This is a good board game for two to four players. The board is a fairly simple grid of squares, with starting rows all around the edges. Players try to get their pieces from their starting rows to the rows opposite. First one to finish wins.
My home-made Traverse board, with glass pieces.
Each player has eight pieces: two circles, two squares, two triangles, and two diamonds. Each has its own way of moving, and there is a logical connection between a piece's shape and its movement: each can move in the direction of its faces (not its corners). A circle, therefore, can move in all directions, whereas a triangle (positioned with one point pointing forwards across the board) can move forwards on the diagonal, and straight backwards.
Players are free to set up their pieces in any order on the starting row. This is a nice touch. After this, they make moves in turn across the board. After a few moves, a piece is likely to be in a position to make a jump or two. Pieces can jump each other in order to move faster. Players can position their own pieces to help each other, or can take advantage of opposing pieces and jump them. They jump a bit like draughts (checkers) but jumps do not capture pieces, but instead just speed up movement. There are advanced rules, which you will probably quickly find yourself adopting, that allow pieces to make very long jumps, and for circle pieces to be sent back to the start when they are jumped. Since circles are such useful pieces, this is a nice rule that makes it a challenge to choose when to bring out the circles. Too early and they are likely to be sent back, but too late and the race will be over.
I first encountered this game in a home-made form. A friend had made a travelling version, where the board was a piece of painted leather, which became a bag to keep the pieces in. The pieces were white blobs of glass onto which the shapes had been painted in glass paint, in the four colours of the players. I have now made my own version, with a conventional flat board, and, since I couldn't find white glass blobs, I used coloured glass (flower arranging) blobs, with the shapes painted on in white outlined in black. The commercially available game has pieces that are the actual shapes, rather than having the shapes depicted on them.
The game is certainly one that demands skill, but a child could learn the rules quite easily. The winner will be the player who played better. The rules cater for a few different levels of challenge. One cruelly difficult one forbids moving a piece once it has ended up in the finishing row, which means that a player will have to plan very carefully to avoid getting into a position where finishing is impossible.
The four player version has players jumping not only their own pieces and those coming towards them, but also the pieces of the players either side coming across them. The three player game I have not tried, and I feared that it might be unbalanced, since one player has no one opposite him. An experienced player of the game has assured me that the three-player version works fine.
Traverse is simple enough to learn, takes skill to play, and doesn't take too long. A goodie.