Uckers
You Are at Home : Games : Uckers


If you have arrived, directly at this page, please take time to browse the Home page where the songs ditties and traditions of the Royal Navy & Royal Marines are discussed.

 

Go direct - UCKERS RULE VARIANTS - Big Ships - China Fleet - Grand Fleet - Jungle - Sea Scouts - Small Ships - Submariners - WAFU

-

 

Before Uckers became widespread in RN use. The most popular board game was Nine Men's Morris. Although in the Modern Navy, that game is now very rarely met with, although occasionally in my navy of the 1970's-80's, you could still find some messes with engraved or homemade boards, but even then it was considerably less common than backgammon. A game which itself was quite rare on Naval messdecks, and then usually found in its shop bought form. With dedicated players having their own 'travel' set.

Uckers - without any argument what so ever, is now acknowledged as the leading, (non sports-field) Royal Naval game. Holding this status since at least World War One. Yet very rarely does it get a mention in biographical sources before World War 2. -  It has been consistently played in the service for well over 100 years. Yet such is the way, matelots almost never seem to record their own social history, in their diaries and so little can be found written, in respect to the games development. Whilst it is the more prolific photographic record that we must rely, with very few shots being taken of sailors relaxing below decks before WW2.
In consequence the origins of the game in the Naval environment, is now lost in antiquity and we are left to piece together the tradition from rare notes and references.

Of strict importance in that process, is the presence of the multitude of 'rule sets' that existed between the World Wars. It was this variation that was not only instrumental in the games popularity, whilst the development and variety in the various rule sets, alone testifies to a long tradition of use, that can be dated back over at least several earlier decades.

Such diversity was jealously guarded, until the PTI branch, in its ultimate way, produced a standard rule set, that was published in its Sports handbook, to regulate inter-ship competition. Although there was a perfectly good system for deciding rule-variations already in place. Whilst the Naval newspaper 'Navy News' has also seen fit to  provide a standard set of rules.

 Despite such officious interference, fortunately, the development of the game, appears to be an active and fluid process, which closely reflects the innovation and inventiveness of the Naval Matelot in general. But  as the service shrinks in size so standardisation will inevitably occur .

It was from those earlier heritage, rule-sets, that the strength, character and popularity of the game, in the modern service takes its root and I hope the diversity will remain, for ever. Perhaps driven by the strong insistence of  WAFU's and the Submariners, that their  rule sets are the only proper ones. Lets hope they stick to the guns, their bombs and torpedoes, (to their own game).

In the olden days before WW2, each fleet (Home, China and Mediterranean etc. had its own particular rule set. Famed amongst those individual sets was the Far East Rules. Which probably can make claim to being amongst the oldest, or earliest set of rules. Fortunately it was a rule set, that was apparently adopted almost in its entirety by the the youngest branch of the service, the Fleet Air Arm, who are now said to have stolen them.

If there is any hope or justice left left - May the Big PTOI man above, make a new decree for the rewrite of the sports manual to record all the popular sets of rules whilst labeling their own as the approved 'international competition set'.
One would like to think that when inter service challenges are issued:-  As in days of old, it is the challanged
who shall name their 'weapon', or choose the rule set to be played.

History - As mentioned the origins of the game, are essentially clouded in mystery - for sailors seldom record in their ditty books, or diary what they had to eat that day, the songs they sung or the rules of the messdeck game, they played. Such being considered common knowledge. - Yet the evidence would most certainly suggest that  Uckers was based on the the ancient Indian game of Chauper, with some influence coming from the similar game of Pachisi which is more like 'Ludo'.

The game became familiar to the officers and men of the East Indian Company Armies and of course the Indian Navy. They in turn brought it back home with them to the West at a later date. The familiarity with the game, probably passed via the Indian and Burmese naval forces, into the Royal Navy, probably at about the time of the early Burmese Wars of the 1820's or more certainly during the second Burmese war of 1853. But certainly by the Indian Mutiny of 1857, where men of the Royal Navy spent much time, in the center of India. A similar process of passage into the Navy was made with the Chinese game of Maj-Jong following the opium wars of 1842 and Chinese wars of the late 1850's after which their was a consistent presence of gun boats around shanhghai and Hong Kong.

Indeed it is well noted, that  after the 'Indian Mutiny' of 1857, the game in its simplified form, was well known in England and America, where it was quickly known by the title of 'Ludo' (Latin for 'I Play'), as said the rules of that game are more akin to Pachisi and we find frequent mention being made after that date, in connection with the games available at Pub, or Public House Registrations etc.

