Simulating Snakes and Ladders for Fun, Not Profit

A great many of you will remember the game of Snakes and Ladders from your youth. It’s a simple game, which one grows to realise involves absolutely no skill – it’s purely the luck of the dice. [Alex Laratro] noticed that without player decisions to effect the outcome, the game was thus a prime candidate for simulation. 

[Alex] wanted to dive into the question of “Who is winning a game of Snakes and Ladders?” at any given point in the gameplay. A common approach would be to state “whoever is in front”, but the ladders might have something to say about that. [Alex] uses Markov analysis to investigate, coming to some interesting conclusions about how the game works, and how this compares to the design of more complex games like Mario Kart and Power Grid.

Overall, it’s a breakdown of a popular game that’s simple enough to really sink your teeth into, but has some incredibly interesting conclusions that are well worth considering for anyone designing their own board games. We love seeing math applied to novel and fun problems – and it can solve important problems, too.

11 thoughts on “Simulating Snakes and Ladders for Fun, Not Profit

    1. I can read it without signing up?

      The actual article/analysis isn’t at linkedin BTW, it’s at: http://www.datagenetics.com/blog/november12011/

      But why is this posted here, where is the connection to this site? The analysis of the game is just that, not a hack. The meta-analysis provided at linkedin isn’t a hack. It provides no real insights, it provides no help in doing analysis of real world problem. At most it’s a filler but aren’t there more relevant ones?

  1. I once made a MatLab simulation to see if certain streets in monopoly or visited more often, which turns out they are. The article Megol linked is a nice read, my simulation didn’t made it into such a full story.

  2. I had “Chutes and Ladders” as a kid. Later I saw some other modern game which was “Snakes and Ladders”. I thought the snakes thing was a way to rip off “Chutes…” without completely copying it. Now, this inspired me to actually google it and I see that “Snakes and Ladders” is ancient. Chutes are the ripoff.

    My childhood is ruined!

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