Last night was game night at the house of some friends. One of the games we broke out was a brand new Candyland set. This is the modern Candyland, which has three “lose one turn” squares, rather than the “remain stuck until you draw the correct color card” version I remember from my childhood. In case you haven’t played in a while, the basic strategy of Candyland is this: draw cards and advance your token. There is literally no decision-making in Candyland. You don’t even get to decided who goes first; the rules specify that play starts with the youngest player and proceeds clockwise. So the course of the game is determined entirely by the random shuffling of the deck and where around the table players decide to sit.
This, as you might imagine, makes for a somewhat boring game. So we entertained ourselves by coming up with new rules to make the game more interesting. Here are the rules of Advanced Candyland.
• One Candyland set.
• One six-sided die.
Separate out the six character cards from the deck and put them aside. Shuffle the remaining cards and deal each player a four card hand.
Roll the die to determine order of play. Play starts with the person rolling the highest number, and proceeds clockwise around the table. Players get one action per turn. There are four possible actions: (1) roll the die and advance your token the rolled number of squares; (2) play a card from your hand on your token, and advance to the appropriate colored square as in standard Candyland; (3) play a card from your hand on another player’s token and advance it to the appropriate colored square as in standard Candyland; (4) if you have fewer than four cards in your hand, draw a card.
The goal of the game is to be the first player to gain entry to King Kandy’s castle. This is done by landing directly on the Rainbow square at the end of the board, while being in possession of no less than two character cards. Players acquire character cards by landing directly on the corresponding character square, which, as character squares have no color, can be done only by rolling the die (or by being bumped by another player, described below). When a player lands on a character square he or she gains ownership of the corresponding character card, taking it from another player if it is already owned. If a player lands on the square for a character he or she already owns, that player draws a card from the deck.
If the end of the board is reached and at least two character cards are not owned, the player moves his or her token back to the start and draws four new cards. When the deck is depleted, shuffle the discard pile and proceed as before. If a player’s token lands on an occupied space, the token that was already there is bumped back one space.
These rules made Candyland playable, though still not the most fun game in the world. Mediocrity may be the highest attainable goal with this foundation. One possible improvement we discussed but did not have the energy to pursue was to change the behavior of the licorice squares from losing a turn to something that fosters more player interaction. Suggestions of further refinements are welcome.