Description: This is a total conversion modification for the venerable game of Snakes and Ladders which is designed to make the game fun and interesting enough for adults to play.
Discussion: The original game was designed in 1800’s in India and re-created elsewhere as a morality tale to reinforce the values of the day (vices and virtues). The mechanics of “roll the dice, move down the fixed path” reinforces the ideas of fate and acceptance of your place in society. From a historical standpoint, this game is fascinating. From a game designer standpoint this game is an abomination. Good games are defined by the choices it offers the players. Snakes and Ladders, which has no choices, isn’t a good game by this definition. I created this version because the original version is so boring my 5 year old son couldn’t make it past round 6. This version I will play even at a table of adults.
Parts: In addition to what comes in the box. Each player will need 5 tokens of the same color. I use poker chips, but coins or colored candies will work just as well. I also replace the spinner with a regular 6-sided dice but that is because I dislike spinners. Setup is quicker with 2, 10-sided dice, but they aren’t required.
Old Rule: The traditional way you play Snakes and Ladders is rolling (spinning) and moving down the fixed path then either ascending a ladder if you ended on the bottom, or descending a snake if you landed on its head. There are no choices and the winner is determined purely by luck.
New Rule: Players start on the space marked 100 (this is traditionally the end) and will be racing each other to collect all of their tokens by moving freely around the map, then racing to end back on the 100.
Play: On your turn, you pick one of the 4 cardinal directions then roll the dice. You move in the chosen direction the number of spaces, if your roll puts you off the edge of the board stop on the edge of the board*.
If you land on either end of a snake or ladder, move to the other end of that snake or ladder.
If you land on or pass over one of your tokens, not counting moving by snake or ladder, pick it up and put it in front of you (or eat it if it is candy).
If you pass over more than one of your tokens in a single move, you can only pick up one, your choice.
Once you have all 5 of your tokens collected, you need to move back to the 100 space to win. *If you have all 5 of your tokens, and your roll would put you off the board in the direction you chose, do not move. You need to roll exactly (or take the ladder) to land on the final space and win.
Setup: To setup you will need to distribute the tokens randomly around the board. Different players may have their tokens in the same space, but the only one token per player.
You can use any method of randomly distributing the tokens on the board, so long as no space has two tokens for the same player and no token is on 100.
Some methods include:
Use a random number generator for numbers 1-99.
If you have 2, 10-sided dice (either percentile or two different colors) you can roll the pair 5 times per player, placing a token on each space rolled, re-rolling if you get the same space or 100.
If you only have the spinner or a 6-sided dice. Start by pointing at 100, roll the dice and move your finger right a number of spaces equal to the roll. Then roll again, this time move your finger down the board the number of spaces rolled and put a token there. Repeat these steps 4 more times starting where the previous token was just placed. If you roll off the edge of the board, wrap around on the same row or column. If you would place a token on a space that already has one of this players tokens or is the 100 space, place the token in one of the 4 diagonal spaces.
Once all 5 of one player’s tokens are placed, start over from 100 for placing the next player’s tokens. This is quickest and easiest to have one person roll and another count on their finger and place tokens.
Winning: The first player to collect (or eat!) all five of their tokens and return to the 100 space wins the game.
Recommendation: Try this game modification using candy!