Game of the Goose is first known to have come from the Grand Duke of Florence in Italy, Francesco dei Medici, from 1574 to 1587
(Aleff, 2011). The Grand Duke sent a copy of the game to King Philip II in Spain, where the game gained instantaneous popularity in the court and spread to various other parts of Europe.
The Game of the Goose first reached England in about 1597, when the hedge designs of the game experienced increasing popularity in the social circles of the European gentry. However, instead of the goose’s spiral on the paper, actual labyrinths would be laid out, such as the famous maze of Hampton Court.
In the traditional version of the game, each player had one counter each, which made it a rather slow-paced game, contrary to the lively race of teams it evolved into at later stages.
You can judge the Game of the Goose’s popularity by the number of editions and variations it has had over the centuries. In fact, if you add up the printed copies of this game through the ages, the circulation would certainly exceed the circulation figure of any other board game. The Museum of the University of Pennsylvania (1895 inventory), has about 146 editions of the game in several languages. However, that’s just one museum with many others like it. Most of the editions of the board game are highly dramatic and have artistic designs reflecting different cultures of the time. Almost all the editions had illustrations of opera scenes, cartoons, sports, toys and other things that had little to do with the game itself. Nonetheless, all the editions did have one thing in common; the “special fields” in the game always had the same names and pictures. Also, a few fields in the game were reserved with goose illustrations, which also remained the same in all.
Structure of the Game
The board of the Game of the Goose has a pattern of spirals constituting 63 fields from outside to inside. Some fields have challenging hazards for players who land on them, while some have extra benefits or bonuses.
Things You’ll Need
For playing the game, you need:
- Printing supplies (large sheet/board)
- Pair of dice
- 1 counter per person
The printable board for the Game of the Goose has been made available for free by the Modar University. You can access the page here. Since it’s a PDF file, you need to have Adobe Reader installed on your computer.
Rules of the Game
The game is easy to learn for people of all age groups. Over time, the game had various obstacles introduced, but finding out the creative strategies needed to overcome them makes the game all the more fun.
You need two or more players. First, all the payers select distinct colors of counter pieces. Each player gets to roll both the dice, and the one with the highest roll gets to play first. All the game pieces must be placed outside the first field at the beginning of the game. The game must move clockwise, with the objective of travelling along the spiral, starting from the first field and ending at the 63rd. Whoever reaches the 63rd field first wins. Each player rolls both the dice on his turn and advances along the spiral by the exact number of fields as the sum of both the dice. The player has to deal with either the hazard or bonus of the field he lands on.
The game doesn’t demand any particular number to enter a particular field, rather you keep rolling and continue moving to whichever number comes. Two players’ pieces cannot occupy a single field simultaneously. If you are going to land on a particular field with an existing piece, stay on the field you are at and move only after the field has been vacated.
If a player lands on a field with the goose’s illustration, their move is automatically doubled, which means, they advance along the spiral to double the sum of the dice they just rolled. If that coincidentally puts the player on another goose field, they get a double-move again.
Each player must arrive on the 63rd field by the exact count of dice, instead of the overthrowing the needed number. In fact, if you do overthrow the needed number, advance into the 63rd field, and move backwards to the surplus number of counts. If that puts you in a goose field, you must double the backward moves.
- Field 6 - The Bridge: Hop directly to field 12 if you land on field 6.
- Field 19 - The Inn: You lose one turn on account of being sleepy due to drinking and good food.
- Field 31 - The Well: You lose two turns since you fell in the well.
- Field 42 - The Maze: You go back to field 30 since you get lost in the maze.
- Field 52 - The Prison: You stay on this field until a passerby (another player) lands there and you move to that particular player’s last field (in short, you swap places with him).
- Field 58 - Death: Your goose has been cooked. Go back to Field 1 and start over.
Recovered Sciences. (2011). The Royal Game of the Goose. Retrieved from: https://www.recoveredscience.com/gooserules.htm
Modar University. The Game of the Goose. Retrieved from: https://modaruniversity.org/goose-game-board.pdf
Image credit: Maison Celeste