Malefiz or Barricade – it’s “Ludo on steroids”

Sometimes you want to play some game with family or friends, but you don’t want to get tired mentally. You rather want to relax, talk with someone during play etc. In such situations games with random element are fine. Some of these games are very popular – eg. Pachisi (aka Ludo). Unfortunately, Ludo is quite simple … too simple. Perhaps you’d like to play some game similar to Ludo, but you want this game to be a bit more challenging, more surprising or demanding more strategic thinking?

If you are looking for such a game, relaxing but not too simple, I propose Malefiz.

Malefiz is a game for 2, 3 or 4 players, well known in Germany. It was designed by a man named Werner Schöppner, who first worked in a bakery, and later he was a system analyst. Schöppner was clearly inspired by the game Pachisi (aka Ludo). But in his own game he resigned from “circular” board and introduced a new type of neutral pieces – so-called barricades. The game, developed by Schöppner was published by Ravensburger Spieleverlag GmbH since 1960.

This game was sold under many names in different countries. In Poland, it was known as “Barykada”. Other names in other languages include: Gold Rush, Hindernislauf, Hoppla, Obstruction or Ett tjuv- oh rackarspel. Trade names of this game were often the word “barricade” in different languages and so the game was known as Barricada, Barricata, Barrikad, Barrikade etc.

Board, pieces and die

To play Malefiz you need a board like on the picture below. One field on the top of the board is specially marked (in this case by a star). Lower fields arranged in the shape of a cross (with color highlited lines) are also important.

Malefiz
Malefiz board

There are other versions of the board, where the lower fields are arranged in the C-shape or a pentagon shape. This can be seen in the booklet with rules provided the Ravensburger company.

Malefiz boards are sometimes wooden, with holes instead of the fields. It looks lovely.

In addition you need pieces and dice to play.

  • 5 pieces for each player (for each in a different color) and
  • 11 white pieces (so called barricades).

The game is designed for 2, 3 or 4 players. Playing against 3 opponents is certainly most funny. In such a situation, there are simultaneously 31 pieces on the board (20 players’ pieces and 11 barricades pieces).

Initial setting

Initial setting is shown on the diagram below. White barricades are always placed on the same fields on the start. Players’ pieces are placed on the lower fields arranged in a cross shape. Each player (yellow, green, blue and red) has its own starting positions.

Malefiz - ustawienie początkowe
Malefiz – initial setting

You also need one die to play. You can also play with two dice, but the basic variant requires one.

Game mechanics

Aim of the game

Malefiz is a race. Players race to final top field marked with the star. The winner is the first player who get one of his pieces on this field.

Of course, there are some important rules in this race.

Moving rules

Players make moves sequentially. In one turn player rolls a die and moves one of his pieces in any direction for as many fields as shown on the die. The diagram below shows the move possibilities after throwing 4. The player has three possible ways (large red dots indicate final reached).

 Malefiz
Moving in Malefiz

If there is another player’s piece on the way, it can be simply bypassed (or it can be captured – see below).

Note: It is not allowed to move forwards and backwards in one move. You can turn, but you can’t move forward and then backwards.

Note: In the first move, central field  of starting fileds counts as a first field.

Removing the barricades

If there is barricade on the way choosed by a player, this barricade can not be passed. It must be removed first.

Removing a barricade occurs when a player lands one of his pieces on the top of barricade (with an exact throw). The player who removes a barricade, have the right to place it on any choosen fild on the board, with the exception of the fields in the lowest (first) row.

If a player standing before barricade throws a number of points not allowing to remove it, he or she may approach to the barricade. He or she can also move back.

Capturing opponent’s pieces

If player lands on the field occupied by opponent’s piece, this opponent’s piece is captured. Captured piece is sent back to the start and begins its journey from there.

Two dice variant

Some people like to play Malefiz with two dice. In this case after each turn player moves not one, but two of its pieces. The game becomes more dynamic and the player has more capabilities of moving.

Impressions and tactics

This game is very funny, especially if four people are playing. It is relaxing, but at the same time quite complex tactics makes it interesting. During the game you have to take care of having a lot of pieces in play. The more pieces in race means the greater chance of removing barricades. And removed barricades can be used block opponent or to protect your pieces. I would recommend this game to anyone looking for funny game for meeting with friends with a beer, coffee or other beverages ;-).

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