Move over chess, backgammon is one of the oldest board games known to mankind. Unlike chess, backgammon boards come in suitcase form, and have a gorgeous exterior that encourages you to dive into the world of backgammon. Are you shopping for someone who admires handcrafted pieces, especially ones that they can use or play with? If so, you may want to indulge them by finding the best backgammon board you can buy.
Speaking of prices, backgammon sets that are beautifully handcrafted aren’t as expensive as you might think. Most backgammon sets are great for beginners, so you don’t have to go to great lengths to find a good one for a new player, but there are backgammon sets that are catered specifically to those in tournament play. Typically, professionals know what to look for when it comes to their set, but we’ve got you covered whether you’re a professional or an amateur.
Backgammon is a type of game that uses strategy like chess, but with different accessories to help you move, like dice. Two players play the game and you must move your checkers around the 24 triangular points based on your roll. When you have successfully taken all of your pieces off the playing board, you have won.
In this article, we’ll show you which backgammon sets are worth the purchase. Whether you’re looking to break out into the semi-professional world of backgammon or maybe you just have a grandpa that loves the game — either way, this list of the best backgammon sets should help you find what you’re looking for.
If you’re in a rush to pick, the best budget option (less than $50) is the Top Backgammon set. And if you’re looking for something a little nicer but not uber-luxe, we recommend the Viscount 18 inch set.
Overview of The Best Backgammon Sets
Table Of Contents
- Best Backgammon Set Reviews
- The Final Verdict
- Backgammon Sets Buyer’s Guide
- The Top Backgammon Set Brands
Best Backgammon Set Reviews
Manufactured by Silverman & Co., the 19-inch traditional dark brown backgammon set is luxurious and old school in design. A classic style accompanied by beautiful craftsmanship, those who have companions who enjoy the beauty of a board will love this backgammon set. Features of this set include:
- Leatherette exterior, smooth surface
- When closed, measurements are: 19″ x 12-5/8″ x 2-3/4″
- Rugged handle, great and strong frame
- Easy storage and travel capabilities for tournaments
The gorgeous leatherette exterior is sleek and has a solid construction, equipped with a strong frame. Placed in an easy to move case, you don’t have to worry about lugging something heavy to your tournaments. A rugged handle perfect for those who often use said handle, you also won’t have to worry about it breaking any time soon. The latches are particularly strong, eliminating the possibility of your pieces falling out and the item breaking. Gorgeous craftsmanship is just one of the many advantages of using this backgammon set. Looking from the outside, you can tell that the pieces inside and the board itself will be stunning – and it is!
One of my favorite aspects of this backgammon set is the exterior. It’s like a briefcase, and is less tacky than other backgammon cases/sets on the market today. Elegant with a dash of masculinity, this portable set will turn heads at tournaments.
#1 Top Backgammon Set, Classic Board Game Case
Created by Get the Games Out, the #1 Top Backgammon set boasts many features. The old-school appearance on the outside is reminiscent of that one briefcase Fred Flintstone was gifted by Barney in the John Goodman movie, but has more attractive features on the inside. There are many features this top backgammon set has, including the following:
- Three sizes available
- Leatherette carrying case, brass tinted buckles
- Playing chips, playing dice, dice shakers, strategy guide, doubling cube included
With all accessories including, you really can’t go wrong with this set. With a leatherette carrying case and brass tinted buckles (sorry, not real brass from our conclusions), along with other accessories, there’s no reason you shouldn’t take the plunge to purchase this set. It does have extra chips and dice (one of each color) in case your pieces are lost. With beautifully constructed pieces, this game will last a lifetime in both playing trends and aesthetics. Coming in three sizes (unlike many on the market), you can purchase this in small, medium, or large. If you’re curious about the specific measurements, we’ve listed them below:
- Small – 11″ (open: 15 x 11 x 1, closed 11 x 7.5 x 1.75)
- Medium – 14″ (open: 19 x 14.75 x 1, closed 15 x 9.5 x 2)
- Large – 18″ (open: 22.5 x 18 x 1, closed 18 x 11 x 2)
Beyond the aforementioned, my favorite feature of this set has to be the strategy guide that comes equipped. For those who are new to the game or thinking about getting into it, you can learn tricks that the pros use to help defeat your opponent.