The game with the title of Ludo, was first published in England in 1863. In that form, two to four persons play, without partnerships using one dice. In America a similar game to Ludo was known as Parcheesi, verifying the earlier connection, and published examples can be dated from about 1867 when a Mr John Hamilton sold the rights to a New York manufacturer in 1868. However boards of similar construction, are dated well before this, in the American folk collections of the 1850's.

In essence Ludo is a linear 'race' game, the outcome of which, is essentially determined by the 'luck' of the thrown dice. There is very little strategic input required from the players.

In contrast we have noted the RN association to India, Particularly in the Expedition to Java (1811), Burmese wars (1826 and 1853), Chinese War (1842 also 1857-8), and most importantly the Indian Mutiny (1857) where large numbers of men were employed ashore within the sub-continents for some time. Their is little question that it is from the time of the (Mutiny), that the game was popularly admitted onto the RN messdeck and thereafter developed, to introduce a greater strategic element. A process, which created the development of the various rule sets, being diversely but simultaneously developed, within the separate fleets of the Royal Navy. Fleets that were often operating for long periods out of direct contact with each other. That factor particularly illustrates why the  China or Far East set, is so different from the other sets as used in the Atlantic and Home Fleets, where a closer relationship was present and where inter-fleet competition was more readily demonstrated or held.

The essential difference between the RN game and the simpler Ludo, is the installed skills learnt to prevent your opponent completing the circuit to home. This interaction revolves around the blobs, and the ability of an opponent to control his pair of dice so that he is able to HUCK the blob.

Huck - is an old Naval term, meaning to remove a difficult object by force or persistence and has a direct relationship to the term Chuck - which itself means to eject or throw an object, perhaps with some initial force or energy. - It is from this term used to describe the effort needed to remove or off (board) a blob, That the game was referred to as Huckers.
    Of course the coincidental and traditional 'up board' of a frustrated opponent, may, with an eye on the comical reference, also be worthy of some close consideration as well.

Some inconsequential trivia - The propensity of sailors to drop their H's is well illustrated in the book 'Ballads of the Blue' and as illustrated elsewhere on this site.  - It is also sometimes said that the word Huck is related in usage to another nautical term Hog - which describes a rough flat scrubbing broom, used to scrub a ships bottom in order to 'huch' dirt and barnacles from the underside of the ship. To do this a Heck-boat or Hog-boat is frequently used, which is a single-masted boat or pink with a balancing trysail.

 

Proof

Unfortunately, all descriptions on how any game were played in the earlier decades, reside only in the memories of those who served and who never wrote them down. Thus much of the information here is derived from oral discussion with ex-naval men, who have served from the turn of the century and with whom I have had the fortune to meet.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the first published reference to the game was in 1946 by John Irving in his volume Royal Navalese. Here it should be noted that John was describing the life he knew in the RN in the years preceding thus that attribution should be pre-1946 which certainly embraces World War 2.

Direct evidence is also taken from the preservation of early boards, in particular a six sided board of Victorian/Edwardian origins, seen by this writer,  had symbols such as crows and anchors in the home bases. As sailors in the RN, are consistently noted for their propensity to gamble, or in their eagerness to make wager in every form, vide Crown and Anchor etc, undoubtedly that board had a dual purpose, not only for Uckers but Crown and Anchor as well. 

The earliest written record so far found, is in the diaries of EJF Records as preserved in the RN Museum, in 1934 he notes -

The 'Hucca' boards are out again. A civilian would think the fellows mad if he could see some of the antics, whilst a game was in progress. Fellows play sitting on the floor and if by chance, the thrower has a chance of Hucking an opponent, he does a ceremonial shake. Twists the cup in various ways and speaks to the dice, and thus when the dice are thrown 4 sterns are cocked into the air as 4 noses very nearly rub the dice.

This account will be as familiar to those playing today as it was then, it also provides us with the information, that four players are working the board, that a magical touch was needed to remove a blob and indeed that blobs were part of the rule set in use, whilst this also presents the only evidence so far known that a cup was used to hold the die or dice. All assets common to the playing of the game today. 

Vol. 159 of 1937 p.267  gives a description of Grand Uckers -  " we keep ourselves amused by sleeping and childhood games like 'ukkers' a Naval Ludo, in which the wardroom was the inter-mess champions - This requires great skill with 6 inch dice in a bucket and a board in proportion. "

This account describes a 'fun' inter ship competition on a naval 'sports'day.

