The Rules of the game of Goose

The Game of Goose, sometimes known as the Royal Game of Goose, is the earliest commercially produced board game - recorded in Italy as early as the end of the 15th Century. Over hundreds of years, it has appeared in a myriad variations of rules and illustrative designs. Many of the boards reflect politics or social situations of the time and some are incredibly beautiful and creative.

The basic form of the rules has remained remarkably consistent over the years. We give the standard basic rules that are as applicable to boards produced today as they are to boards produced 400 years ago. With thanks to board games historian, Adrian Seville.



The game is played on a spiral shaped board consisting of 63 spaces. There are four differently coloured pieces - often in the shape of a goose and two six-sided dice.


Preparation and Objective

Pieces are placed on the starting space at the outside of the spiral. Highest roll of the dice starts.

The Game of Goose is a simple race game - first person to reach space 63 wins.



Players take turns to roll the dice and moved their piece forward by the sum of the two dice. 

  • If your first throw is six and three, move to space 26.
  • If your first throw is five and four, move to space 53.
  • If a piece lands on an enemy piece, the enemy piece is returned to the space that the piece started from in that turn (i.e. the two pieces swap places).
  • If a piece lands on a space with a picture of a goose, it moves forward by same amount again. If this causes the piece to land on another goose, it moves forward again in the same way.

The following spaces are called Hazard spaces and are usually illustrated to match their name. If a piece lands on the space indicated, that piece must follow the stated rule.

6 The Bridge Go to space 12
19 The Hotel Stay for (miss) one turn
31 The Well Wait until someone comes to pull you out - they then take your place
42 The Maze Go back to space 39 (or space 30 in most French games)
52 The Prison Wait until someone comes to release you - they then take your place
58 Death Return your piece to the beginning - start the game again


Winning the Game

To win the game, a piece must land exactly on space 63.

If a player throws too many, the piece counts the extra points backwards from the winning space. If you then land on a goose space, you must continue moving backwards by the amount of your throw until you land on a space with no goose space. If you land on the Death space, you must start again.


Variation - Gambling / Grown-up Version

The game would more usually have been a gambling game in centuries past. At the beginning, the stake would be decided and each player would put one stake in the Pool. Then, each time one of the following events occur, the Pool increases:

  • When one piece lands on another, swapping places with it, both players pay a stake to the Pool
  • When a piece lands on any Hazard space, the player pays a stake to the Pool

The winner takes the Pool at the end of the game.

Many German boards feature an additional Hazard space on space 61 - usually illustrated with a glass of drink. If a piece lands on this space, the player has to finish his drink!




These rules are provided by Masters Traditional Games, an Internet shop selling quality traditional games, pub games and unusual games. For information on copying and copyright, see our disclaimer.

Our rules are comprehensive instructions for friendly play. If in doubt, always abide by locally-played or house rules.

Copyright Masters Games 2012. All rights reserved.

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