14.75″ Recreational Board Game Vinyl Backgammon Set
With a similar appearance to the previous set, this one has specific sizing that the other doesn’t. Manufactured by CHH, this vinyl backgammon set has the following features:
- Brown and white pieces, two sets of matching dice, two cups, and one doubling cube
- Dimensions: 10 x 14.75 x 1.87
While the quality may not be tournament-worthy as it’s vinyl, vinyl is actually a lot tougher than many people tend to assume. When taken care of properly, this material can last for ages. Above al,l this set is perfect for younger ones who want to learn the game but aren’t “old enough” for a more professional set, as they may not know how to take care of leatherette. The price reflects the more casual quality and it’s a great set for recreational use, just like the product title says.
With all of the pieces you need to get started, you can buy, get home, and play to your liking! The pieces are plastic, so they can take quite a beating, and are very smooth for the perfect roll.
Overall, I love the design of this set, as its traditional and it’s not overly large. I don’t feel like I need to take care of this too much and it can deal with the throwing around of everyday life. The inclusion of plastic accessories for playing (as well as the price) seal the deal.
Luxury Classic Backgammon Board
Manufactured by Studio Anne Carlton, this gorgeous – stunning, actually, wooden backgammon board is for those who admired aesthetics over gameplay. While you may bring this to a tournament, this one is great to just look at. However, the beauty is more than appearance-deep, as the roots of the materials have origins from all around the world. Features of this set include the following:
- Crafted using ancient techniques
- Wood veneers like lime, ash, oak, and walnut
- Mother of Pearl hand polished
- Canvas back with origins from the Byzantine Empire and ancient Rome
Crafted with beauty and history in mind, this set goes far beyond playing and is for those who admire craftsmanship over all else. For those who want to religiously play and rough up their board, you may not want to use this pretty set – although it is quite durable! A gorgeous and somewhat matte finish on the outside has a classical, luxurious design that greets you with a unique composition on the inside. While still holding traditional design roots of backgammon, the quality of the design is out of this world. My favorite part of this backgammon set goes beyond the inner design and lies with the canvas tote that has origins of the Byzantine Empire. This is a staple piece for any connoisseur of board games.
Viscount Leather Backgammon Set
Crafted by Cambor, this unique and bright backgammon set has everything you need to get started. With inspiration from the 70’s for this board (as with many, but more with this set), you can have a unique yet bold board game in your home with a classic twist. Features of this backgammon set include:
- Interior Patched leather exterior, brass latches
- Backgammon checkers, leather dice cups
- 4 dice, 1 doubling die
- High-suede playing surface
While this backgammon set features all of the necessary accessories to begin playing, the real star of the show is the bold, orange design. With four dice and one doubling die, you won’t have to worry about not being prepared. Within this set, there’s also a beautifully constructed high-suede playing surface for giving the best roll possible. When closed, this case measures 18 x 12 (inches & w x l). My favorite part of this set isn’t the design (although it’s a close runner up), but also the price. While it’s not a high-end tournament set, it’s a nice recreational board that can provide playing enjoyment for a long time. The light orange suede may be reminiscent of Kraft Mac and Cheese, but who doesn’t love the cheesiest?! Although it’s a lovely set, the color scheme could be an acquired taste.
Alexandros Deluxe Walnut & Oak Backgammon Set
A gorgeous and neutral toned backgammon set, the Alexandros is manufactured by Bello Games New York, INC. With a traditional design, this set steps away from the leatherette or bold and orange exterior to provide you with a luxurious, light brownish-gray walnut. Created in Greece, there are multiple types of superior woods used. Features of this set include the following:
- Olive, oak, and walnut composition
- Beautiful and functional – exotic olive wood, hand buffed
- Accessories included, size: 18.5 x 11.65 x 3 (closed), 18.5 x 23.5 x 1.5 (open)
The craftsmanship of this set is primarily why people buy it, as it’s luxurious, and the origins are from Greece. However, the actual quality of the board is why I love it most. Sure, the style of it is modern, yet classic, but the overall playing quality is superior to many others on the market. The sizing is perfect for both young and seasoned, as well as a beautiful wood composition. While there are no handles for portability, it’s thin enough so you can carry it like a book with ease. If you have the budget, this is the best backgammon set you can buy on the market.
