Players try to move their grasshoppers across the board to their opponent's corner while simultaneously stopping their opponent from doing the same. A random tile layout makes the board different each time you play.
Your grasshoppers have hidden numbers 1-9 and the more you can get to the opposite corner, the better your score. The hoppers move 1, 2, or 3 spaces, depending if they jump from a water space, a flower or a leaf. The hoppers move forward to empty spaces, but can jump backwards if they are taking an opponents' piece. Captured pieces are also worth 1 pt each.
When the board is laid out, the players sit at opposing corners, so the hoppers move orthogonally on the board, but diagonally to the players' view. This can distract you such that you don't quite recognize when a capture might happen.
One of the best features of Subulata is that one hopper may threaten other hoppers without being at risk itself. This allows you to build an attack from which there is no defense. As the game opens, you might choose to move to attack, or try to slip by safely. But that leaves your home free to be occupied. Choices, choices!