Posted in game, just for fun, specials

The Game of Fours and Eights

The virus has been around for more than a year now, and we still see no signs of a farewell. While it has locked us all in our homes and put a halt to all social events, it has certainly brought us closer to our families and opened doors to more fun activites.

And just the other day, I was playing a really fun board game with my family. I’ve been playing it with my grandparents since I were a kid. We call it Changa-Ashta, which translates to ‘Fours and Eights’.

Digging into a bit of history, the game derives its origins from the ancient Indian game of Pacchisi or Chaupar, which is also referenced in the epic Mahabharata. It is slightly similar to Ludo, which too originated from Chaupar. It is popular in different regions of India, although it is known by different names and has dozens of regional variations.

It’s easy to learn and really very fun to play. You don’t need to purchase anything from the market for the game, all of its components can be easily found at home.

And since the virus doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon, I thought I could share about the game with you all so that you could have hours of fun while you’re locked in your homes!

The Game

The game can be played by 2 to 4 players. More the players, more the fun. The players take turns to move their playing pieces forward till the finish box by the throw of cowries (more about it later). Also, you’ll learn the game real quick if you’ve ever played a game like Ludo.

The Board

The playing board can be easily sketched out on a piece of cardboard or chart paper or drawing sheet using a pen, crayon or brush. It is a 5×5 grid with crosses marked in the middle squares of the rows adjoining the edges and the very centre square, as you can see below.

My board. I made it on a piece of hard board using a white crayon.

The Die

Cowrie shells (or kaudi, in Hindi)

In this game, cowries are used as die. Four cowries are used. They are shuffled in hand and thrown, just like a normal dice. The number of inverted cowries determines the number of blocks to be moved by a player’s playing piece.

(If you are not able to find cowries in or near your house, you can also use pistachio shells as a substitute.)

The playing pieces

Playing pieces are a fun element of the game. You can use different types of grains, seeds, seashells, nut shells, coloured pieces of bangles, handmade tokens or basically anything you find around the house as playing pieces. You can also use plastic tokens that are used in other board games. The more creative, the better 😉. Each player will require four playing pieces.

Different playing pieces I’ve collected over the years- kidney beans, tamarind seeds, seashells, pieces of bangles

The Rules

Each player starts by placing his/her playing pieces in one of the cross marked boxes at the edges of the board, which becomes his/her ‘Home Square’.

The Home Squares

A player would have to race all four of his playing pieces to the ‘Winning Square’, which is the cross marked box in the centre, to win.

The Winning Square

The players have to follow a certain path to reach the Winning Square from their Home Square. They start from their Home Square and move in the right hand side direction, along the edge of the board. They finish a full path along the edges in an anticlockwise direction, till the square which is in the immediate left of their Home Square. Then they go straight into the Inner Ring and go in the clockwise direction till the square which is just above their Home Square. Then they go straight into the Winning Box. It might sound a bit complicated here, so I’ve illustrated the path below.

The path a player follows when he starts from the blue box as his Home Square

The players take turns to throw the cowries and move their pieces accordingly. You get an extra chance to throw cowries when you get a 4 or 8 (and hence the name), or when one of your playing pieces reaches the winning box.


If your piece lands on another player’s piece, you ‘kill’ the other player’s piece. The killed piece then goes back to the home square and starts over. And you get an extra chance. However, the playing pieces can’t be killed when they are in any of the cross marked boxes.


You can also ‘group’ your playing pieces. For example, if two of your own playing pieces land in the same square, you can group them together, although it’s optional. Thereby, the grouped pair would only move in factors of two. For instance, if the cowries show a 2, the grouped pair would only move 1 box (since there are two pieces). If it shows 4, the pair would move two boxes. Similarly, you can also group 3 or 4 playing pieces and move them accordingly.

You can break the groups at any time you want. You can also add pieces to or subtract pieces from the group. Another advantage you get by grouping your pieces is that a single piece cannot kill grouped pieces and vice versa. Nor can grouped pieces kill other grouped pieces. Only single pieces can kill single pieces.

Inner Ring

When you are in the Inner Ring and you see another piece approaching and you think that your piece could be killed, then you have the option of going around the Inner Ring again. This means that if you are waiting for a favourable number on the cowries so that you can go into the Winning Box and there’s an opponent piece coming to kill you, and you get a number that exceeds the winning number, then you can go round the Inner Ring again. You can do this as many times as you want before entering the Winning Square. However you can only enter the Winning Square through the box above your Home Square (as illustrated in the path diagram).


And that was it. That’s what the game’s all about. I hope I was able to get it across to you the right way. C’mon now! Don’t just sit there. At least try to draw a board. Search for some material. Maybe it isn’t as difficult as you think it is. No, this post wasn’t just for reading. It was for you to try something out, something new. Spend time with your family. This time isn’t coming back. You’ve got it in you! Try it out, play with your friends or family… and tell me if you had fun!

(P.S.: Have you ever played this game before? Or some variation of it? If you have, do tell me!)

© 2021 Oddball Thinks

10 thoughts on “The Game of Fours and Eights

  1. You covered all the rules and points just that perfectly!! It has become very clear to me now.. would surely try it someday! 🙂👏🏻👍🏻👌🏻😌

    Liked by 1 person

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