Snakes and Ladders is a game of luck played between any number of players over two in which the objective is to avoid the snake slides and climb the ladders to the end of the grid pattern playing board. Though well known even today, snakes and ladders actually is not just old, it is ancient finding it’s origins way back in the 2nd century BC in India. The game is thought to have been created as a teaching tool for religion. The snakes were meant to represent evil or misdoings in life, the ladders good, and the finish line Nirvana or enlightenment. The moral being only those who avoid evil can reach enlightenment. The game is also capable of creating tons of fun for all ages.
Snakes and Ladders, also sometimes called Chutes and Ladders in America, can teach not only this moral lesson while being enjoyable but also counting skills in children.
This simple guide on how to play snakes and ladders will cover game play, rules, and even a complete history of the game to better understand its uses. Alternative versions of the game will also be covered.
How to play Snakes and Ladders:
Snakes and Ladders is played on a grid board consisting of one hundred squares in a ten by ten grid in most versions. In some alternatives to the game, each square represents something; this will be covered in step three of this guide. The squares of the board are numbered. There are snakes or chutes and ladders on every board in varying numbers. Snakes or chutes send a player backwards on the board and ladders allow the player to climb higher on the playing board.
The player to start can be decided however, you wish. Youngest first is a common method of choosing or the roll of the die. To play the player rolls a die or in some versions spins an arrow to determine the number of space they move their game piece.
Pieces are moved from square 1 upwards to 100 which in the finish point. Any time a player lands on a ladder or snake they must either slide down in the case of the snake or climb up. Some game boards have other instructions written on squares. For instance, if the player lands on a square that says, “Go back two spaces”, the player must do so. Two players may occupy the same space at the same time.
Winning is achieved by reaching the 100th square first.
History of Snakes and Ladders:
As stated in the introduction to this how to guide Snakes and Ladders began around the 2nd century BC in India, likely as a religious tool. When the British encountered the game they took it home and began producing it as a childrens’ board game round 1892. The first American version was renamed Chutes and Ladders and published in 1943 by Milton Bradley.
Snakes and Ladders does not have to be used in a religious manner. It is commonly used in schools today to teach children math and counting skills in a fun way. Some college students have even adapted the game into a drinking game. For the sake of fun for adults, the drinking game is played as follows:
Anytime a player lands on a ladder they may give out drinks corresponding to the length of the ladder to their opponents. If the player lands on a snake, they must take drinks also calculated by the length of the snake. For example if the player landed on a ladder that rose him/her three rows he/she could give out three drinks. Losing players must drink the number of squares they lose by.
Snakes and Ladder variations:
Snakes and Ladder games vary by country some contain less squares, others more. Some have themes such as sledding where the snakes are sledding hills, other do not. In religious versions, squares represent virtues. The twelfth squares represent faith, the fifty-first reliability, fifty-seventh generosity, the seventy-sixth knowledge, and the seventy-eight asceticism. These squares usually contain ladders. The forty-first square contains disobedience, the forty-forth vanity, the forty-ninth vulgarity, the fifty-second theft, the fifty-eight lying, the sixty-second drunkenness (certainly not in the drinking game version), the sixty-ninth debt, the seventy-third murder, the eighty-forth rage, the ninety second greed, the ninety-fifth pride, and the ninety-ninth lust. These squares commonly have snakes or slides. Square one-hundred is “Salvation” or enlightenment in some cases.
Here is a brief list of the alternative names for Snakes and Ladders:
*Aur und Ab!
*Chutes and Ladders
*Fuga la circ
*Jungle Snakes & Ladders
*Käärmeet ja tikapuut
*Klättra och kana
*Ormar och stegar
*Ormspelet – Tärningsspel för ungdom och menige man
*Scale e serpenti
*Scale e serpenti
*Serpentes e Escadas
*Serpents et Echelles
*Serpientes y Escaleras
*Sobe e Desce
*Torah Slides and Ladders
*Up and Down! The New Ladder Game
*Steps ‘n’ Chutes
*We i drabiny
As you can see the game is popular worldwide.
Like many older games, Snakes and Ladders can also now be played electronically on computers or hand held-devices. Travel versions also exist.
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