The game of Pachisi is played on a board in the shape of a cross, each arm being divided into three adjacent columns of eight squares. Three of the squares on each arm are highlighted with a cross or some other distinguishing mark - the middle square at the end of each arm plus the fourth square in from the end of the arm on either side. These squares are called "castles". The middle of the cross forms a large square called the Charkoni. Boards can be of any material although commonly these days, it is made from strong cloth, with the gaming pattern embroidered onto it.
Sixteen beehive shaped pieces are used, four in black, four in green, four in red and four in yellow. The element of chance is provided by 6 small cowry shells that, when thrown, indicate an amount according to the following rules: