Treehouse Snakes and Ladders

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Under development

This game is currently under development, in the Playtesting stage. Feedback is strongly encouraged! Feel free to give comments on game design or structure on the talk page.

Treehouse Snakes and Ladders
Bryan Stout
Snakes & Ladders with pyramids, real decisions, and lots of player interaction.
:Players Players: 2 - 5
:Time Length: Long
:Complexity Complexity: Simple
Trios per color: 1
Number of colors: 5
Pyramid trios:
Monochr. stashes:
Five-color sets: 1
- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -
A Snakes & Ladders game board; two dice, d6 or d8
Setup time: 2 min
Playing time: 15 min - 45 min
Strategy depth: Low
Random chance: High
Game mechanics: Roll and move, Stacking
Theme: Race
BGG Link:
Status: Playtesting (v), Year released: 2009
Created in 2009

This is a variation on Snakes and Ladders, using pyramids, for 2 to 5 players. It changes the no-decisions children's game to a game with many tactical decisions and much player interaction.

Equipment[edit | edit source]

A board for Snakes and Ladders, Chutes and Ladders, or any similar game. Similar games are those whose mechanic is roll-and-move, whose goal is a race to the goal space, and whose boards have some spaces that send you forward or backward along the board.

One Treehouse set.

Two dice. Traditional 6-sided dice are fine, but 8-sided dice are also good.

Setup[edit | edit source]

Set out the board. Each player picks a color for his piece and takes a pyramid of that color. All pyramids should be of the same size. Place all the pieces in the starting position, which for Snakes and Ladders is usually just outside the board beside the #1 space.

Choose the starting player by any acceptable means. Turns go clockwise around the board.

Play[edit | edit source]

The Turn[edit | edit source]

During your first turn, roll 1 die and move your piece the indicated number of spaces forward.

In every turn after the first, your turn consists of rolling both dice. One die roll is used to move your piece, and the other roll is used to move another player's piece. You may choose either die for your own piece, and may use the dice in any order. For example, if you roll 2 and 5, you may move your piece either 2 or 5 spaces -- the other roll being used for another player's piece -- and you may move your piece either first or second.

A piece cannot use a die roll if there is no room to use all of it. For example, if space 100 is the goal and a piece is on space 97, it cannot use any roll higher than 3. If you cannot use either roll on your piece, use both rolls on other players' pieces. If you cannot use either roll on others' pieces, use both on your own piece. If a roll cannot be used at all, ignore it.

You must use a die roll if possible, even if it is to your disadvantage. However, you don't have to use both rolls if the result of the first roll makes the second roll unusable. For example, in a 2-player game, your opponent is on space 97 and you are on 94, and you roll 3-5. You may move your piece 3 spaces (stacking on your opponent), making the 5 unusable; you do not have to move your piece 5 and your opponent 3 (making him win) in order to use both rolls.

Stacking and Movement[edit | edit source]

When a piece ends its move on an occupied space, it is placed on top of the occupant(s), making a stack.

Pieces in any position in a stack may be moved. When a particular piece is moved, any pieces above it are moved with it, and any pieces below it are left behind. Pieces moved together also travel on snakes or ladders together: as soon as the movement from the die is finished, the piece(s) moved follow any additional movement required by the space landed on, and stack on any pieces found in the new destination.

Tactics[edit | edit source]

The use of two dice for yourself and another player allows many tactical possibilities. For example:

  • Sorting. Obviously, you can use good moves for yourself and bad moves for your opponents.
  • Piggybacking. You can move your piece twice in your turn: once directly, and once indirectly by moving an opponent's piece that it's stacked on.
  • Dumping. You can move other pieces off of your piece before it is moved onto a ladder.

Special Spaces[edit | edit source]

If the board you are playing on has spaces that do other things besides moving you elsewhere, then decide ahead of time how those spaces will be done. For example, if the space says "Lose your next turn", possibilities include:

  • Place any piece that lands there on its side. No one may move that piece until its owner takes his next turn, which consists of placing it upright, without rolling any dice. A stack on that space is placed sideways at first, and if any piece is placed upright, the whole stack is.
  • Leave pieces on that space upright. Other players may move it off that space if they wish. If it is still on the space at the owner's next turn, he rolls only one die and uses it to move another piece if possible. On his next turn he may roll 2 dice and move his own piece.

Winning[edit | edit source]

The winner is the first player who gets their piece to the goal space. It can only be reached by an exact count of the die roll, or by a ladder leading to it. If a stack reaches the goal space, all players represented share the win.

Variations[edit | edit source]

Team Game. Use 2 pyramids per player, of adjacent sizes (small/medium or medium/large). You can even use all 3 of your pyramids, but it is not recommended for 4 or 5 players, as it makes the game long enough you all may end up helping each other just to get it over with.

For the Team Game, add these additional rules:

  • You don't have to enter all your pieces immediately.
  • In your turn, you may only move one of your pieces directly, unless no opposing piece is movable.
  • You can stack your pieces together, and move them together as a result.
  • In a stack, if a piece is completely covered -- e.g. a medium under a large -- it cannot be directly moved with a die roll. If you can't touch it, you can't move it.
  • You win by getting all your pieces to the goal space. When a piece makes it to the Goal, place it just off the board to wait for its teammate(s).