We also know that when HMS Ark Royal was commissioned in 1937, the builders supplied a large deck cover marked out in the form of a Uckers Board, for use during sports days. A similar deck cover was present on board the Ark Royal in 1976. and used at Sports Days at sea and for use in Grand Uckers. - The fact that the
ships builders went to that trouble, to provide such a board for the benefit of the whole ships company, Certainly provides strong coincidental evidence that the game was indeed an established and therefore a major relaxation sport.

Their are frequent mentions of the game in World War 2  - in 1940 The Illustrated London News Vol.19 No2 carried a picture  of naval officers in the wardroom playing 'ukkers' (sic) It comments that they played with discs as counters', providing evidence of the normal home made style of board.

In 1944, Stoker F. Evans aboard HM Submarine Taku won the Uckers tournament and his cup made from 'Ideal' milk cans is in the collection of the Submarine Museum.

Uckers cup

 

In 1954 a Grand Uckers Tournament was held at Wembly  - see Grand Uckers.

In 1970 the long association of the game to the RN is also noted when HMS Blake came out of refit. A new communal canteen was installed on '01' deck and on the floor of which,  the dockyard had laid tiles to represent an uckers board.

The ships pieces were cut from a wood log and carved by a chippy  and the dice was shaken in a large and extremely vintage dhobie bucket. - LRO Frank Evans, aboard on that commission, tells us that at night the dining tables and benches were removed to the edges and 'serious' battle commenced, though it was difficult to 'upboard'!

For decades one of the most viscous of casual insults that was thrown ay any player was that they were a 'six throwing bastard'  - an insult that could be used in almost any context (not just when playing the game), to refer to a lucky situation occurring to your oppo, and the worst insult you could throw at anybody during the game, was to call them 'A ludo player!'. This later offence, usually stated when a player was making a desperate run to get his pieces home, with a run of sixes,  without giving his opponent the chance to 'uck' a blob.

In conclusion and with authority, we know that 'uckers' was being played at the turn of the nineteenth century, and that by the First World War its popularity was so overwhelming, that other games like Nine Mans Morris, had been driven into decline. The components (dice, board etc.), for the game, were hand made and every mess or crew room had a least one board. That would be used, from at least WW2 onwards, at every stand easy. It was not uncommon for mini mess competitions to be rigorously fought day after day after day.
The game was popular in in inter-ship competition and well represented as a fleet game,  between rival battle squadrons in the 1920's as well as during 'regatta' competitions, when in the evenings, the various ships fought out their supremacy across the uckers board.

Undoubtedly for the ships in the Battle Fleets that swung on the bouys of Scapa Flow in WW1 & 2, it offered a respite from monotony. Indeed there would be no sailor aboard, that was not only familiar with it, but actively addicted by it. As evidenced by the comment by Irving in his dictionary, though as an officer, he might be excused for stating it to be a game for three or four persons! - When it is only ever-played in two's or four's. (In all the rule sets and fragmentary references, no form of three person game has ever been recorded, unless by coincidence it was with the six sided board already mentioned.

This game, is still so entrenched in oral tradition, that even today, despite so called standardised rules, it is still requisite to have a meeting to mediate the way it is too be played before any first dice is thrown in an important competition. 

Individual ships might proudly claim that the only rule set to be followed was the China Fleet or Pompey way etc. But even these are so liberally laden with sub sets of instruction, that it is fair to say, the standard rules were as numerous and varied as there were ships in the RN. Even in a single messdeck, heated and visible discussion, over some obscure and seldom used ruling might invoke a violent and terminal, up board. With cataclysmic disagreements usually recorded on the underneath of the board by communal consent.

Such is the ferocity of opinion on this subject, within the Navy. That as the fleet reduced in size and status, to now be barely able to muster a single squadron for an overseas major deployment. So the PT staff attempted, to incorporate a definitive rule set, into the Royal Navy Sports handbook. On the whole, up to at least the 1990's this has proved unpopular with the men, and generally failed to dispel the hotly disputed arguments, which I take pains to point out, was usually what gave that veritable spice to the game.

I dare say the 'Official' rules will win out in the end, to the detriment of the fun, such is life even on grey funnel steamers. Whilst it seems everyone has got in on the act to revive the nostalgia of what should be considered the proper 'Rule Set' that even the 'Navy News', the broadsheet newspaper of the Royal Navy, has joined in with their offering and we begin to see published games made available to Non naval players.

