Games You Can Make At Home – Snakes and Ladders

 

Where Did The Game Come From?

Well, we’re going to make a version of Snakes and Ladders. For anyone who doesn’t know, Snakes and Ladders is originally an Ancient Indian game, played entirely by luck. Historically it had its roots in morality; your progress up the board represented a life journey with the complications of virtue (ladders) and vice (snakes). Nowadays it is most commonly played as a simple race and counting game for younger children.

What Will You Need?

  • A large A3 or similar sized pad of paper (in which you can store all the games you make)
  • A ruler, at least 30cm in length
  • A pencil (I recommend a mechanical one)
  • Coloured pens/pencils (optional)
  • Time – about half an hour
  • Plenty of space – either a clear table or big wooden floor

The Process:

  1. The very important first step is deciding what size you want your squares to be, and how many squares there will be on the board. I made two boards; one with 100 squares, and one with only 25, these were, respectively, 10×10 and 5×5 grids. For my 100 square board I settled on a size of 5x5cm squares.
  2. Once you’ve chose the number of squares you want, and the size they will be, you simply lay down your ruler and (in pencil) measure out the total length of all the squares; i.e. 5 x 10 = 50cm x 50cm for the 100 square grid. Once you’ve measured out the length, go back down the ruler and mark off each 5cm (or whatever your chosen size of square is) to get the intervals for where your squares will be. Repeat this on all four sides trying to keep your lines as square to each other as possible.
  3. When completed you should have a square with 5cm marks down all four sides. Next you just join them up, go along either horizontally or vertically joining the top and bottom, or left and right lines together. Then repeat the way you didn’t go first to end up with a nice grid.
  4. At this point you should have a nice, neat pencil grid in front of you. My next step would be to number the squares, in the top right hand corner, reasonably small, but big enough to be easily read.

We’re now almost finished with the first stage of the game! The last thing to do is to draw on your snakes and your ladders, you should aim to have these fairly evenly distributed across the board, their lengths are totally up to you, but I would advise making all of them different lengths, and including at least one pretty long ladder, as well as a nasty snake quite close to the end of the game, if you’re feeling mean.

*NOTE! Everything up to this point should be done in pencil, as mistakes are easy to make, but hard to correct if the work was done in pen.*

Making It Colourful!

Here’s where your coloured pens/pencils come in. When I did it I went over all the grid lines and numbers with my black pen and then proceeded to colour in the ladders and snakes giving them black outlines, but more colourful insides. You should also feel totally free to doodle on the blank paper outside of the grid, this is your project and you’re completely free to make it complicated or simple – as you choose!

If you’ve got little kids you could also draw and number the grids yourself, going over them in black pen, and then give it to your kid (or make multiple copies if you have more than one child) and let them draw on their own snakes and ladders.

Finishing Up:

My last action was to go over the grid with a rubber in the places where I could still see the pencil marks – this is totally optional, if it doesn’t bother you to see the pencil marks, then by all means, leave them there.

The Finished Product:

As you can see, my final products were pretty simple, but you can do whatever you want with yours! All you need now is a standard 6-sided die and a few generic coloured playing pieces and you’re ready to roll!

One Last Note…

These posts are entirely non-profit, the idea behind them being to suggest creative ways that bring assorted games into the house if you don’t have the money/space to buy beautiful wooden, or printed copies. The games I intend to write about are all old and in public domain.

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On The Twelfth Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me…

Mastermind! And acted very suspiciously all day….

The Rules:

This game is very simple. One player makes a code using the coloured pegs provided and then hides it whilst the other player looks away/puts their face in a cushion. The second player then has to use the remaining coloured pegs to try and guess the code. The first player indicates when they are right or wrong using white and red pegs. The second player has to crack the code before they run out of lines. We already wrote a full review post of this game here if you want to read more about it.

For Christmas?

Definitely! This game is a fun quickie for two players, and fantastic for keeping the most rambunctious children occupied for a little while if you’re a family that been blessed with children with boundless energy! Although a two player game doesn’t sound the best for Christmas, when there’s usually vastly more than two people around it’s actually fantastic. Both for smaller families and big ones. It’s easy to make a Mastermind tournament if you have lots of interested people or, if there’s only a few of you it’s ideal for having a few quiet moments. It’ll also keep Aunt Jean happy – she’s not strong with tactical games, but if only two people are playing it at least there should be someone left to hear about her newest animal acquisition!

Happy Twelfth Day of Christmas! This brings us to the end of the Christmas period, and the end of this series of posts – at least until next year!

On The Eleventh Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me…

Blokus – and after spending the day with my father told me I was a chip off the ol’ block!

The Rules:

Blokus is a great game that relies on simple rules. Each player chooses a colour and takes all the tiles of that colour. Then, starting with the oldest player they place one tile, starting from the corner nearest where they’re sitting. You can place whichever tile you like but your tiles must all be connected by the points of the corners.

For Christmas?

Yes! I first played this game at Christmas and it’s good fun. It’s not particularly competitive, which makes for a relaxed game. On top of that it’s also very easy to grasp how to play. It’s such a straightforward game that Aunt Jean might even win at it, if she can stop talking about her dogs long enough to focus.

