Use your BACK button (or click the Home link above) to return to our home page.

How to play Arbles!

Gaye's brother Leigh and father Skip playing Arbles, January 2006

How to play "Arbles"
A.K.A. "Mousetrap," ;"Marbles," or "Yarbles"
A game for 2-4 players

Written by Gaye Bullock, after consultation with many family members!


Place 4 marbles of one color in the 4 matching color square-of-holes (start) for each player. For two players, use diagonal opposite corners of the board.

To begin; each player rolls the die; the player with the highest roll gets to go first. Players proceed taking turns in a clockwise fashion. A roll of 1, or 6 (or a 2 used as a 1 or 6) is required to move a marble from the start square to the hole of the same color in the rest of the game board. Marbles move around the board, clockwise, until all 4 marbles are in the home line.

First player with all four marbles in the 4 home holes wins!

Die Roll = Action:
1 = Move (and say) "Man Out"* (one marble out) of a start hole, or move forward 1 space and say "One cog."
2 = Move forward 1, 2, 3, 4 (backward only), 5 or 6. Say: "Deucey Wild!" ("Roll again", if 6 is chosen.)
3 = Move forward 3 spaces.
4 = Move BACKWARD 4 spaces! (unless in a "safe" home hole OR in center short-cut hole.)
5 = Move forward 5 spaces.
6 = Move a "Man Out," or move forward 6 spaces AND (say) "Roll again!"

Marbles of the same color may not jump over or on themselves! If one players' marble lands on anothers', the second marble is sent "home," to begin again (as in "Sorry"). When this occurs, you may sing: "Down, down, down marble went; back, back, back is where it's sent!" Then act like you screw the marble into one of it's starting holes! In a back-up 4, the marble that is backing up sends marbles of other colors home, even if they are not landed on. (Remember, you may not back up over your own color marble.) You may not move backward INTO home! IF YOU CAN MAKE A MOVE, YOU MUST! If no moves are possible, play proceeds to the next person unless a 6 was rolled and unable to move on. In this case, the player doesn't move, but rolls again. As the first marble comes all the way in home, you may say (as you pet the marble in it's hole) "One in a row... one in a row..." and so on, as the second marble comes all the way in; and the third (as in "Three in a row"... As I recall, it's pronounced; "thwee in a woe, thwee in a woe...!" while stroking all three marbles...) Once a player has a marble in one of the line of 4 home holes, the marble is "safe" and doesn't have to back up if a 4 is rolled. Because you may not jump your own man, if your 4 marbles are close to home, it may not be easy to move them in; you may end up needing to roll several "ones" to move all four marbles safely in. In this case another player may say "Jammin at the gate!"

Entering and Exiting the Center Short-Cut Hole:
Players may only enter the center short-cut from the hole outside it with the matching color dots, which is 6 holes from the same color "Man-Out" hole. If this short-cut is passed, player must proceed around the entire board and surely someone must say "All the way 'round Robin Hood's barn!" as they go! When a player chooses to land in the center short-cut, it is traditional to tap the said marble and say, in a teasing, song chant: "Mousetrap, mousetrap, mousetrap!" (or as Bill Craig says: "Mousey, mousey, mousey!") BECAUSE: TO GET OUT OF THE CENTER SHORT-CUT, player must roll a 1 (or a 2 used as a1) which can take some time, so use with caution!

*Of course all the "sayings" come from our remembrances of what Coy (Granddaddy) Craig would say when he played with us. Thanks go to Bill and Beverly Craig, Skip, Leigh and Petey (Bonnie) Waltz for helping with all the sayings! With love, Gaye (Waltz) Bullock :)