Pachisi (Ludo) Rules, Route and Layout

The typical Pachisi playing board has four columns set out in a cruciform (cross) around a square in the centre. Each arm of the cruciform has three rows of eight squares with three squares marked with an X to denote that the square is a safe square (An opponent cannot land on you and knock you off if you are on a safe square). Ludo is the Western version of the game usually without the X-marked safe squares and only six squares to a row. The typical position of the safe squares are one each on each outer row of each arm about four squares along and one on the centre row part way down. Some boards have the third X-marked square at the top of the centre row on the outer rim. Considering that your opponents do not move down your centre row to home, having a safe square part way down does not seam logical to me unless the square had another purpose as well.

Therefore, on this printable version, the centre row X-marked square is at the top on the outer perimeter. (Rosettes are used instead of X’s on this game board.) Also, due to the lack of available space to print all eight squares of each row in each arm, I have had to shorten to six. The colouring is typical of the Western version. I have, however, tried to give it the Indian cultural feel, and rightly so; not many people are aware that most ancient games probably originated from India.

The rules for this version I have taken from the book: Games – Discover and play 5 famous ancient games, by Dr Irvine Finkel and published by The British Museum. The game is for two to four players and you will need four sets of four playing pieces that are distinguishable from each other. Four sets of coins for example. You could use four copper coloured coins with heads for one player and four with tails for another, and the same for the other two players with silver coloured coins. Better still, if you are up for a bit of craftwork, you can print out the provided counters, cut out and stick on card.

You will also need five objects that can be used as binary dice like two sided lolly pop sticks with one side patterned with a marker to count as the pips of the dice, or four coins whereby heads will count as the pips. It will be more authentic if you can obtain cowrie shells from a seaside shell shop – try saying that fast. The teeth of the shells count as the pips of the dice. Alternatively you can print out the spinner dice from this pdf or use a six sided dice from another game. This does prove easier but detracts from the authenticity that comes with playing the game.


0 teeth/heads/marked side of stick upwards = 25.

1 teeth/heads/marked side of stick upwards = 1.

2 teeth/heads/marked side of stick upwards = 2.

3 teeth/heads/marked side of stick upwards = 3.

4 teeth/heads/marked side of stick upwards = 4.

5 teeth/heads/marked side of stick upwards = 5.

Using a six sided cube dice, count a 6 as the zero equaling 25.

When four people are playing, they can either play as individuals or as two man teams. If two people are playing, they can either field eight pieces working two arms each, or as two individual players with just four pieces each.

The route for each player is from the centre, home square. Travel down the central row of their arm colour and head counter clockwise around the perimeter of the board. On returning to their coloured row of their arm, they travel back down to home. Once on their central row during the  return journey, an exact number is needed for that piece to reach home and bear off.

  1. The highest throw goes first and throws again. You enter a piece in the central square and move it down the middle of your arm the number of squares that you scored.
  1. You keep throwing the dice till you get a score of 1, 2, 3 or 4, adding up the total score as you go. Then you can use the total on one move, or split it between pieces.
  1. Throws of 5 and 25 are very useful. You either get to move a piece an extra point, or enter

      another pieces at the beginning. You also throw again.

4.    However, three successive throws of 5 or 25 means that you lose the whole throw.

5.    You can ignore a throw if you wish. (Not clear as to why, in all other games, all moves must be

       made if possible.)

6.    If your piece lands on a square inhabited by an opponent’s piece, you send that piece back to   

       the beginning. This also gives you an extra throw.

7.   Two of a player’s pieces can be doubled on one square. They move together and cannot be

      passed by a single piece.

8.   Team players may each place one of their pieces on the same square. These double pieces

      cannot be passed by a single opponent, but can by two pieces moving together.

9.  Once round the perimeter a returning piece can only enter the home square with an exact       

     throw. If a 1 is needed, that can also come from a throw of 5 or 25.

Pachisis (Ludo) Full Board Route
Pachisi (Ludo) Route