25 - 50
# Aztec
# South america
# Luck
# race game
# Gambling
# Capture

How to set-up

1. Patolli is played on an X-shaped board with a centre block and four arms.

2. Patolli requires 5 throwing beans. A single die can be used with the roll indicating the number of spaces a BEAD can move. A roll of 5 allows a BEAD to move 10 spaces.

3. Each player selects 6 BEADs the colour of their choice. All BEADs start off the board.

4. Players select 8 BEADs of a second colour as points BEADs.

5. Players decide who begins the game by rolling a die.

How to play

1. To start, each player has 5 tries to roll a 1. If they cannot roll a 1, their turn ends and they must give 1 point BEAD to their opponent.

2. When a player rolls their first 1, a BEAD can be placed on the board on a space at the top of the arm closets to the player.

3. BEADs move clockwise around the board.

4. Once a player has a BEAD in play, the player only has 1 roll per turn and can choose to move the BEAD or, if they roll another 1, start a new BEAD.

5. Only 1 BEAD can be moved each turn and the BEAD must use the full count of the die. If a player cannot move a BEAD, they forfeit their turn and 1 point BEAD to their opponent.

6. BEADs cannot land on a square already occupied.

7. Players must roll an exact number to land on the space they started on, and the BEAD is considered to have completed the board.

8. If a player lands on either of the 2 spaces at the end of each arm, the player can take another turn.

9. If a player lands on any of the 4 spaces on each arm marked with a triangle, the player must give their opponent 1 point BEAD.

10. If a player lands on an opponent’s BEAD while on the centre block, the BEAD is captured, removed from the board must start again with a roll of a 1.

How to win

1. To win a round a player must be the first to move all their BEADs around the board winning 1 point BEAD from their opponent.

2. To win the game, a player must win all their opponent’s point BEADs.


1. Patolli is an ancient Aztec board game that takes its name from the Aztec word for bean - patolli, which means kidney bean or fava.

2. Patolli or variants of it was played by a wide range of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures and known all over Mesoamerica: the Teotihuacanos played it, as well as the Toltecs, the inhabitants of Chichen Itza, the Aztecs, and all of the people they conquered (practically all of Mesoamerica).

3. It was a game of strategy and luck, and very much a game of both the common people and nobles alike.

4. Players would meet and inspect the items each other had available to gamble. They would bet blankets, maguey plants, precious stones, gold adornments, food or just about anything. In extreme cases, they would even bet their homes and sometimes their family and freedom.