Game of the Month: The Game of Goose

by Dagonell the Juggler

The game was invented for Francesco de Medici, who gave it to Phillip II of Spain. Any number of players may participate, however more than six tends to be impractical. It is strictly a game of chance and children can compete on an equal basis with adults.

The board is a spiral race course with both reward and penalty squares. Players advance by rolling dice and moving their marker that number of spaces. First player to arrive at the center, square sixty-three (63), by exact count wins. If the final dice roll is too high, the player must move his piece forward to the last square and then backwards until the full count is reached.

Only one player may occupy any space on the board. If you end your turn on a square occupied by an opponent, that player goes back to the square you started your turn from.

Squares five (5), nine (9), fourteen (14), eighteen (18), twenty-three (23), twenty-seven (27), thirty-two (32), thirty-six (36), forty-one (41), forty-five (45), fifty (50), fifty-four (54) and fifty-nine (59) have a goose on them. If you land on one of these squares, you again move the number of spaces on your die roll, in the direction you are currently moving. The sole exception to this rule is a nine on the opening move which would send the player straight to the finish. On an initial roll of six and three, the player advances to square twenty-six (26). On an initial roll of four and five, the player advances to square fifty-three (53). The squares have no special significance at any other time. A roll of nine at any other time in the game is played normally.

There are several other squares with additional features. Square six (6) is The Bridge and the player immediately advances to square twelve (12). Square forty-two (42) is The Maze and the player is sent back to square thirty (30). Square nineteen (19) is the The Tavern and the player loses two turns. Square thirty-one (31) is The Well. A player landing there must remain until another player lands on that square. The second player then remains there while the first player returns to the square the second player started that turn from. Square fifty-two (52) is The Prison which is played exactly the same as The Well. Square fifty-eight (58) is Death and the player starts over.

Start
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
GOOSE
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
GOOSE
 
GOOSE
 
37
 
38
 
39
 
40
 
GOOSE
 
THE
MAZE
10
 
35
 
43
 
11
 
34
 
DEATH
 
59
 
60
 
44
 
12
 
33
 
GOOSE
 
61
 
GOOSE
 
13
 
GOOSE
 
56
 
62
 
46
 
GOOSE
 
THE
WELL
55
 
Finish
 
47
 
15
 
30
 
GOOSE
 
48
 
16
 
29
 
  4 & 5  
 
THE
PRISON
51
 
GOOSE
 
49
 
17
 
28
 
GOOSE
 
GOOSE
 
  3 & 6  
 
25
 
24
 
GOOSE
 
22
 
21
 
    20    
 
THE
TAVERN

ADULT VARIATION: Goose can easily be converted into a gambling game. All players agree on whether to start with a predetermined amount of money. Players place a coin on the final square whenever they land on The Bridge, The Tavern, The Well, The Maze, The Prison, or Death. Whenever a player lands on another player and sends them back, the backwards moving player places a coin on the final square. If a player runs out of money, they're out of the game. First player to reach the final square collects the kitty.

CHILDREN'S VARIATION: With a little advance preparation, Goose can also be made into a "live" game for children. You will need: a roll of duct tape to lay out the pathway; a pair of large dice made with 1/2 gallon milk cartons, a sharp knife, tape, contact paper and a magic marker; an empty tankard; a sand bucket; toy manacles made of paper cuffs and paper clip chains; and sixty-four sheets of typing paper. On ten sheets of paper, draw the following: a start sign; a bridge; two dice showing three and six; two dice showing four and five; a tavern sign; a well; a maze; a prisoner's ball and shackle; a skull and cross bones; and an end sign. On twelve sheets of paper, draw a goose. Forty-two sheets are left blank or may be drawn decoratively. On a bare floor, lay out the game squares as shown in the illustration. Place the tankard on The Tavern, the bucket on The Well, and the manacles on The Prison. The children take turns rolling the dice and advancing along the path as if they were the pieces on the board. Play the game as normally. Whenever a player lands on a square with a prop, they must hold that prop for as long as they occupy that square. A referee will be required to keep track of whose turn it is and retrieve dice that have rolled out of reach.