Played for more than 1200 years

new ludo board

4 colours: red, yellow, blue and green, 4 tokens, one dice. Played for more than 1200 years. Do you already know what I am talking about? And what if I say Ludo, Pachisi, Parcheesi, Ludu, Chińczyk, Parchís!?

Probably everybody knows the game, or at least they saw it somewhere. If you’re one of those that don’t know anything about it, it’s a board game, played by two to four players, and the objective is to take all your tokens (of your colour) to the centre of the board.


What are the rules?

Yes, I know the phrase “Why don’t we play first testing the game without anyone winning? But I need to explain how it works at least a little bit, or else you won’t be able to explain it to your friends!


The board

It’s a square with a pattern in the shape of a cross on it, where each line of the cross consisting of three columns of six or eight squares (it depends on the board, but the game is the same). The column in the centre of each side has one of the colours of the game, and represents a player’s home columns.

The middle of the cross forms a large square which is the ‘home’ area and which is divided into 4 home triangles, one of each colour. At each corner, separate to the main circuit are coloured circles (or squares) where the pieces are placed to begin.


Let’s play!

First of all, choose a colour! Each player starts with four pieces of that colour in the starting circle of the corresponding colour, and he/she will need to roll a six with the dice to put one of the tokens outside the circle and start playing. Always take turns in a clockwise order and the player that gets the highest throw of the dice starts. The same happens with all four pieces, they need to race around the board until they arrive to the player’s home column, where the token races up the column to the finish square.

Is it going to be easy to win? No! Throughout the game you have difficulties. If you have the four tokens racing and you roll a 6 with the dice, you get another turn. If a player has two tokens on the same square, these tokens form a block where no other player’s pieces can pass through. What’s more, if your token lands on a piece of a different colour, your token will return to your starting circle.



Who wins?

The first player to bring all their tokens to the finish square wins the game. To get the tokens to the end the player needs to roll the exact number on the dice. As I mentioned at the beginning, this game has not always been this way. It originated in India where it was played by various Mughal emperors at cafes and homes with cross-shaped board, made out of cloth and dice made of cowrie-shells, and later it arrived to other countries and the rules and the number of player varied from country to country.  Now the board is usually made of wood, but the “cheap” versions, made of plastic, also exist.

Names are different depending on the country. Germans call it “Mensch ärgere dich nicht” which translates into English as “Man, don’t get irritated”, and has equivalent names in Dutch, Czech and Slovak.  In England the game was introduced at the end of the 19th century, where the name changed to Ludo and the rules were easier. For example, in India, Spain, Denmark and some parts of Africa the board game has some safe squares marked with another colour or symbol where the pieces cannot be captured or landed and the player doesn’t have to return to the start square. Also, some boards have in their columns 8 squares instead of 6.

Among other rules, that change between the countries or houses, we can find that instead of rolling a 6 to start racing a token, you can roll a 1 or a 5, and sometimes you are allowed to roll the dice three times. Also, when two tokens of different colours are in the same square, both of them, not just the last one that arrives there, return to the home square.

Are you are a big family/ group of friends? You have the opportunity to get a board game with six colours or play the game in pairs! And if you prefer a fast game, why not try playing with two dice?


From my personal experience, I really like this game, because you can play with everybody regardless of age (my grandma explained to me how to play) and it’s very funny because you may be winning and suddenly losing what captures all your attention! I remember one day I was playing with my friends and we forgot to take the pizzas from the oven, be careful with this “dangerous” game!

And don’t forget, in this game you don’t need to be very strategic, it’s just a game of chance! How lucky are you?


Posted by PL


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