With its colorful board and whimsical characters, Candy Land is a classic game for kids. Kids like the tension of not knowing where their characters will end up, and the color-based movement system is perfect for players who aren't ready to deal with reading or math yet. The rules of Candy Land are very simple, and a game passes relatively quickly.
Setting Up the Game
Candy Land requires minimal time to set up. After unfolding the board, each player chooses a playing piece and places it on the first square of the track. The spinner included in the game requires assembly. Older versions of the game used cards to randomize movement. If you're playing one of these older versions, shuffle the cards before playing. Find out which of the players is the youngest; this child will get to take the first turn.
Playing the Game
Each player takes it in turn to spin the spinner. The arrow may come to rest on a single color block, a double color block or a picture. If the arrow lands on a single color block, the player moves her piece to the next space of that color. If the spinner shows a double color block, the player skips the next space of that color and moves to the one after that. A picture space can be good or bad -- the player moves to the space matching that picture, whether it's ahead or behind.
Some spaces on the board have special rules. If a player lands on a space marked with a red licorice "X," he loses his next turn. Two spaces are marked with red arrows and connected to bridges; if a player lands on one of these squares, she can move immediately to the space at the other end of the bridge. Two pieces can't occupy the same square; if a player lands on a square with another piece on it, she advances to the next square of the same color if it's a color square or spins again if it's a picture square.
Winning the Game
The first player to reach the Kandy Kastle wins the game. To reach this rainbow-colored square, a player needs to reach the end of the track and then spin a result of any color on the spinner.
Candy Land Variations
The board and equipment of Candy Land have changed many times over the years, as have the characters represented by the playing pieces, but these changes are mostly cosmetic. Older versions used cards rather than a spinner, but the mechanics are otherwise similar. A spinoff game, Candy Land: Sweet Celebration, requires players to travel around the board collecting Treat Tokens before reaching the end of the track.
Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.