The Final Verdict
Maybe you’re still overwhelmed at which best backgammon set that you should invest in as a beginner or intermediate player, and thankfully, we’ve got some recommendations for you. If you’re okay with spending a medium amount on the set, you’ll want to look towards the Viscount leather backgammon set that measures 19 x 13 x 3 inches. Manufactured by Cambor, it’s still under $200, and features an elegant case for transporting. If you’re someone who wants the lowest priced piece possible, you may want to look at the #1 Top Backgammon Set by Get the Games Out – available in multiple sizes.
Backgammon Sets Buyer’s Guide
Backgammon sets are a great way to bring together you and a friend and have a relaxing, yet competitive afternoon. Whether you’re just learning or you’ve been playing all of your life, there are quite a few things to learn before deciding on the best set for you. Below, you’ll find benefits of using a backgammon set, as well as factors to consider, and even tips to know before purchasing.
The Benefits of Buying a Backgammon Set
Besides the obvious: being able to play a board game you like, there are quite a few other reasons to purchase a backgammon set. One of the primary reasons might be so that you can learn a brand new game. Seeing as it’s the oldest board game known to man currently, it’s a game that many people know how to play. But depending on your family or generation, you may not have been introduced to it. Never miss out on going head to head at a family party ever again – even if you’re going against your seasoned pro of a grandpa.
Another benefit to learning backgammon and buying your first set is that you’ll be able to stay on your toes more often. It’s been scientifically proven that board games and the sort aid in keeping the memory fresh, as well as quick-wit. When you exercise and stimulate your mind in a variety of ways, your brain functions better throughout the day.
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Backgammon Set
There aren’t too many factors you should consider, but one of the questions you should ask yourself is if you like boards to be loud or not. Do you like the sound of dice hitting the board? Is that one of the primary reasons you’re getting the board? Some people enjoy the ambiance that the sounds create, but there are others who can’t stand extra noises. If the latter is you, you may want to invest in a quiet, cork board or materials similar to cork.
Another factor you should consider is your budget. Just because the price of a board is higher, doesn’t mean that it’s of higher quality. As you’ll find out in the next section, there are plenty of manufacturers that have mass-produced pieces, or handcrafted pieces composed of basic materials such as acrylic, but slap a huge price tag on them because of where they’re sold. It just goes to show you that designer doesn’t mean better, but it might mean you’re a sucker.
What Makes a Board Great?
Depending on what your intention is, you’ll want a board that caters to your needs. If you don’t mind the dice being a bit louder, then you don’t have to settle for cork. When someone wants a board for professional play, they typically purchase something 28-inches or larger, and composed of cork so that the checker sliding is much easier, as well as being a much quieter game. If this is something you’re interested in at a non-tournament level, well, now you know what to look for!
While wooden boards are extremely gorgeous, and ones that are handcrafted are even more stunning, if you want something that’s a bit quieter, you’ll want to stay away from those. There are also boards made of leather that are a tad more quiet than wood and can be equally as beautiful. Other things you should consider include the size of the pieces versus the point side. When your pieces are much larger or are too small for the points, it can kind of look silly, and can appear quite disorganized.
High-End Boards Versus Low-End
With any type of luxury, you’ll be paying a steep price, as most of them are handmade from independent artists. For example, brands like Johnathan Adler hand create their game sets using the owner’s love of pottery. Typically finished in lacquer, you can find moderately priced sets on their website for around $400; however, that’s not the highest price you’ll see for luxury boards, in fact, you’ll see ones that are 10x that price.