Fortunately, this flurry, of interest, is currently serving to perpetuate the disagreements and overwhelming disparity that these differing rule sets, perpetuate, and long may such argument lend character and fun to the game.

GRAND UCKERS
Traditional sports days aboard ship, Banyans or a general 'Party Day' held in the middle of a calm ocean in the tropics or Mediterranean, perhaps a Grand Uckers tournament is held as part of a 'Sunday at Sea' preceding a traditional Sods Opera.
Usually 'Grand Uckers' is an inter ship or department activity, played on an oversized board. the counters are men dressed up in fancy costume and the dice thrown from a dhoby bucket or large bin.
The largest and most comprehensive tournament to date was held at Wembly in 1954.
All the counters were men dressed in costume and kept in line by bosun's dressed in Nelsonian rig. the board was 3600 square feet in area, the dice weighed 16 pounds and took two sailors to throw.
64 players qualified in the preliminaries to compete, there were two volunteer bands and the Band of the Coldsteam Guards to entertain.

 

Uckers Our Game
On these pages it is not the intention to provide a standard set of rules by which you can play the game. It is to illustrate the historical significance of our most illustrious sport. By making reference to every set of rules now known.
When asked if he could name any rule set by title, my friend 'Dicky Dawes' replied 'I always assumed they made the rules up as they went along and the most important one of which was 'up board'
So come on some of you old an bold 'Jack Me Hearties' you must have noted down some of the rules you played with. Even perhaps those ancient and mythical Grand Fleet Rules.
Please help us find mention of the game in diary and book.
Michael Payne in his book When I was on the Tartar (Circa 1970's). p.102 (An excellent read!) gives an insight into such rivalry -

Uckers is an extremely tactical and psychological game. … Before playing  you would decide on the appropriate rules either ‘far east’ or another set. You also agreed the battle cry generally ‘Uckers yer fuckers…' you then played to the death. I have seen fights break out following defeats and participants thrown across the messdecks for alleged cheating. I have also seen the ‘uckers’ table smashed up and all the bits thrown over the side.

Such is the seriousness of how this game is taken by the Naval Sailor. Removing the board from the messdeck is a way of removing the addiction it causes to everyone. But don't worry, you can always find another board in the next compartment or messdeck.

Uckers boards are always locally made, and never ever bought. Indeed a proper 'Jack Tar' wouldn't be seen playing on anything else. In commissioning a new ship, it is usually the first task for the junior lad to make the board. AND Woe-be-tide his 'Street credibility' if he gets it wrong. (See Making a Board).  It is also very important, to paint the board in the correct colour order. Yellow is always opposite Green. As to which colour comes next to green in clockwise order, or how the individual squares are actually coloured, I will leave to you to argue over. The board might be a converted table with a top painted and decorated in honour. It can be a large sheet of perspex, covering a piece of plywood, (whilst you can always note the oldest brooms or squeege's in the cleaning locker, as their handle have been cut, to make the counters.)  

Finally many an Uckers game as been played, with a tot as the stake.

THE RULES

The object here is to record the diversity of rule sets. Not create a definitive one.
PLEASE, Please, please. and if only because the PT Staff and Navy News versions threaten to weaken the game by removing its diversity, it is essential to preserve the things as we used to know and play them. Make sure the version you know is illustrated here - Chatham rules or China Fleet etc. are desperately Wanted.
Have you seen a mention of uckers in autobiographical memoirs
- PLEASE WRITE AND TELL ME -

Please send in your amendments, variations and suggestions- Make sure you tell me what set we are talking about.

 

The Basic or Common Rules

To play the game - You require one board (of which one corner is illustrated above). Four counters of each colour (16 in total), respectively placed on each Home base corner or Hole. Plus two, six sided dice and lots of skill.

Only the one common set of dice is used by both teams. They are thrown from the hand and never a cup, except in ''Grand Uckers'. The exception to this rule, occurs on banyan or sports days, when a inter-ship or department competition is held. Large special dice are used and thrown from a dhoby bucket or dustbin. These special dice are always large and both cannot be picked up in one hand. Team members often take the place of the counters and are often in coloured sports shirts or other fancy dress.

A game begins by each player throwing both dice to see who starts. The highest total starts, if there is a draw then the player with the highest individual dice starts. If this is still a draw all players throw again.

