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Madagascar (2005) Board Game: Rules for How to Play

Madagascar (2005) Board Game: Rules for How to Play

Looking for a specific Madagascar Board Game rule?  |  Setup  |  Playing the Game  |  Moving a Fossa Pawn  |  Taking an Action  |  Cards  |  Winning the Game  |  FAQ  |  Components  |


The objective of the Madagascar Board Game is to be the first player to reach the Penguin’s rescue boat.


  • Apply one label to each side of the Fossa die.
  • Place one of the character pawns into each of the clear plastic pawn stands. Each player chooses which pawn they want to use in the game. Place each pawn on the start space. Any unused character pawns are set aside as you won’t use them in the game.
  • Attach one red plastic stand to each red Fossa pawn. Do the same with the green Fossa pawns and stands.
  • Place three red Fossa pawns on each red start space. Place two green Fossa pawns on each green start space. If you would like to make the game easier, you should only place one red Fossa on each red start space and one green Fossa on each green start space.
  • Shuffle all of the cards and deal four cards facedown to each player. You may look at your own cards, but you shouldn’t show them to the other players. Place the rest of the cards facedown on the ocean area of the board.
  • The youngest player starts the game. Play move clockwise/left throughout the game.
Setting up the game board

How to Play the Madagascar Board Game

On each of your turns you will take two actions.

  1. Move a Fossa Pawn
  2. Take an Action to Move Your Character Pawn

After you have taken both actions, your turn ends. Play passes to the next player in a clockwise direction.

Moving a Fossa Pawn

You will begin each of your turns by rolling the die. The number and color you roll on the die determines how you will move one of the Fossa pawns.

If you roll one of the 0 sides on the die, you will take no action during this phase of your turn.

Otherwise you will look for a Fossa that matches the color of the side that you rolled. You will move the Fossa pawn you choose up to the number you rolled. You do not need to use all of the spaces that you rolled. When moving a Fossa pawn you will move it to adjacent spaces. You may never move the pawn to one of the Fossa start spaces though. While moving the pawn you may pass through spaces that have character pawns or other Fossa pawns on it. A Fossa pawn may never land a space that has another Fossa pawn on it though.

Moving a Fossa pawn
The current player rolled a four green on the die. They will choose one of the green Fossa pawns and move it up to four spaces. The player choose to move one of the pawns up three spaces.

Should a Fossa pawn land on a space that has another player’s character pawn on it, that player is under attack. When you are under attack, you may not move your pawn off its current space until it is no longer under attack.

Player under attack from a Fossa pawn
The Marty (zebra) token shares a space with a Fossa pawn. The Marty player is currently under attack. They won’t be able to move their playing piece until they resolve the conflict.

Escaping a Fossa Pawn

To escape from being attacked you have two options.

First should you roll the color matching the Fossa on your space, you can use your roll to move the pawn off your current space. You are now free and can move on the second phase of your turn.

Otherwise you can play an Escape card. Once you play the card, you can move off of your current space.

Escaping an attack
The Marty pawn is currently being attacked. There are two ways they can escape. First they can roll one of the red sides of the dice as shown. They can then move the Fossa pawn off their current space. Otherwise the player could play an Escape card and move their own playing piece one space.

Taking an Action to Move Your Character Pawn

After you move one of the Fossa pawns, you will choose which action you want to take this turn. You can choose from a couple of different actions to take on your turn. You may only take one of these actions on your turn.

Your first option is to move your character to any adjacent space on the board. Should you choose this option, you only get to move your pawn one space. You must follow the movement rules listed below.

Moving a character pawn
The Alex (lion) player chose to use their turn to move their pawn down one space.

Next you can play one of the cards from your hand. You will take the action corresponding to the card you choose to play. See the Cards section below for more details on what each card does.

Playing a card
The current player has decided to play a Move 3 card on their turn. They will move their character pawn three spaces.

Finally you can choose to trade in some of your cards. If you choose to take this action you will choose up to three of the cards from your hand. You will add the cards you chose to the discard pile. You will then draw the corresponding number of cards from the draw pile and add them to your hand.

Rules for Movement

While moving your character pawn, you must follow these rules:

When moving you will move to an adjacent space. You can pass through or land on any open space except for Fossa start spaces.

When you move your character pawn you can pass through or land on a space that is occupied by another player’s character pawn. You may not move through or land on a space that has a Fossa pawn on it. If you do, your pawn will be under attack. See the rules above for how to escape once you are under attack.

Moving after playing a movement card
The Gloria (hippo) player played the Move 3 card. They will move their pawn three spaces. First they move their pawn down one space onto the space Melman (giraffe) is on. Then they can either move down and to the left or right. They can’t move onto the space that has the red Fossa pawn on it.

Cards of Madagascar Board Game

When you play a card, you will read off the directions on the card, and take the corresponding action. You will then place the card in the discard pile. Draw a new card to replace the card that you played.

You can only draw new cards at the end of your own turn. If you play Cancel cards on another player’s turn, you won’t draw a new card to replace it until the end of your next turn.

If the draw pile ever runs out of cards, you will shuffle the discard pile to create a new draw pile.

Move cards


A Move card allows you to move your character pawn the corresponding number of spaces. Some Move cards are for two spaces while others are for three spaces. You must use all of the spaces printed on the card.

These cards can be blocked with a Cancel card.

Special Move card

Special Move

When you play this card, you will move your character pawn three spaces. What is unique about this card is that it cannot be blocked with a Cancel card.

Escape card


When you play an Escape card you can move even if you are currently under attack. You should use the card to move away from the Fossa pawn that is on your current space.

Cancel card


The Cancel card is used to block cards played by other players. You can play these cards on your own turn, or on other players’ turns.

If another player plays a Move or Escape card and you want to prevent its effect from being applied, you can play a Cancel card to block it. The player will then not take the action corresponding to the card that they played.

Using a Cancel card against an Escape card
One of the players used an Escape card to try and move on their turn. One of the other players played a Cancel card. This prevents the other player from escaping on their turn.

You can also play a Cancel card against another Cancel card. This blocks the effect of the first Cancel card. For example you play an Escape card and then another player plays a Cancel card. If you then play your own Cancel card, you will still be able to take the effect of the Escape card. Players can keep playing Cancel cards. Whoever plays the last Cancel card has their effect take place.

Using a Cancel card on another Cancel card
The current player’s Escape card was blocked by one of the other players playing a Cancel card. The current player then plays their own Cancel card to block the first Cancel card. They will now be able to use the Escape card unless another Cancel card is played.

Winning the Game

The first player to reach the Penguin’s rescue boat wins the game. The game does not say whether you need to reach the space by exact count.

Winning the Madagascar Board Game
This player has reached the rescue boat at the bottom of the board. They have won the game.

Madagascar Board Game FAQ

If you have any questions about how to play the game, leave a comment below on this post. I will try to answer any questions asked as best and as quickly as possible.

Components for Madagascar Board Game


  • Gameboard
  • 4 Character Pawns
  • 12 Fossa Pawns
  • 54 Cards
    • 14 Cancel Cards
    • 14 Escape Cards
    • 12 Move 2 Cards
    • 12 Move 3 Cards
    • 2 Special Move Cards
  • 16 Plastic Pawn Stands
  • Fossa Die
  • Instructions

Year: 2005 | Publisher: Hasbro, Milton Bradley

Genres: Children’s, Roll and Move

Ages: 6+ | Number of Players: 2-4 | Length of Game: 30 minutes

Difficulty: Light | Strategy: Light | Luck: High

For more board and card game rules/how to plays, check out our complete alphabetical list of card and board game rules posts.