Game of the Goose

The oldest spiral Game of Life we know, Mehen, was reported found in Egyptian Old Kingdom graves dating as far back as 5000 BP. This form of game seems to have spread over Europe in the 16th century. Spiral games of life seem to have in common that they have 63 (7 times 9) fields, obstacles and surprises are placed at 6, 19, 31, 42, 52 and 58, and the spiral goes inward counter-clockwise, mirroring the possible dangers, coincidences, happy occasions, progress, hitches and certain death affecting human life.

The rules of this version of Game of the Goose have been changed to get rid of limiting beliefs about our capacity to work together. The game is free. If you wish to facilitate it in your local context, feel free to do so. For boards you can try toy companies like Ravensburger, Selecta or Jumbo International.

  • Get a bunch of “rewards” (like sweets, can be “bio” type like chunks of carrots).
  • Set up tables with one board and one set of (changed) rules each. And chairs of course.
  • Make teams around boards.
  • Give all players at least 5 “rewards”.

The objective given to teams clearly states the whole team needs to get to the end of the obstacle course. So far nearly no teams figured it out and were playing with the “known” individual rules. Facilitators may perhaps need to introduce the changed rules with respect to game timing and team energy pressures. Around ten minutes in the game I use sentences like “which rules are you using?”


The team conquering all obstacles and reaching the target field 63 exactly with all pawns of all players, has won. If all players are in, the rewards paid during the game are divvied up between the players.

Resources & start condition

  • Every player receives a budget of 5 rewards.
  • All pawns of a team are placed before field 1, for that is life's order.

General rules

  • The youngest team member may begin.
  • In clockwise turn the dice are thrown by the players. Players move a pawn as many fields on the game board as the total number on the dice.
  • A pawn may not be placed on a field already taken by another pawn.

Exceptional rules

  • If a player throws 5 and 4 in his or her first throw, a pawn may be moved to field 53 immediately.
  • If a first throw is 2 and 6, a pawn can be chosen to move to 26 immediately.

Operational rules

6 Bridge Payment of 5 rewards gets your pawn across and advances you to field 12. Without payment you are using a toll free bridge, the long road. Pass over a turn.
19 Inn 5 rewards must be paid for your keep, or you collapse and need to recoup for two turns.
31 Well This costs you all your rewards and you’ll have to wait until someone comes to rescue you. And of course, if that happens your saviour drops in the well.
42 Labyrinth Pay 5 rewards and go back to number 37.
52 Prison Wait until one of your accomplices frees you. Alas, your mate is apprehended whilst in the act of freeing you. He now goes to prison instead.
58 Death Start anew, at Number 1.

Overall, has it been fun? What did you like, or not like? Where did your team struggle most? Would you prefer these changed rules? If so, would you prefer them even if there were no competition between the teams? If your team got all of its players “home” and you divvied up the rewards, how did you divvy them?