In every move the die must be thrown on to the board, any dice that moves a counter, completely from its square or bounces off the board will create a 'bum throw' any dice that does not land flat but has an edge perhaps cocked up is a 'cocky die' . In both cases of a bum throw or cocky die the whole throw must be taken again, some rules forefeit the throw or three cocky dies / bum throws in a row - looses the turn - It is essential that on certain throws, and you will soon know which ones these are, that you give yourself time, to mentally prepare the throw, to blow on your fingers, massage the hand to increase the heat in the dice, or carry out some other form of witch-craft, that will call on the gods for a special favour. It is common to practice mental levitation after the throw, to guide the dice, so that they land accurately or to give a very timely shout, so that the directed sound waves, will make the dice kick-over or give them enough addittional weight, so that they will rock onto a six or the precise number needed. It was scientificaly proven, aboard HMS Ark Royal, in 1976, when the catapaults were short of steam and didn't work, that a well applied shout or swear word, artistically and strategically applied, to a die throw; can change the density of the air in sufficient measure, so as to achieve the aim of the thrower.

It is essential and requisite, that a player must have a good relationship with the dice if he is to win.

All counters start in the home-base, a six must be thrown to release a counter or ucker onto the doorsetep (Number 1 in diagram) and thus allow it into the field of play.
The object of the game is to release all the counters you control and take them in a clockwise path around the board unitl you get to position 2, (See board above). You then move them up the coloured 'shit shute' to the triangle which is the home-port (Position 3.) Any counter reaching port is removed from the board and out of play. An exact dice throw is needed to take the counter into Port. (the triangle or dead zone.)
All counters on the board are in play, and can affect the outcome.

Each player wil throw the dice in turn and must if he is able to do so. use each dice to move a counter (a man, or a 'ucker) or carry out a move. Each counter must travel the actual number of squares represented by the dice, (you cannot split the number shown on an individual dice between two or more counters.) You do however throw two dice, and each individual die can be separately applied to any counter. The highest number die must be applied first. however if you apply both die to steam a counter it must travel the full distance of th applied dice or die if both were used to move a single counter, before it can take any action. When you throw your dice and have one or more counters that can be moved, you must move. You cannot just move the value of one dice, and not the other, if by another particular move both die coud make legal moves.

All counters start from the home-base. They can only enter the field of play, by the throw of a six. Thus if your first throw comprises of the first dice, showing a six and the second dice, a four. If no other counters were in play, The player must move from Home to (position 1 (doorsetep) on the board - Dice one ) and then move it forwards by a count of four (dice 2). If however the player has other counters in play - he could elect to use either dice in lieu of either step noted above. So long as both dice are legally used. Always, the highest numbered dice must be moved first. (Thus with counters in the home he cannot elect to move a six on the board but then be unable to move the four, when by bringing out, an ucker from home it would allow the whole throw to be used.

Six Rule - A throw of a six allows you to move a dice out of base, make a challenge or move a counter It also gives you another throw of the dice (regardless of how many sixes are thrown- you only get one extra throw for each throw of the dice.) As each die is applied separately if a double six is thrown you can release one or two pieces and move one or two men but you still only get one free throw. If you elect to move a counter six places but cannot move the smaller numbered die. But you do have a piece in homebase or could challenge, then you must do this so that both dice can be played.

If you throw a six but cannot move you still have your extra throw. You may if there is no chance whatsoever of moving a counter, voluntary pass the dice on. (Such a condition exists if you may have all your counters stuck in a mixy blob, behind an opponents blob, (see below)

A six thrown at any time or in a sequence of sixes can be applied to getting a piece out or moving a piece or making a challenge. But once a challenge is made, the process continues till you finish it, this also ends your turn. Thus after making a challenge you can no longer move any other counter.

Knocking Off - If you and visa versa your opponent comes to rest (lands) on a counter of the opposite player the affected counter is returned to home base, to await a six. You cannot with only one counter in play, throw a four and a one, move the counter four to send a counter home or other action and then move the same counter one, as any dice applied to a single counter must be applied as a total. If the total of the two dice is five ,the end of the move the counter would not rest on the square the opponents counter had occupied. If a six is thrown you move the counters and take or receive the consequences before taking your extra throw. You may in such circumstances land on an opponent and send him home, as that six throw gives you an extra turn then you may on the subsequent throw of the dice move the same counter again.

