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Chutes and Snakes... Also Ladders...

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RGaffney's picture
Joined: 09/26/2011

Ok so there is a game that is often alluded to as an example of a bad game, called "Snakes and Ladders" (Chutes and Ladders in the US) You spin a wheel, and move that many spaces, and then either go down a chute or up a ladder until someone wins.

The game is entirely luck based because it's for tiny babies. Experienced gamers tend to hate it, but some designers will defend that it "is what it is" and it "works for it's demographic" (clearly)

I'm actually fond of the game. It's just that I don't think it was ever a competitive game, meant to be played by the rules. Instead its a brilliant sociological experiment that gives children their first opportunity to game the system.

I think it should say in the rulebook "Play with a child about 5 years old, explain the simple rules, and then proceed never to notice when anyone is on a chute or a ladder, let them point it out to you" Yaaaay, the brat wins, he is having fun, and based on how blatantly he cheats you know how much to save for therapy.


Some of you may also know that some mathematicians have "Fixed" the game, dubbing the new game "Adders and Ladders" wherein you do not roll dice, but choose to move any token 1 to 4 spaces, and whoever moves the last token over the goal wins.

"Adders" is the polar opposite of "Snakes/Chutes" it's a perfect information game, no luck involved. But theyhave in common that neither one is very fun. "Snakes" is a dice game, "Adders" is a long race of nothing, eventually reducing to a game of NIM (which has been solved)


I like the game though, and I still think there is hope for it. I've been messing around with these two games, and i came u with an idea of combining them such that:

There is still one token per player, you take turns spinning the wheel (a la "Snakes")
But, you have the opportunity from "Adders" to move any token forward or backward that number of spaces

First past the goal wins (not right at the goal, or the game would never end)


Is it just me, or would this make the game actually fun to play? Granted it's still not a eurogame, optimal moves exist. But at least in SnalAdders the optimal moves are different every time. I get to (at least once in a while) make interesting decisions about whether I want to hurt you, but not progress and allow other opponents to catch up, or help myself and mis a chance to stab my friend.

It also handles player elimination, because even if I give up on winning I can still have fun screwing with the person who sent me back on that giant anaconda.

I'm not sure about the spacing of the ladders and chutes on a standard board, or if there would often be a choice between 2 things that actually accomplished something (chute ladder wise) If the decisions are too easy, I have a way to complicate them.

Suppose you struck the move any token rule and instead made a move everyone rule. Then I have the choice to move myself forward as per normal, or move everyone forward what I rolled, or move everyone back (if moving myself forward would cause me to hit a chute)

Maybe add a little time limit to prevent AP and baby you got a stew going.

Whaddya think?

Joined: 05/27/2012
worth a second look

What if the ladders and chutes itself are movable tokens?

Thank you reminding me that even the simplest games are worth looking and developing. And they may be used as a part of a new construction.


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