Happy Eleventh Day of Christmas! We’re nearly at the end of the Twelve Games of Christmas now and hopefully you’re  all !

On The Tenth Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me…

Sphinx! And asked if I knew the answer to the riddle…

The Rules:

Sphinx is a great kids game which takes half an hour or less to play. Each player starts on the same square in the maze and moves around by rolling three dice. There are two symbols on the board, one is a little coloured card, called a Sphinx card, the other is a mummy hand. The Sphinx card allows you to collect a card of that colour from the stack next to the board, you need these to win the game. The mummy hand allows you to look at the colour of the base of one of the six Sphinxes on the board. There are three Sphinxes in the center of the board, guarding the treasure, there are also three Sphinxes down the right-hand side of the board. Each of these has a different colour on their base. To win the game a player must advance to the middle of the maze and present the correct coloured Sphinx cards in the correct order to reach the treasure. There is a double snake symbol on one of the dice. this means that the player who rolled that symbol must swap one of the Sphinxes in the center of the board with one on the side. In doing this the pattern of colours in the center also changes. The game is won when a player correctly guesses the colour pattern of the center of the board with the correct Sphinx cards.

For Christmas?

Yup! It’s a slightly more challenging game for kids who are a little older. It’s a great introduction to strategy and memory games and can be used as a learning point for the myth and history of the Sphinx (if you’re into that kind of stuff). It could also be an excellent opportunity for the kids to teach Aunt Jean something, as we all know that her interest into history doesn’t extend further than the pedigree of her favourite dog!

Happy Tenth Day of Christmas, if you’re being bored by these posts, just hang on for two more days, and then everything goes back to normal on the blog!

On The Ninth Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me…

Connect 4, and proceeded to bore me, explaining how if he started first he could always win…

The Rules:

Connect 4 is a simple tactical game; two players take it in turns to drop their coloured counters down columns on an empty grid in an attempt to make a line of four of their colour, either vertically, horizontally or diagonally, whilst preventing their opponent from making one first. The first player to make a line immediately wins. If both players run out of counters and no one has a line the game is a draw.

For Christmas?

I think it’s a good quick game for when you need five minutes to chill away from the masses, or for when you need your kids to stop running around for a few minutes so that you can get food out of the oven without falling over them. You could also get Aunt Jean to play it, which would keep her out of the way for a few minutes when you’re busy, because she’s really not as helpful in the kitchen as she thinks she is!

Happy Ninth Day of Christmas everyone! If you haven’t played any games yet, you’re not doing Christmas right!

On The Seventh Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me…

Uno, and said in hushed tones that it’s the only child-friendly way of playing Blackjack early in the day…

The Rules:

The deck of cards is shuffled, and seven cards are dealt to each player, the remaining cards are placed face-down in the middle of the table and the top one turned over and placed next to it. Generally the youngest player begins and they start by putting a card on top of the face-up one that matches either the colour or the number of the card. If they aren’t able to do this, but they hold a wild card, they can play that instead and change the colour of the cards that are being played. There are a few other cards that change the direction of play and similar things, but those can mostly only be played when they match the colour. The objective of the game is to play all of your cards. If you are unable to play a card on your turn you must pick one up from the face-down pile and add it to your hand. When you only have one card left you have to say “UNO!!” as loudly as possible before you can put it down. If you play your last card without proclaiming Uno, you must draw new cards and continue playing as a punishment.

For Christmas?

Yes! Definitely! This game is great for large or small groups of players, and is all-ages inclusive. Aunt Jean could almost definitely grasp this one without too much trouble, and she might not even complain about it! On top of that, it’s a speedy play, so a good time filler.

Happy Seventh Day of Christmas! Keep the cheer and food flowing!

On The Sixth Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me…

Das Kasperlspiel, and walked around like a puppet for the rest of the day.

The Rules:

This game is pretty straightforward; to play you just claim one Harlequin movable card and arrange its arms and legs into a starting position. Then shuffle the Harlequin cards and deal them out into three piles, which should then be turned face up. The youngest player begins and tries to make their Harlequin match one of the cards they can see by moving only one arm or leg one position. If you succeed in matching one of the images on your turn you get to claim that card from the top of the pile. If you don’t manage to match one of the cards it is the next players turn. The highest number of cards that any player can in one turn is two, and this is only possible if a players Harlequin matches a card that’s already face-up when their turn begins. They are then allowed to claim that card before moving their Harlequin to try and claim another. The game ends when all the cards have been claimed and the player with the most cards wins. If two players are tied for the most cards then the points (shown in a small coloured circle on each card) are added up and the player with the highest number of points wins.

For Christmas?

Maybe… To be honest, although I like this game, I also struggle with it a bit. It requires quite a lot more concentration than games from our previous posts of this years Twelve Games series to consider the most logical/efficient way of moving your Harlequin. On top of that, Aunt Jean definitely wouldn’t be able to cope with it, it’s likely she’d find it boring and too fiddly. I would recommend it to families who like serious, logical games. Not because it’s difficult, but simply because you have to concentrate that little bit harder on it.

Happy Sixth Day of Christmas! It’s around this time that people are starting to have to go back to work and there’s less time for games, but if you’ve got kids, or lots of holiday days, keep the games flowing!