Game designed by Alex Randolph
Published in Germany by Blatz
These comments by Steffan O'Sullivan
This page last updated August 7, 1997

Würmeln is a very quick and fun game. Even though it's made in Germany, it's still less than $20 in the U.S.A., and highly recommended. Basically, it's worm racing.

Würmeln is for three to five players, but we also play with two - I'll tell you how in a bit. A worm consists of seven hemispheres of the same color. Line them up at the starting line so that they're all touching, spread out behind the lead one, and you're ready to play.

Each player has a special die marked 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, X. The dice are not rolled, however, but used to set your speed each turn. Everyone chooses a number secretly, and all are revealed at once. If your choice is unique, you will move that many segments this turn. If two or more dice show the same number, however, no one showing that number may move. Movement is from lowest unique number to highest number, in order.

To move, simply remove the number of segments (equal to your die choice) from the back of the worm and add them to the front. There are rules about squirming the worm, but basically the game is very simple. If you've successfully gotten a "7" or "X", you may not rebid that choice on your next turn.

The "X" on the die is special. If you have the only "X" showing, you select any number between 3 and 7 that is not already taken by another worm. You also may move one of the goal posts! Put your finger on one post, and move the other as you like. (They are connected by a stiff piece of cardboard, so you can only rotate it, not stretch or shrink it.) To win, you have to be the first worm with a segment between the goal posts - in the direction the word reads.

One question that isn't answered in the rules, as far as I can tell, is: do you have to cross the finish line or can the finish line cross you? That is, if I roll an "X" successfully, and move my worm fairly close to the finish line, can I then rotate the finish line so that my worm ends up having crossed it? We ruled "No" on this, stating that a worm has to cross the finish line under its own power. But I admit it's a house ruling.

That's it - very fast, fun, and light.


  • Two-player Würmeln: one player takes the "hot" colors, red and yellow, and the other takes the "cool" colors, blue and green. Each sets both dice before revealing. We also use one of the variants below.

  • With less than five players: As the rules are written, the game is frankly best with five players. With fewer, there is less likelihood of choosing the same number as another player, and it becomes a much tamer game. But by using one of the following variants, the game becomes quite exciting with two, three, or four players. Note that in all of these variants the unused worm isn't actually placed on the board - only the dice from the unused colors.

    1. No luck: with two or four players, set the unused die to a "3" on the table, leaving it that way the whole game to remind players that no one may choose a "3" this game. With three players, set the two unused dice on the table, one at "3" and the other at "4". Anyone foolish enough to choose one of those numbers doesn't move. A player who chooses an "X" may not move that amount, either. [Note: I have thought of, but haven't tried, experimenting with other numbers. A "5" in the two- or four-player game sounds interesting, while a "4" and "6" in the three-player game would make the differences between allowable speeds greater - this might make the game better or worse, I'm not sure.]
    2. Minimal luck: before players set their dice for a turn, roll the extra di(c)e. The resulting number(s) may not be chosen by a player. When playing with three players, reroll one of the dice if they come up the same number - you should have two different numbers you may not select.
    3. A bit more luck: roll the extra di(c)e after players have selected their numbers for the turn! Anyone whose number matches a rolled result doesn't move that turn. In this case, don't reroll one of the dice with three players - what you get, is what you get.

Live Action Würmeln!

Yes, you too can be part of the madness! Recommended for conventions and other large gatherings of lightheaded loonies. I haven't tried this yet, but it was suggested to me by Paul Evans, and I said, "Sounds great!" (Paul is the editor of the UK gaming magazine, Games Games Games - check it out! This is the best URL I could find for it, but the Game Cabinet also has something on the magazine.)

You need at least 36 people to do this - 35 players and one referee. If you have more, you can assign assistant referees, goal post movers, official die setters for each team, etc.

  1. Assemble teams. Each team should have seven players. The referee should line up the teams next to each other. The referee should make adjustments to allow for different arm spans - the teams should all have roughly equal lengths, when all seven players are stretched out in a straight line, holding hands. Distribute children and basketball players as equally as possible amongst the teams, etc.
  2. Set up the course. The course should be ~3.5 times the length of the average stretched-out team. The two goalposts should be joined with a pole, rope or something similar, with a sign labelled "This way in," or some such.
  3. Line the teams up at the starting line, and give the "head" of each team (the person in front) a die. At this point, the team members should memorize their relative order - it shouldn't change throughout the game. (That is, the position of head will change, but not who you are behind and in front of.) The head is considered to be behind the tail for order at this point.
  4. Each head selects their number, and signals the referee when ready.
  5. The referee looks at each team's die, writing down the choices. Best to have a pad of paper ready, with boxes on it, five columns and lots of rows for turns. When he's recorded all the die results, he loudly announces the order of movement.
  6. Teams move in the order stated by the referee, which are simply lowest unique number to highest unique number. The required number of segments breaks off from the tail and charges forward, the tail holding hands with the previous head. Unless a seven was selected, or the team doesn't move at all, there should now be a new head and tail. Decisions about which direction to go, squirming, etc., are made by the new head, not the one that set the die. (Of course, they're the same person if the team moves seven.)
  7. To move seven, best to move six first, with the tail joining hands with the head, then finally move the head alone last.
  8. You may not break another worm's line, nor crawl under them. If two worms have come together in front of you, so that they are touching feet at some point, you may not move by them. Of course, squirming the worm is still allowed before movement, so a team will probably be able to move if desired.
  9. If an "X" has been successfully selected, the new head chooses how the goal posts should move. If there are no assistant referees to move the goal posts, the new head should dispatch the tailmost two members of his team to move it, loudly shouting orders to them, after which they rejoin the worm.
  10. The new head sets the die for the next turn. If a team fails to move, the die is passed back one person, who decides the number for the next turn. A worm may temporarily break hands in order to set the die in this case.
  11. Since each turn will likely have new players choosing speeds, the teams may always review the previous bidding. Hence, the referee's pad of recorded bids for each team . . .
  12. If you have enough players that each team has a separate die setter who is not part of the worm, this player may be voted out of the position by the worm. At least four worm members must agree who is to swap places with the die setter, and the old die setter takes that person's place in the worm.
  13. The first team to get one person through the goal post wins - the referee is the final arbiter on whether or not a person is considered through the goalpost.

NOTE: After reading the above, Brian Bankler (bankler@rtp.ericsson.se) wrote me:

I don't know about Live Action, but we've always considered getting some cones and rope (for a finish line), 35 tupperware dishes (of 5 colors) and 5 sets of those round things on springs (to denote worm heads) and playing on a lawn or quad.
To which I reply:

This sounds like a lot of fun! You could play with a lot less people that way, too. I'll have to try it myself sometime - thanks for the idea.

AND Kevin McGowan (kmdibble@aol.com) suggests making simple hats from the appropriate colored cloth for team identification (and morale, I'm sure!). Excellent idea! He also suggest making up large cards instead of using dice so teams can flip them up simultaneously and be seen from a distance away.

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