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Pacru, Shacru
& Azacru?

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History (A First Draft, and rather short on photos at this point)

In 1980 Mike Wellman played Othello for the first time. While "flipping" the black and white counters in Othello he conceived the idea of a "connection change" - a move made by a piece from a tile (marker) of its own colour to a tile of its own colour, transforming all the tiles in between to its own colour, and that this could take place in a game with 2,3 or 4 players (and therefore colours). This would be an exciting and dramatic move to make. Unlike (not passed) turns in Othello not each turn in this new game would result in a change of tiles, and more importantly there would be two kinds of objects on the board: static markers and moving pieces. However having "seen" the move he couldn't then come up with the rest of the rules for the game in which this dramatic move would take place! The idea of the move remained with Mike but it was only on holiday in the Canaries in May 2002 that the rest of the game swiftly came to him. Consequently the correct answer to how long it took to create the game can vary from 22 years to 2 weeks. The name evolved from "Nines" (self-explanatory) to "Strataic" (strategy & mosaic) and then settled for several months as "Maccru". However the realisation that this sounded like a freeby toy from the McDonalds Burger chain put an end to its appeal (especially as Mike has been a Vegan for the entire gestation period of Pacru), and the game became Pacru in the Autumn of 2002.

The first crude prototype for the board was made from card and paper, and was very unwieldy, ugly and no fit representation. Fortunately the inventor no longer had to rely on his own skills, and a proper prototype board was created using glass tiles, a wooden board, and wooden chevrons*1 . This very first prototype board disappeared from a player's car boot when they were shopping in London but this was only notified to its owner some months later. The rules had relatively few modifications over the next six months, the most major of which was the introduction of the "meeting" rule ... and no further modifcations since early 2003.

Pelle Astrom made a number of different prototype boards and in the meantime Alan Wills developed the website ( and created the Pacru software to enable anyone with suitable browser software to play for free. Back in 2002 there wasn't much broadband around and so to make life easier for potential players the browser software was made available to freely download and play off-line. Various search facilities and board game sites began to carry the link to the game, and the site has had a steady traffic since then up to summer 2006. From late 2002 for a long period we thought we had found a local Manchester manufacturer to produce the game, but in the end it was impossible for them to devise technically feasible ways to imitate the prototype tileboard design. In December 2002 Lilacru, a second game to play on the Pacru board, was invented on a train ride from Manchester to Seaford Sussex, and met the approval of the playtesting group and some very young children whom we wouldn't have dreamt of trying to teach Pacru.

in the summer of 2004 Shacru was chosen to replace Lilacru as the 2nd official game for the Pacru kit, as it retained the former's simplicity whilst introducing much more strategic possibility through the borderland twist. Lilacru thus paradoxically became an official variant of Shacru - a variant perhaps useful in teaching Shacru to the youngest of players. At the Minds Sports Olympics Shacru / Lilacru have often been identfied as "Go-like, but with movement" though obviously not to be compared in terms of strategic depth.

The prototype boards were used in the first two World Championships held at the UK Mind Sports Olympics (MSO), which was very conveniently situated in Manchester at the time (2003, 2004). Mike had been encouraged to take the game to the event by Alain Dekker, then living in Manchester, who was to become the first Pacru champion. The first manufactured Pacru board (the 101 series - with '101' cut into the wood veneer lid) was produced in the summer of 2004 and was not ready until after the MSO. It made its debut at the Essen Games Fair in Germany October 2004 where despite its relatively high price (considerably over both 100 and E150) and no previous publicity a number of copies were sold. Most visitors to the stand played Shacru since it the could be explained very quickly and a game commenced.

The game testing group continued to explore various ideas for other games on the Pacru board, and in March 2005 concluded that Azacru should be the 3rd official game for the kit. Azacru was found to work very well as a game which had relatively simple rules (and all the basic rules of Shacru were in Azacru), a good deal of strategic interaction, and kept all the players involved right to the end, since the game ends one round after any player cannot move.

The search continued to find a way to manufacture a high quality board at a reasonable price and various options were explored, and Pelle produced a number of peg-based prototypes (where a peg was used as a "marker" and the chevron had a hole which meant it could be located on a peg). The not-to-far-made manufactured Pacru pegboard version would have been Pacru 202 (second style of board, second realisation of a manufactured game). Photos of these, and the previously mentioned tile prototypes will be displayed on the site at a later time. A number of avenues opened and closed and so it was decided in Spring 2005 to consider making a cardboard game board and wooden chevron and marker set. This became the Pacru 302 series. There were the usual problems with design and manufacture, especially with Pacru Ltd making its debut in this area. Last minute problems with the shape of the chevrons meant the games were not available for the hoped-for release at the 3rd Pacru Championsips in August 2005 and instead the games were played on the 101 boards. One competitor asked if Fischer Clocks could be used in the next competition because of the extra time required for the replacement of tiles.

The new 302 series was just ready in time for Essen 2005. The relatively high price of the 302 (which is determined by the cost of producing it in current quantitites) was a discouragement to many of the players (Shacru again received much positive feedback, and some of the visitors spend more of their time in the Aladdin's Cave of the games fair learning Azacru & Pacru too). Pacru Ltd have reluctantly decided not to return to Essen unless either we have managed to produce a game kit with a much more attractive price, or we have succeeded in establishing the reputation of the three games more widely. This decision was not affected by the mysterious loss of a large number of games after the end of the fair. The same price problem coloured the responses of players/judges at the 2006 US Mensa Mindgames, an event we decided to enter since it is based upon a number of games players giving their feedback based on a playtest. Unfortunately the amount of time available to players to assess the games is strictly limited and so it was not possible for all the judges voting to play all three games in the 302 series (we had tried to enter Azacru alone to get around this problem) and so the votes for the criterion "Play Value (repeatability, longevity, price)" were strongly influenced by Pacru having the highest price in the competition, and no chance for a serious assessment (rather than a guess) at "repeatability and longevity" which are strengths of Shacru, Azacru & Pacru.

The first official Pacru variant (Pashacru) was added to the website in April. The variant was developed from a great deal of playtesting, and was found to provide a game for three or four players that was more akin to two-player Pacru than three or four player Pacru itself, as regards the options open to chevrons and the relative strategic importance of blocking.

Summer 2006 saw the Manchester open competitions for Pacru & Azacru, and the World Championships for Pacru, and for the first time, Azacru, at the 10th Mind Sports Olympiad held in London.

In the late Autumn Games Magazine reviewed the Pacru 302 set and gave it the position of Runner Up Best Abstract Strategy Game 2007. Summary version of the 3 main English language reviews of the Pacru 302 appeared on the Funagain Games website.

In early 2007 Esdevium Games started to distribute Pacru, primarily to UK distributors. GiochinScatola in Italy started to offer both the 302 set and the 101 set to their customers.

Pacru Ltd are continuing to investigate the possiblity of a new manufactured set in wood but considerably cheaper than the 101 set.
  1. * Chevrons are so called because they look like arrows, like arrows they have a direction, and though they are also known as "pieces", "chevrons" clearly distinguishes these objects from the columnar "markers" that are used instead of tiles in the 302 version.

Latest developments are in the New & Events section

A more disaster and setback focused cautionary story of Pacru can be found here shortly - currently work-in-progress inventing is one thing, publishing is another