Ludo: A Universal Board Game with Enduring Appeal
There’s something special about playing board games that are universally recognized, regardless of where you are in the world. It’s like a secret code that connects people from different cultures and backgrounds through the simple joy of gameplay. There’s no need for translation or explanation – just roll the dice and start playing. But it’s not just about the recognition factor. Playing games that are well-known in a particular region can also be a great way to learn about local culture and traditions. Take for example, Ludo.
Me and Ludo go waayyyy back. Oh the memories I have that are associated with this board game, phew! But more on this later.
What is Ludo?
Ludo is believed to have originated in India in the 6th century. The game is played using a board with four colored sections and dice, and is often played in groups or with family and friends of all ages, from 2 to 4 players. The game is simple to learn, but requires skill and strategy to win. Players take turns rolling the dice and moving their game pieces around the board, with the objective of moving all of their pieces into their home base before their opponents do.
The game was initially called Pachisi and was played by members of the Indian royalty. Like various other places in the world, Ludo became a part of the cultural heritage in Nigeria, my father’s native land, and has been for several generations. capturing the hearts of both young and old. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see families and friends gathered around a board, rolling the dice and cheering each other on. And the game has even evolved to have regional variations. For example, in some parts of the country, the board has six colored sections instead of four, making the gameplay more challenging and exciting.
As of 2022, Nigeria holds a Ludo championship that brings passionate fans of the game together.
Me and Ludo
When I think of Ludo, I’m transported back to my parents’ humble beginnings. We had an ancient version of the game stored in the cramped back room of our family’s small grocery store, probably from the late ’90s. The board was set in a discolored frame of yellow-painted wood, adorned with four seemingly random images of African couples. But my favorite part of the game was the little plastic multi-colored semi-translucent game pieces. Each player had their assigned color. I’m sure the game and its pieces are long gone now, but the memories it evokes are unforgettable. Ludo is one of those games that never gets old, unless you play it a million times like we did because we were bored out of our minds in the back office. It became a go-to flat surface for holding random heavy items. So, maybe I associate Ludo less with actual gameplay and more with our unique storage solutions. But make no mistake, the novelty of the game holds up in the long-term—it’s probably one of the best super simple fun games you’ll ever play. Just remember to play it in moderation.
Fun Alternatives to Ludo
Are you a fan of Ludo yet? Well there are several board games that are similar to Ludo in terms of gameplay and mechanics. Here are three examples:
Originating in India, Parcheesi is a classic race game that involves players rolling dice to move their pieces around the board. The objective is to be the first to move all of your pieces into your home base, just like Ludo. The game involves strategy and luck.
Did you know Parcheesi was actually introduced in the United States by the Parker Brothers in the early 1900s, and Sorry! followed suit in the 1930s. Both games quickly became popular staples in households across the country. Trouble, on the other hand, came onto the scene in the ’60s, bringing a unique twist on traditional dice-rolling gameplay.
Sorry! is a popular board game that is similar to Ludo in that it is a race game. Players move their game pieces around the board by drawing cards and following the instructions on them. The objective is to be the first player to move all of your pieces into your home base. This game is easy to learn and can be played with up to four players.
Trouble is a board game that is similar to Ludo in that it is a race game. Players move their game pieces around the board by popping a plastic dome in the center of the board that contains dice. The objective is to be the first player to move all of your pieces around the board and into your home base. Another game that can be played with up to four players.
(*Record Scratch* Does anyone else find the names of some board games oddly comical?! Sometimes I can’t resist the play on words: “Sorry, but my Parcheesi went through some Trouble and now I’m in Ludo with the wrong crowd.” It can’t just be me… Maybe it is.)
All three of these board games are similar to Ludo in terms of gameplay and mechanics, and they all involve racing around a board to get all of your game pieces into your home base before your opponents do. Ready to pick up a copy? You can check out the prices here (Ludo), here (Parcheesi), here (Sorry!) and here (Trouble). Now it’s your turn: What’s your favorite Ludo-esque board game?
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