Moving - Two dice are thrown. Both dice must be used if at all possible, the highest value is applied first. If you are in a two person game, You can move either colour with either die. If in a partnered four person game, you can only move your own pieces with your throw, until such time as all your pieces are in the home or dead-zone, when you can then move your partners counters. No direct consultation allowed. - Thus If you have one piece at home-base and one at the mouth of the shit-chute, you cannot play the six to move the piece to the end triangle (6 paces) and thus not use the four, you must instead get a the piece out of the home with the six and then either move that one four paces, or move the other four paces up the shit-chute.

Blobs - When two or more counters of the same colour sit on each other, thus occupying a second square, this is called a Blob, your opponent cannot pass one of your blobs but you can move over your own blob, with counters of either colour. If you canot move another counter then you must break the blob.

Mixy Blob - When two or more counters of a one player, which are of different colours sit on each other, this is a 'mixy blob' - A mixy blob has no blocking powers and only ever has the powers of a single counter. Your opponent can pass a mixy blob, regardless of how many counters are blobbed up. An opponent can send a complete mixy blob home by landing on it with a single counter. Mixy blobs cannot make a challenge against a proper blob.

If all your counters are in a mixy blob behind an opponents blob, there is no point in throwing the dice as you cannot do anything. Though some players may elect to do so to keep the dice 'hot'.

Challenge rule - To remove a blob - place one or more of your counters of the same colour behind your opponents blob. When you next throw a six, you can elect to use it to attempt to remove a blob. If you do so then from that point on in the throw sequence you can not use any dice to do anything else or apply them to another counter. If you succeed then your turn is over irrespective of whether of the six thrown as this has been used to get him off..

You can only declare a challenge if you throw a six on your first throw. You then say (indicating which situation you are talking about) 'Once at it' or perhaps 'Once at the Greens' etc. if theres a choice.- You must throw one six for each counter in the blob plus an extra one, thus for a blob of two counters, three sixes must be thrown in any one turn. Thus the cry 'once at it, twice at it' Then at the top of your voice 'GET 'EM OFF'. A demolished blob is sent back to its home and one only attacking counter moved one pace forward to occupy the blobs previous position- In a challenge only the sixes are counted, all other numbers are ignored and cannot be used elsewhere.

If you fail to get him off, you stay where you are as you cannot move forward.

To Get Home-to Port - Having taken a piece around the board, you must turn into the coloured strip that represents your own 'shit-chute'. On no circumstances can you do a second cycle of the board. Only red pieces can go in the red shit-chute etc. Red pieces can never pass the bottom of the Red shit-chute and do another circuit of the board. To enter the 'home port',  or dead-zone triangle at the top of a shit-chute. An exact throw is needed on the dice. But both dice have to b applied if they can. But if the highest dice is unable to move a piece, it can be discarded. (usual with last piece home.) If however you go home on a six and cannot therefore move with the second die, and you have a piece in home base Priority must be given to releasing the piece from homebase.

To steam piece - To apply all your throws in a sequence by choice, to move a single counter around the board quickly is said to 'Steam Piece'.

Eight Pieces - Any person who is 8-pieced in a formal challenge - will normally have a fine to pay. This has a tendency to discourage inexperienced players getting above themselves.

Roll of Honour - Only classic wins or dramatic up boards are entered onto the bottom of the uckers board according to mess custom and only then by majority consensus.

Cheating - Timber shifting, leaving the game before the end without getting somebody to sit in, or up-boarding, always forfeits or ends the game.

Up Board - Any person up-boarding, forfeits the game, with the same penalties as an eight piecer.

There are two games -

Game 1 - (Two players)

The Common rules above are used.

Each player has the two colours, that lay opposite each other on the board, thus Red and Blue or Yellow and Green. The player chooses which pieces to bring into play, moving either colour with either dice

Game 2 - (Four Players)
This game follows the same common rules as above, but now the two opposite facing players are a team.

No single player of the team can direct the play of the other, except in general terms as carried out by the crowd of onlookers and there are always some. Thus he can advise a move is foolhardy but not tell him which piece to move, but much body language and sucking of teeth is generally in force.

Each player, will throw the dice at his turn, and use those dice to move his own pieces.  You cannot move your opponents counters whilst yours are on the board.

In play - your partner can pass over your pieces or blobs, but if he lands his counter on yours, it rest on top to form a mixy blob. Your partner does not by landing on you, send you back to base. The opposing team can move over a mixy blob as if it wasn't there, but if they land on it with a single counter the whole mixy' goes home. 

