List of Games‎ > ‎

Siege of Paris

Alternate Names
Siege de Paris (French)

No. of Players
Two, Three or Five

A Siege of Paris board and the Siege of Paris counters are required for play.  The 44 total counters are divided into three teams.  Two of the teams are the attacking German and Prussian armies (Black and White here) and one team is the defending French army (Red here).  Each attacking army is composed of 1 general, here represented with a hexagon; 1 colonel represented here with a pentagon; 2 captains represented here with a square; 2 lieutenants represented here with a triangle; and 12 soldiers represented here with a circle.  (Note that the more sides to the shape representing the piece correlates to more powerful officers.) The defending French army starts in the citadel and is comprised of 1 general, 1 colonel, and six soldiers.  

The board is a rectangular checkerboard composed of 12x16 squares.  The central 36 squares are transformed into an area of 8 connected cells that comprise a citadel (or fortress) that is to be defended by the French army.  

Surviving sets of the original game are rare.  Of course, there have been many reconstructions in modern times.  


The attacking army wins by placing one officer and three soldiers inside the citadel.  The defenders win by capturing 24 opposing soldiers and 6 officers (source?).

Although the general premise of the game is well understood, some of the known rule sets are vague in some situations, which is characteristic of games prior to the 20th century.  The board is setup as shown above.  Note that the defending French army in the citadel is not obligated to any start in position, so long as all of their pieces are arrayed within the citadel at start. The position shown above is just one that can be used.  The turns alternate as such:  The defender moves one piece first, then White moves one of his pieces, then the Defender, then Black moves a piece., and then the sequence starts over again with the Red defender.  This is the same for two or three players.  When playing with two players, one player is the attacker and plays both White and Black. 

Unanswered question  How do five players play? 

There are different rules that govern the attacking armies and the defending army.

Movements of the Attacking Armies
  • None of the attacking pieces may move backwards.  
  • The general (black and white hexagons, in my example) moves one, two, or three squares at a time: sideways, diagonally forward or straight forward.
  • The colonels (black and white pentagons) moves orthogonally one or two squares at a time, but not backwards.
  • The captains (black and white squares) moves orthogonally one square at a time, but not backwards.  
  • The lieutenants (black and white triangles) move diagonally one or two squares at a time, but not backwards,
  • The soldiers move diagonally forward only, and can only move one square at at time.  The soldiers that start on dark cells will stay on dark cells throughout the game, and vice versa for soldiers on white squares.
  • Attacking counters cannot capture defenders, but may successfully blockade them.until they are relieved by their Officers.
Movements of the Defending Army
  • All eight defending pieces may only move one space at at time while still inside the citadel.  After they leave, however, the rules governing their movements change.
  • Outside the citadel, the general can move any direction orthogonally or diagonally a distance of one or two squares.
  • Outside the citadel, the colonel moves in any direction orthogonally, but not diagonally, to an adjacent vacant square (a distance of one square).  
  • Outside the citadel, the soldiers move in any diagonal direction.  After leaving the citadel, a soldier may not move to a cell of a different color.  It can, however, re-enter the citadel and leave onto a different color than before.  The rules never allow for more than three defending soldiers to occupy cells of the same color outside the citadel.  
  • Defending pieces may also capture opposing pieces, so long as they are outside the citadel.  Capture is by replacement and is compulsory per Botermans (1), but not compulsory by other sources.
  • Attacking pieces may not be captured inside the citadel.  
  • Attacking pieces that are "covered" may not be captured.   


Two, three, or five players.

Compulsory capture?

  1. Botermans, Jack.  The Book of Games: Strategy, Tactics & History.  Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2008.  ISBN 978-1-4027-4221-7