The Rules for Marbles
AKA “Killer” Marbles
Cheating for family fun and friendship
The Lund family game of “Marbles” is based on the Indian game of Pachisi, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pachisi, dating back to at least the 15th or 16th century and may date back to the 3rd century Anno Domini.
The rules listed here are the game as I learned to play it as a teen age boy with family friends (George and Sally Lund) in San Antonio, TX, during high school. One variant has been added, the “short cut”.
The game is played on a board for 4, 6, or 8 players, though any lesser number may play. For 4, the layout is as follows:
1. The HOME row is the goal. The winner is the first player to move all his marbles around the board and into the HOME row.
2. Each player selects 4 like marbles, or other token, and places them in the PARKING row.
3. The outermost row of 4 is a PARKING row, where the player’s marbles sit until they are entered into play.
4. Play begins when each player rolls one die. The player with the highest roll begins the game, with each player to the left following.
5. To move out of the PARKING row, a player must roll a 1 or a 6, and moves onto the OUT spot.
6. The first spot in from the left FREE TURN is the OUT spot, where a marble enters play from the PARKING row on the roll of a 1 or a 6. Play proceeds to the left around the board.
7. The outside corners are FREE TURNS. Landing directly on an outside corner gives another roll of the die.
8. The inside corners are SAFE spots. A marble sitting in a SAFE spot cannot be killed.
9. The SHORT CUT is an option that can circumvent much of the distance around the board. The SHORT CUT is landed on by direct count of a roll through a SAFE spot. Leaving a SHORT CUT requires a 1 or a 6; that marble may only move to a SAFE spot of the player’s choosing on that roll.
10. A roll of a 6 gives a free turn. 3 successive 6’s cause the last marble moved to return to PARKING.
11. A player may not pass himself and may not kill himself. If a player is forced to land on his own marble (as when a marble is stuck waiting to get HOME), the marble being moved returns to PARKING. A player may not surrender a turn to avoid an unfavorable outcome.
12. A player must always move the full roll of the die, except when coming out of PARKING or SHORT CUT. If moving the full roll of the die is not possible, the player does not move and play continues according to the rules. If that roll was a 6, the player still has a free turn in such a situation.
13. Cheating is allowed, unless caught.
14. The winner should sign and date the back of the board.