Snakes and Ladders

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Snakes and Ladders was invented in India, and intended to be used as religious propaganda, with the snakes representing "temptations" and the ladders representing virtues.

If you never played before, it's just a Roll and Move game, consisting of anywhere from 64 to 144 squares. Each player has their own unique pawn, and only moves their own. First player to land on the goal square wins. The twist: When a piece lands on the head of a snake, it follows the snake downward to the bottom of its tail, away from the goal square. When it lands on a ladder, it moves ahead to the top of that ladder.

There's not a lot else to say, other than that:

  1. It's an interesting case study in reskinning a game. (See, for example, this video, which covers some of the more notable reskins).
  2. It's almost the platonic ideal of a "bad" children's game; we're talking almost Monopoly levels of badness here.
  3. It's sold in the US under the name "Chutes and Ladders". It still sucks, though.
  4. It's possibly the oldest known example of Ameritrash.
Board Games
Classics: Backgammon - Chess - Go - Tafl - Tic-Tac-Toe
Ameritrash: Arkham Horror - Axis & Allies - Battleship - Betrayal at House on the Hill - Car Wars
Clue/Cluedo - Cosmic Encounter - Descent: Journeys in the Dark - Dungeon!
Firefly: The Game - HeroQuest - Monopoly - Snakes and Ladders - Risk - Talisman - Trivial Pursuit
Eurogames: Agricola - Carcassonne - Settlers of Catan - Small World - Stratego - Ticket to Ride
Pure Evil: Diplomacy - Dune (aka Rex: Final Days of an Empire) - Monopoly
Others: Icehouse - Shadow Hunters - Twilight Imperium