Playing Candy Land
If you arrived at this page after conducting a Google search for “how to play Candy Land,” that likely means one of two things: One, you’re a child between the ages of three and seven. Or, two, you’re a parent with kids who fall into that age range. If it’s the former, allow me to congratulate you on your advanced Internet skills. As for the latter, you’re about to learn a bit more about one of the most popular children’s board games ever sold.
The first version of Candy Land was designed in 1945 by Eleanor Abbott, a California woman who was recovering from polio. Four years later, it would be published by Milton Bradley and rapidly become the most popular board game of the decade. Several editions have been released over the years, and licensed versions have even been made for SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, and Winnie the Pooh.
I remember being fascinated with the picture of Molasses Swamp as a child, although many of my other memories of Candy Land have dimmed over the decades. Still, I do recall that it was a favored game before I was old enough to read or write, and the fact that new generations of kids are still thrilling to the brightly-colored board fills me with a sense of nostalgia. I also remember that learning how to play Candy Land was a snap, something you’re about to discover for yourself.
This article covers the Candy Land rules, so you’ll learn everything you need to know in order to open the box and start playing. I’ll also cover Candy Land strategy, or the lack thereof.
Candy Land Instructions
The Candy Land instruction have remained largely unchanged over the years. While the game has underwent marketing changes in regards to art and the names of in-game places and characters, the rules aren’t much different from what you remember as a child. The exception is the 2004 version, which started implementing changes to make the game move faster.
The classic version of Candy Land comes with a colorful game board that includes areas such as the Gumdrop Mountains, Molasses Swamp, and Peanut Brittle House. There are four playing pieces shaped like gingerbread men, as well as 64 cards.
In order to win, you’ll need to advance your gingerbread man across the board until you reach the Candy Castle. When this occurs, the game ends and players are encouraged to celebrate by eating some real-life candy (or possibly a more nutritious treat).
Candy Land Rules
According to the Candy Land rules, the game begins with each player selecting a gingerbread man playing piece and placing it on the space marked “start.” The deck of cards should be shuffled and placed face-down off the board but within easy reach of all players.
The youngest player gets to go first, with play moving to the left. On a player’s turn, they draw the top card from the face-down pile and move to the space indicated on the card (note that two player pieces can occupy the same space). Once this occurs, the player’s turn is over and the next player takes their turn. Drawn cards should be placed face-up to form a discard pile. There are three types of cards that can be drawn:
Picture Cards - If you draw a card with a picture on it, you must move your playing piece to the corresponding space on the board. This may result in your piece moving backwards.
One Color Block - If your card has one color block on it, move your game piece forward to the first space that matches the color.
Two Color Blocks - If your card has two color blocks on it, move your game piece forward to the second space that matches the color of the card.
In addition to game cards, you also need to be aware of shortcuts and penalty spaces. Shortcuts include Gumdrop Pass and Rainbow Trail, and landing on these spaces by exact count will allow you to take the provided shortcut.
Candy Land contains three penalty spaces labeled Gooey Gumdrops, Lollipop Woods, and Molasses Swamp. If you land on any of these spaces by exact count, you’ll be stuck there until you draw a card of a certain color.
In the 2004 version of the game, a number of changes were made. First, players can choose to ignore any cards that would send them backwards. Penalty spaces were also changed so that a player only misses one turn. Finally, a stick of gum icon was added that requires players to go back to the start.
Candy Land Strategy
If you’re searching for Candy Land strategy, prepare to be disappointed. Due to the completely random nature of the game, there are no tactics or strategies that can be employed. You simply draw a card and follow the instructions. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
There’s a good chance that you learned how to play Candy Land as a child. If you’re rediscovering it after many years, it’s probably because you now have kids of your own. You’ll be delighted to know that the game hasn’t changed much over time, so your little ones should get just as much glee out of the bright colors and tasty illustrations as you once did.