If a players counters are all safely gathered in-port(home). He still continues to throw, but  first he mustthrow a six to become active. Then on subsequent throws he can move his opposite partners counters, but you still have distinct moves and cannot converse in any great detail.

He must however work with his partner not against him, he cannot send his partners counters to home base, suck or blow them back.

Once in the 'shit shute' the coloured home passage you are safe from being landed on as only you can go up there. To get a counter home a perfect throw is needed.

Both dice must be used, the highest one first, if that cannot move the next highest is then tried.

No game is won until the teams eight counters are off the board. I have seen many a last ditch steam piece and suck backs win the day.

The China Fleet Rules !!! - (WAFU) - (Big Ships)
These rules though originating in the Far East from at least the 1920's, now have a strong following in the big ships of the 1960's to 1990's.

In the 1970's and 1980's this set of rules became known as the WAFU's rules. Possibly because, it was on the big ships (Aircraft Carriers) that most Fleet Air Arm bods could be found r they could be commonly sent to places like Changhi in Singapore.

The main rule difference, that designate the China Fleet Rules is the use of Blow back and Suck back. Most other rule sets of the time and to some extent today, particular the small-ship set, play a rule set, where once you're in your own 'shit shute' you are safe.

Wafu's (Western Air Fitters Union(Ucker) rules include The Basic rule set as given above

To Suck Back or remove a counter or blob up the shit shute. - Place a counter on the tail or botton of the shit shute at position 2 - On your next turn You declare your intention before you throw the dice by saying 'Suck Back the number of squares your opponents ucker stands away away. To succeed you must throw that number on either dice or in total to suck him back. As a bonus if he has two counters at two and three squares away, you need to throw the number you declare, thus if you say 'suck back two' and throw a two the counter up the shit-chute is removed to home, should you also throw a number corresponding to the other unspecified counter in the shit-chute that counter is also removed to home and you are called a 'Jammy bugger'

Whether your throw is successful or not, your counter moves on by one space. You do not use the second dice count anywhere else, except in sucking back. If two counters are up the shit-chute and are blobbed then both items have to be removed at the same time i.e. a cry to 'Suck back 4' at a double blob means a double 4 only must be thrown, to remove the blob. You cannot reach over a blob to suck back a single counter. In suck back or blow back situations A six does not give a second turn. Therefore a triple blob cannot be removed.

If you have a blob on the bottom of the opponents home-chute and call a suckback, whatever the outcome, one piece is of the blob, is moved on one step and not the whole blob. Thus splitting the double. Mixy blobs cannot suck back.

To blow back - Is the opposite move to a suck back. - in this case if one counter sits at position two and you have one or more counters up the shit chute, you say 'blow back' the requisite number of squares. If you get it your opponent is sent home but your counter is moved back to replace it at the bottom or tail of the chute. If you fail then you move to the bottom of the chute, which statistically gives you a better chance of getting home. If there is a two counter blob at the bottom of the chute you must throw a double of the requisite number.

You can blow back a mixy blob as it only counts as a single counter, therefore irrespective of how many counters in a mixy blob only one dice number is needed.

If you throw a six it is not counted and does not award a second throw.

You cannot use the second dice to move another counter on the board except in blow back double. You do not add the count of the two die together.

Small Ship Rules
The Basic Rule Set except

The six Rule - Is amended so that a challenge can be declared with any throw in a sequence and not just on the first throw as in the basic rules

The Steam Piece, Six Rule - Here instead of each throw in a sequence, allowing the player to move which ever counters he chooses. Now whichever counter is moved on the first six, then all subsequent throws must also be applied to that same counter, this is known as 'steaming the piece'. Should it come up against a blob or reaches the home chute, , the player can then choose before dice throw, to make a challenge, or apply the throw to a different piece. However if a player, during the Steam Ship process, throws a higher number, on the di', than the piece can be moved, he can then switch to another piece.

Home Safe - Any piece in the shit chute is considered safe, but must be taken home with an exact throw. No blow back or suck back rules
Submariner Rules
Submariners as you would expect do it all a bit different. There is none of this swanning around on the surface in a grey yacht for them. They like to creep up on you and wham you from a distance. - Good on yer mates, but you will forgive me if I prefer, me sun loungers and cocktails on the weather deck after work. The Basic Rule is applied plus

Gump rule - If you move a same colour double blob within 6 places of an opponents same colour double blob, and have no pieces in between. and a double is thrown on the dice which represents the number of squares needed, your blob can move forward as a single piece and Gump your opponents double blob (send both pieces home). This is like sinking him with a torpedo.

