suitable specifically for two or three players. I therefore removed the '4' squares and made corresponding adjustments elsewhere. Thus the current Ravensburger edition is double-sided.

Gibsons again

Gibsons 2010 box Gibsons 2010 board
Gibsons 2010: box and board
In 2010 Gibsons republished the game for the English-language market. Michael Gibson decided to break away from the traditional Ruritanian ethos and at my suggestion commissioned cartoonist Simon Chadwick to produce a design more in keeping with the intellectual nature of what is essentially an abstract game with a light thematic dressing up. Outline sketches surrounding the actual race track depict famous English landmarks, including St Paul's Cathedral, the Blackpool Tower and The Angel of the North.

Devir Iberia

Devir Iberia 2014
A new edition for the Spanish, Portuguese and South American markets, with rules in three languages including Catalan, was published in July 2014 by Devir Iberia It uses the Abacus/Rio Grande artwork and incorporates yet another version of Jugging the Hare.

On to East Asia

Broadway Games
Chinese Box Chinese Board
Chinese box and board (detail)
(Hong Kong) did redesigned versions for the Chinese and Japanese markets, with artwork by Pedro A. Alberto. Note the animal bystanders: definitely mixed-race, from jungle to farmyard creatures. (I love the giraffe in a skimpy blue scarf!). The lettuce squares now become 'nap' squares, depicting a comfy bed with a colourful quilt. Very appropriate!

A French reimplementation

Autour du monde
In 2016 Benoît Forget, the brain behind Purple Brain Games, asked me to lend the mechanism of Hare & Tortoise a gamification of Around the World in 80 Days (Le tour du monde en 80 jours), in a series devoted to games based on classic literary works. I modified the mechanism by expanding the race track from 64 to 80 spaces (naturally!), and Benoît made some other changes to accord more closely with the details of Jules Verne's story. He also made some changes to the equivalent of the hare squares which I think introduced so great an element of chance into players' interactions as to reduce the strategic skill of the game by about half.

Pirates and home-made versions

François Haffner exchanged his copy of this pirated Czech edition for one of my only two remaining copies of Shoulder to Shoulder. Strange that lettuces are here replaced by apples. Does that make Bohemia a lettuce-free zone?
Czech board Czech box lid
Bohemian pirate

Rudolf Rühle, of the European Society of Game Collectors (ESG) sent me these images of a 1986 Hungarian pirate with a motor racing theme. Quantities of fuel replace carrots, and lettuce squares have become compulsory pit stops.

Hungarian box lid Hungarian board
The Hungarian pirate

This Austrian promotional adaptation, apparently advertising an electrical company, (the principal characters are "Voltinger & Wattinger") was exhibited by Rudolf Rühle at the ESG stand at the 2011 Essen game fair.
Austrian board Austrian box
Austrian electrical promotion

In 1984 Wolfgang Großkopf, a games enthusiast in the GDR (German Democratic Republic), home-produced a one-off version of Hare & Tortoise using standard playing-cards for his hand-made board and renaming it "Energie". Großkopf similarly reproduced many other western games that took his fancy, and subsequently donated his entire collection of them to the European Society of Game Collectors, whose co-founder Rudolf Rühle kindly me with these images.

Energie Energie
Home-made east of the Berlin Wall

Made by Goepner Made by Karbe
Two more home-made versions from the former GDR
I visited the Chemnitz Games Museum in 2013 and saw some exhibits left over from a previous exhibition of home-made products ("Nachgemacht". Here are two of them: Left by Helmut Göpner of Hennickendorf, right by Michael Karbe of Berlin-Lichtenberg.

Argentine game board Argentine box lid
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, another pirated edition was being produced by a South American games company called Tipo's. I'm not sure whether this set, sent me in the late 1980s by my late friend Jaime Poniachik of Buenos Aires is from Argentina or Uruguay. Possibly both.

Spot the difference

Games collectors are intrigued by the fact that almost every edition or reprinting incorporates greater or lesser differences from the previous one. The most significant differences relate to the arrangement of the board, the number of carrots youy may not have more than upon reaching Home, and methods of jugging the hare. For details, see Rules of play and Jugging the hare. A relatively minor difference is that in some editions the squares are numbered backwards from 64 (immediately after Start) to 1 (immediately before Home), enabling you to see at a glance from any position how far it is to Home and thus how many carrots you need. This helpful guide first appeared in the second Intellect version (1976) and has been sporadically followed in subsequent versions of the game.
Balloon up
H&T link