Snakes and Ladders originated in India
Snakes and Ladders originated in India as part of a family of dice board games, that included Gyan chauper and pachisi (present-day Ludo and Parcheesi).
Snakes and Ladders is an ancient Indian board game regarded today as a worldwide classic. It is played between two or more players on a gameboard having numbered, gridded squares.
A number of “ladders” and “snakes” are pictured on the board, each connecting two specific board squares. The object of the game is to navigate one’s game piece, according to die rolls, from the start (bottom square) to the finish (top square), helped or hindered by ladders and snakes respectively. The historic version had root in morality lessons, where a player’s progression up the board represented a life journey complicated by virtues (ladders) and vices (snakes).
Gameplay of Snakes and Ladders
Each player starts with a token on the starting square (usually the “1” grid square in the bottom left corner, or simply, the imaginary space beside the “1” grid square) and takes turns to roll a single die to move the token by the number of squares indicated by the die roll. Tokens follow a fixed route marked on the gameboard which usually follows a boustrophedon (ox-plow) track from the bottom to the top of the playing area, passing once through every square. If, on completion of a move, a player’s token lands on the lower-numbered end of a “ladder”, the player moves the token up to the ladder’s higher-numbered square. If the player lands on the higher-numbered square of a “snake” (or chute), the token must be moved down to the snake’s lower-numbered square.
If a player rolls a 6, the player may, after moving, immediately take another turn; otherwise play passes to the next player in turn. If a player rolls three consecutive 6s, the player must return to the starting square (grid “1”) and may not move again until rolling another 6. The player who is first to bring their token to the last square of the track is the winner.
A variation exists where a player must roll the exact number to reach the final square (hence winning). Depending on the particular variation, if the roll of the die is too large the token remains in place.