It’s worth mentioning that you won’t always be paying a high-price for luxury pieces, in fact, most of these high-priced backgammon sets are priced high because of the brand name, not the quality of pieces. For example, while Alexandra Von Furstenberg has acrylic sets, they are typically triple the price than Johnathan Adler’s, but are sold in high-end stores. Because of this, you’ll see that the price reflects where they are sold, despite the difference in materials. Sure, Von Furstenberg’s backgammon set looks sleek, but acrylic and rubber aren’t the priciest materials out there – we’re sure that this item being sold in Barney’s has to do with the inflation of the price.
If you think that was a lot of money to spend on a backgammon set, you’re going to explode when you see that the AERIN backgammon set (from an even higher end store – Neiman Marcus) is $2,500. Before you go all Jim Carrey from the Mask on us with your jaw hanging out, we’ll let you in on why it’s so expensive: the store that it’s in! Of course, it may also have to do with some of the materials used. The aforementioned board is composed of Shagreen wood, as well as burlwood. If you look up the price of Shagreen, you’ll see a plethora of expensive pieces of furniture, leading us to believe that the quality of wood was one of the leading contenders in the price.
While burlwood tends to be much cheaper, there’s still a competitive market for pieces made from this, and those that sell burlwood. Don’t want to read everything we just wrote? The quality of materials versus the store it’s being sold in are two major factors in pricing. While you can probably buy shagreen and burlwood boards for much cheaper than $2,500, there are people who want to go above and beyond and choose designer brands.
At the end of the day, you should always look for materials you’re familiar with, or at least know that these materials are fine to use in backgammon. When you use a backgammon set with lower quality materials, you may find that the performance of the pieces may be lacking – for example: the bounce of the dice, the movement of pieces during gameplay, etc.
Materials used in high-end backgammon sets:
- Marquetry pieces
- Shagreen wood
- Macassar ebony wood
Materials used in low-end backgammon sets:
- Basic wood
What is marquetry, exactly?
For those wondering about marquetry, in short, it’s a type of design method that uses smaller pieces of wood, composed of multiple shades, for decorative purposes. It’s a type of inlaid work that’s highly desirable in traditional looking backgammon sets.
It’s also worth noting that depending on the wood, the dice may spin a lot more, and for a lot longer. If you want something that gives you a roll quick and simply, then you may want to stay away from many types of wood – especially ones that are low quality or extremely slick.
The Top Backgammon Set Brands
There are probably thousands of brands to choose from when it comes to buying a backgammon set. Some of these brands focus specifically on backgammon, while others mass produce “just another board game” to add to their inventory. Some of the better-known brands of backgammon sets include the following:
Genesis Naylor – Boards that are created by the Genesis Naylor brand are heavy, featuring a gorgeous leather scent that many admire, as well as being able to slide your checkers effortlessly across your backgammon board. With high-quality locking mechanisms on the case, it’s no wonder that this is a top brand. If you can get your hands on a set from Genesis Naylor, consider yourself lucky, as the creation of them are dwindling down.
Brahma Boards – A brand created around 2003 by Tim Ferrell and his friend Clyde, they went on to create tournament playable boards that are light in weight, but meant for serious play. Not only has this company created three AB tournament events (American Backgammon tournament), they’ve created self-proclaimed, “heirloom” quality sets.
Geoffrey Parker – If you’re in search of a high-end backgammon set brand, you may want to look towards Geoffrey Parker sets. From attache case sets to table top sets, you’ll find all you need to here, as well as being able to order custom sets.
Silverman & Co. – A brand that features medium priced backgammon sets, Silverman & Co. produces exceptional quality for those who have a somewhat tight budget. It’s been said that you won’t find a great set for under $200, but there are brands like the aforementioned that have excelled in providing this.
If you want non-luxury, non-custom sets, and are okay with mass produced pieces, you’ll want to look towards brands like Hector Saxe, Mainstreet Classics, and Pavilion Games, just to name of few. Some of these are moderately priced, while the latter brands are much more inexpensive. If you’re new to the game, you may not want to invest in anything other than a cheap wood backgammon set, and once you learn the ropes, you can dive into buying a luxury backgammon board.