Snake Eyes (1) - At the start of the game (first throw) if a double one is thrown. All eight pieces are (Yours and your partners) blobbed on their respective door steps and are immediately in play.(You do not throw again) - Thanks to CCMEA Dave Lutwyche for this amendment.

Snake Eyes(2) - (On some boats this rule is an and/or situation) - If at any stage of the game you have four pieces on home base. If a double 1 (snake eyes) is thrown. All four pieces are blobbed on the doorstep and are in play.(You do not throw again.)

Home Safe - Any piece in the shit shute is considered safe, but must be taken home with an exact throw. No blow back or suck back rules.

Last  Piece - If the last piece is in the 'shit-chute' and you have no other counter on the board. Any one dice can be used to move that counter, and not just the highest..

Jungle Rules
The Jungle Rules at least by title, can be dated to about the mid 1960's and the Borneo campaign - Essentially they mean anything goes and were used by the Air Squadrons and the Marines

Six Rule - In throwing a six and elect to move a counter you cannot in the subsequent sequence convert to a challenge or get a piece out.

Bounce Back - To play Jungle Rules immediately invokes Bounce Back, here you can elect to move any counter, but when meeting a barrier(such as a blob or the dead zone) unless you stop naturally before it or go in on an exact number, you continue to move the dice count but immediately changes direction and travels in reverse. You must then call out, 'Bounce Back'. (Failure to do so returns your piece to home base.) If this move is as a result of a six throw, all subsequent of throws in the sequence must be applied to that one counter. You continue moving in reverse until your turn is over or you meet another block such as a blob or your own doorstep, when you reverse direction again.

Rule variation 1 - Six Rule Variation - Some messes will not allow you to make a challenge during a sequence of sixes unless it was stated on the first showing of a six.

Rule Variation 2 - Suck Back / Blow Back Variation - You declare this move before you throw, and there are no second turns, some messes allow a six to generate a second turn which can be used anywhere

 

Sea Scouts Rules
Equipment -
As above but with the addition of very small dice and a dice cup or shaker. Sea Scouts usually use a standard shop bought Ludo boards, but beware the exit from home on modern Ludo boards is in a different place which affects the play.

Sea Cadets, should note that when you are passed out of training a real matelots, you are noy only issued with your branch badges from slops, but are also issued with special hands, which with continued use and much practice, become intensely sensitive and able to keep the dice 'hot'. Such sensitivity is particularly necessary on small ships, so as to keep the dice on the board and in play, whilst the ships rolls from side to side.

To Play - Four players acting as individuals as they are still too skin to need a partner.


Rules - Read the book in the box called 'Ludo' and adopt the most basic of any rule set. -
only use one dice. A piece can go home when a dice thrown is a greater or exact numner than the squares lefty to move it.


Advanced Rule 1(TS Mantle) - Can only go home when an exact number is thrown, You must learb to use the shout  'once at 'em', etc.


Advanced Rule 2- When Advanced Rule 1 learnt, introduce partner to the mixy blob rule.

GAME CHANTS
This is your chance to add those almost forgotten but well used chants, or tell me if you used them before the date given.
Blow Back(two) 1968 Eagle If successful will move an opponent counter sitting at the bottom of the shit chute to home base.
Bounce Back   See Jungle Rules above.
Eight Piece, eight piece, eight pice, eight piece !969 Chanted like the football chant 'we won' etc. when you beat an opponent leaving his eight pieces on the board. - Some ships have an eight piece trophy to record this feat achieved in inter mess competitions.
Gilly Gilly for a six c.1930's Aboard HMS Revenge in the late 1930's - chanted by the onlookers in ship competitions to 'heat' up the dice. So a blob could be removed
Gumped WW2 To have a blob removed to base.

Ludo playing bastard

1969 Eagle Accusation when your opponent consistently sends counter home instead of allowing mixy blobs to be built up etc.
Once at 'em - Twice at 'em - GET 'EM OFF 1969 Aboard HMS Eagle in the messdeck
Six Throwing bastard 1968 Eagle Following a prolonged run of six throws
Snake Eyes 1968 Eagle Throw of a double one
Suck Back (two) 1969 -Eagle Aboard HMS Eagle in the messdeck
Timber Shifting WW2 Cheating - Moving counters more or less squares than on the dice.