Snakes and Ladders
A simple game for kids? Not so the postal version....
Snakes and Ladders was adapted for postal play by Alan Parr.
These postal rules are based on those published by Alan in Hopscotch #135, March 1995,
with revisions following games in For Whom The Die Rolls, and further revisions after
playing it in Variable Pig and WIMM?.
- Any number of players may participate in a game of Snakes and Ladders.
Six to ten is ideal.
- Play takes place on a Snakes and Ladders board where the spaces are numbered
from 1 to 100. The structure and layout of the board may or may not correspond to
the conventional board, but the numbers will be in a logically coherent arrangement
and players will need to discover the exact arrangement for themselves.
- The positions and effects of snakes and ladders will usually obey some kind of rules.
For example, all spaces in a particular column might be the feet of ladders, and
might move the player by ten spaces each ladder. Similarly, mouths of snakes
might be those spaces whose digits add up to eight, and landing on these spaces
might send players back fifteen spaces. Terms such as 'up', 'down', 'forward',
'back', etc. may or may not be true in a directional sense, but they will be true
in a numerical sense. Alternatively, the shape of the board could determine the
end positions of snakes and ladders rather than a fixed number of spaces.
The GM may decide to give some information about his board at the start of the game.
- Each player starts off the board at space 0. Space 0 cannot be landed on thereafter
unless the GM states otherwise.
- The winner is the first player to end a turn on or beyond space 100. If more than
one player satisfies this condition in the same turn, the player who would have
travelled furthest past space 100 will be the winner. Ties for this honour will
result in a draw.
- Each turn players choose their own die throw (1 to 6) for their move. In the first
six turns players must use each number exactly once, similarly in the second six
turns, and so on. Players should make sure they keep a record of the die throws they use.
- Note that it is usual, but not mandatory to play the turns 5&6, 11&12 etc.
as double turns, as the number on the latter of these turns is automatic.
- With each set of orders players may nominate one space as a trapdoor. All spaces
which receive three or more nominations become trapdoors for the duration of the round.
- If there are eight players or less in the game, two or more votes will be
sufficient to activate trapdoors.
- In two-turn rounds each player may nominate a single trapdoor number.
This trapdoor nomination will apply to both turns in the round.
- Any player finishing a turn on a trapdoor will fall through to the number
below (assuming there is one). For example, on a conventional ten-column board
they would drop from 45 to 36. On a board arranged differently, 45 might be
above a different number.
- Trapdoors will take precedence over snakes and ladders.
- Should a player fall through a trapdoor find themselves at the head of a
snake or the base of a ladder, the snake or ladder will have its normal effect.
- A player may fall through more than one trapdoor if more than one is encountered
in the same turn.
- A player will not fall through the same trapdoor more than once in a turn.
Should they return to a trapdoor space they have already fallen through, the space
will be treated as a normal space.
- By default, there can be no trapdoors on the bottom row or above square 100.
The GM must state at the start of the game if either of these are possible.
Trapdoors above 100 might make it harder for anyone to win.
- If a player does not submit a trapdoor nomination, the space that their move
takes them to (prior to the use of any ladders, snakes or trapdoors) will be counted
as their trapdoor nomination for the round. For two-turn rounds the 'target' space for
their first move will be used as the trapdoor nomination for both turns.
- In the event of no move received (NMR) from a player, the referee will make the
lowest legal move. (Of course, if this takes the player to a ladder it won't look
like the lowest legal move.) A trapdoor will be nominated on the basis of this move as
- If a player submits the same die throw twice in a set of six turns, the player
will be treated as if they had failed to submit orders. However, any trapdoor
nomination submitted by the player will stand.
- The referee will not reveal the die throws or active trapdoors. Reports
will only show the spaces occupied by the players at the end of each round.
Note that whilst the location of a trapdoor should not be revealed, the GM may
wish to inform the players that one has opened, somewhere.
- Collusion between players is permitted.
- If the game is played using more than one board simultaneously,
then the aggregate positions are used to determine the winner. E.g. with three
boards coming 1st, 4th and 5th gives an aggregate 10 - lowest aggregate wins.