Snakes and Ladders Review

If you are looking for a simple party game that is easy to learn and can be played with a decently sized group while everyone is too engaged in unrelated conversation to play anything more complicated than Go Fish, then look no farther, because snakes and ladders is your game.

How It’s played:

The board is a checkerboard layout with any where from 31 to about a 100 spares on it. Players advance in an “S” pattern, continually snaking back and forth across the rows. Each player rolls a die and advances that number of spaces. If the space the player lands on is a ladder, they advance up the ladder, skipping one or two, to practically all the row on the board. If the space is occupied by a snake (or shoot in some versions), the player slides back down to the other end of the snake back an equally varying number of spaces.

What It’s Good For:

This game is easy to set up since all you really have to do is take it out of the box and pick pieces, so it can easily be played over and over without much hassle. Its outcome is determined purely by luck and the volatility of the game can be an excellent icebreaker. When someone bringing up the rear suddenly is rocketed to the top among a group of enthusiasts, cheers will abound. If the leader is sent back to the beginning the reaction of your more competitive friends alone makes the price of the game worth while. It’s good, simple, lighthearted fun.

What It’s Not:

If you are a strategist who thrives on calculations and out-thinking your opponent, this is the single most infuriating game that will ever be your misfortune to encounter. Your football obsessed friend who lives on beef and protein shakes will leave you at the bottom of the board fifty percent of the time and no matter how much you scheme and strategize, you can never improve those odds. The blonde cheerleader who thinks Africa is a country will sometimes beat you. These people are also quite likely to gloat about it in spite of the game being purely one of luck.

It is the fate of everyone to face such defeats, but when there is no chance to change the outcome from the start, it is much less interesting for the more competitive and intellectual crowd.

Whether this is a good game or not depends on your personality and your purpose.