Copyright © 2000,2003 Elyse M. Grasso
Return to Encyclopedia contents

Halasi is played all over Shayana. The original game was related to trade routes the way chess is related to warfare, but the pieces of a halasi set can be used to play many different games, just as a deck of cards can. Like decks of cards, halasi sets can also be used for divination.

The Pieces

A full halasi set includes the following components:


The four suits of the halasi markings refer to different kinds of trade goods: hard goods, soft goods, livestock, and greenstock (plant products). They are usually identified by color, but sometimes by other kinds of ornamentation. The traditional colors are:

There are relationships between the suits:



The symbols used below are convenient approximations of the actual symbols.

SymbolSuitNumberTrade goodMeaning
ISoft0A pen or writing hook communication or information
SSoft4Thread or cord binding or connection
#Soft8Net or ladder entrapment or a way to progress
9Soft12Cloth shelter (or hiding) or ornament
OHard1Ore, raw materials beginnings or potentials
UHard5Pot or basket container or mystery
THard9Hammer tools or work
QHard13Necklace wealth or craftsmanship
FPlant2Food, harvested cropshunger, prosperity
YPlant6Fruit or nutsfertility, growth
4Plant10OilComfort, enlightenment
PPlant14Lumbersupport, barrier, strength
XAnimal3Dairy animal(goat)family, the future
MAnimal7Working animal(cat)companionship, vigilance
KAnimal11Draft animal(camel)burden or journey
RAnimal15Meat animal(pig)life, death

How to play


Each player selects one territory tile as a home tile and places a number of territory tiles face down in the territory pool and gives a territory fee to the bank. Each player adds a full set of dominos in the domino pool. The pools are mixed around.

Each player buys an additional territory from the territory pool for a territory fee, and 4 dominos for a domino fee, but does not look at them yet. It is common for the territory fee to be a multiple of 48 (2 points per triangle) and the domino fee to be a multiple of 4 (also 2 points per triangle), for a total of 64 points for the initial buyin. A player using unfamiliar tiles, playing against people using their own tile sets, will be given a discount on the first territory purchased as compensation for having an unfamiliar home.

The players roll a die to determine the sequence in which they will add territories to the layout. Every territory (after the first) must be added so that it is adjacent to at least one territory already in the layout. Empty holes and loops can be left in the layout. In the first round, each player chooses whether to add the home territory or the other one to the layout without looking at the bought territory until after making the decision.

After all players have added 2 territories to the layout, regular play begins.

The die is used to determine the order of play, which may not be the same as the order of setup. Each player in turn must roll the die and buy that many dominos (for the domino fee) from the pool, then move in one of the following ways.

  1. Buy a territory for the territory fee and add it to the layout.
  2. Legally add one or more dominos to a route on the layout.
  3. Pay half the cost of all dominos remaining in the players hand and return them to the pool, in order to leave the game. (When playing for money, it is possible to be too broke to buy your way out of a game. This is not a good thing.)

The following rules govern placing of dominos:

  1. The first domino a player places on the layout in the first round of play must have one end placed on one of the six triangles at the center of the player's home territory, and the domino end and triangle must have the same marking (a 'self' match).
  2. All dominos placed during a single turn must form a single group or run.
  3. To be placed on the layout, a domino must fit one of the following criteria:

If the result of the turn is the existence of a new route from one market center to another, the player must announce the route. If more than two market are newly connected, only the connections that are announced will be paid for, so the player needs to be thorough when announcing routes.

The round is scored as follows:

Play continues until the bank is empty or only one player remains. The last player receives any funds left in the bank. What happens when the bank is broken is decided beforehand. Generally, if the bank does not contain enough to cover the current player's score, the other players buy themselves out (at full domino prices, not half) to make up the difference. Sometimes in a large game there will be a cycle of the bank going broke, some people buying themselves out, the game continuing with the buyout money, the bank going broke again, etc. until there is only one player left.


Player uses a double set of dominos and at least 8 Territory tiles, of which 2 (1 out of 3, if more than 8 are used) are market tiles with center markings. Put all the dominos in the pool and mix them up, then draw 4.

Select one market tile to be the home base. Place the others face down and mix them. Take a territory at random and place it against one side of the home territory. Take a second territory and place it against one or both of the existing territory tiles. Continue until there are 2 market territories in play.

Roll the die. Draw that many dominos. Play as for multiplayer play (with the exceptions listed below) until no further moves are possible or a score of the market fee times the number of territories plus domino fee times the number of dominoes drawn is reached.


Scoring works a little like Scrabble. The dominos have values of their own, but those values may be multiplied or decreased by the tile spaces they cover as well as the tiles they adjoin.

Triangle scoring

A triangle (half domino) has four possible neighbors: the territory triangle beneath it and up to 3 adjacent half dominoes, one of which will be the other half of the same domino. For each domino placed on the board, add up the new relationships of its two halves.

Opponent-2, for an adjoining domino or territory
-1, for the other half of the same domino

Unplaced dominos can have inherent values ranging from -2 to 6.

The theoretical maximum score for placing a single domino on the board (which would be a doubleheaded domino matching both foundations and 4 pre-existing neighbors) is 24, plus one point for placing the domino: 25, not counting scores for route creation. The minimum on an empty board(placing a first tile where the two halves are opponents and the second side lands on an opposing territory) is -1, plus the placement point for a net of zero. The worst score for placing a domino on a full board would be -9, plus the placement point for -8.

A run is scored by adding the scores for all of the individual triangles on all of the dominos that are placed. The calculation is typically done in two passes: first the triangles plus the territories beneath them as the dominos are placed, then when everything is in place, the neighbor scores for all the domino triangles are added to the total.

Path Score

One point for each domino in the announced route(s) plus one point for each market reachable, and an extra point if one of the linked markets is the player's home.

Return to Encyclopedia contents
Copyright © 2000 Elyse M. Grasso