Dale Yu – Review of Mysterious Ladder

Mysterious Ladder

  • Designer: Jin JH Bang
  • Publisher: Korea Boardgames
  • Players: 2-4
  • Age: 7+
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Played with review copy provided by Korea Boardgames

mysterious ladder
Well, when I first got this game, I wasn’t quite sure what the title was – there weren’t any English subtitles anywhere on the box! From the art, it looked like there was a monkey who had climbed to the top of a mountain and grabbed a golden lemon! Once we found the translation online, we discovered that we were close…. The game is called Mysterious Ladder, and the monkeys are vying for the Golden Coconut, not a lemon!

It’s clear from the art that this is a kids game, and it’s sort of an advanced 3D version of Chutes and Ladders. The table presence is pretty cool, and it will probably take an adult to help set this up. You unfold a piece of cardboard to form the pyramidal mountain, and then you place the three concentric board rings around it at different levels. At the very top, you form the Coconut altar and secure the Golden Coconut to the top of the mountain.

mysterious ladder in play
Each player has their own monkey standee, and they all start at the bottom of the mountain to start the game. The game itself is a simple race – get to the top of the mountain first, claim the Golden Coconut and enjoy the spoils of victory!
On your turn, roll the d6 and move your standee around the track that you are on. There are arrows on each board to make sure that you are always moving in the correct clockwise direction. If you end your movement on the bottom of a ladder, you automatically climb up. Likewise, if you end your movement on the top of a waterfall, you automatically slide down to the lower level.

But wait, I don’t remember setting up any ladders or waterfalls at the start of the game! That’s right – but each turn, when you end your movement, look at the space where you ended your turn. If there is a Monkey King seen there, you can perform some Monkey Magic! There are four different options – and you choose which spell you want to use:

  • Install a Ladder or Waterfall (can be placed anywhere)
  • Remove a Ladder or Waterfall (from anywhere)
  • Move a Ladder or Waterfall
  • Flip a Ladder into a Waterfall or vice versa

The only other rule to know is that only one Monkey can ever be in a space on the board. If you end your movement on a space with another Monkey on it, you are allowed to displace that monkey one space forwards or backwards. If it lands on a ladder or waterfall, it moves accordingly and if it ends on a Monkey King space, that player gets to perform his own Monkey Magic!
The game continues until one player ends their movement on the finish space on the top level of the pyramid. That player takes the Golden Coconut and wins!

My thoughts on the game
This is clearly a game for younger kids, and it’s a step up from Chutes and Ladders. While it is certainly a roll and move game, there is an added level of complexity in the placement, movement and removal of the ladders/waterfalls. My first game was against Mark Jackson, and while he’s a well known lover of kids games, let’s say that two 40-somethings are just not the right target audience for this. When this got pulled out over the holidays with a younger child, it was well received. The art is whimsical and well suited to the elementary school crowd. I’ll admit that I don’t get the whole Golden Coconut thing, but the game has yet to fail with the excitement the winner gets by running around the room holding the victorious coconut aloft!
The game certainly looks nice on the table with the multiple levels, and the reversible ladder/waterfall pieces are nice. They nicely click into place on the board, so it’s pretty difficult to accidentally dislodge them. If you have a youngster at home, this could be a good way to introduce a few advanced gaming elements to the roll and move games you hope your kids will soon outgrow… The age limit on the box seems appropriate as the child will have to do a bit of thinking through the four different Monkey Magic options though the majority of the action in the game is simple roll and move.
At the time being, the game does not yet have full distribution here in the US, but Korea Board Games is on the lookout for a partner to bring this kids game to the market.
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
This entry was posted in Essen 2021, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Dale Yu – Review of Mysterious Ladder

  1. Louisa says:

    Twice you refer to it as a ‘roll and write’ game. As there doesn’t seem to be any writing anywhere, I presume you mean roll and move?

  2. Would really like to find this game for Mrs RMN and her students. Have been keeping an eye on Korea Boardgame since FOUR GARDENS. Some US publisher is leaving money if they skip teaming with them. Sure, component cost is a bit higher but the games are entertaining to match.

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