A Simple Dice Game Provides Hours of Amusement

Fun with Farkle

Family and friends don’t need high-tech TV gaming gizmos to have an engaging evening of fun. Next time you have gaming fever and are tired of zapping bad guys, try a casual game of Farkle. You might wind up having Farkle nights on a regular basis.

Farkle is fun — and addictive — because it engages our brain on a primitive level. Dice games are an ancient diversion, and our brains are hardwired to count things. Farkle in particular appeals because it pits our sense of logic against our sense of greed. Logic tells you, “Don’t roll again,” but greed whispers at us, “Go ahead. See if you can score more points.”

Farkle is handed down to us from antiquity. Its origins are shrouded in mystery and speculation, and like most dice games it is considered a “mutant” because it is ever-changing and can be played in several different ways. But we do know that it was commonly played by the 18th century and was used as a way to teach math. Today it’s a fun, geeky game that involves thinking and strategy.

To play Farkle, all you need are six traditional (six-sided) dice, and a pencil and paper for keeping score. Farkle is played in rounds, and some rules state that to determine who goes first, each player rolls one die. The highest number is the first to play.

Generally speaking, each player must score at least 350 points (some versions call for 400, 500 or even 1,000) per round to get on the board. The scoring dice are (in a single roll): 100 points for a one spot and 50 points for a five spot. Three ones in one roll get you 1,000 points. Scoring gets a bit complicated from there, but we’ve put together a handy scoring chart to clip ’n’ save.

At the beginning of each round, the player throws all six dice. If none score, that player’s round has ended and he or she has “Farkled.” Scoring dice are set aside or “banked,” and the remaining dice are rolled until the minimum number of points is scored.

Once the minimum number of points is reached, the player can stop at that score or roll again for more scoring points. If the player elects to keep rolling the dice, he or she risks losing the accumulated points for that round.

Here’s where strategy comes into play. For example, say you have 400 points on the score sheet and you roll three one spots for 1,000 points. Not a bad roll, but you have three dice left. Do you stand down, or roll those three other dice? You could perhaps get more points, but you could also “Farkle” and lose your 1,000 points (leaving your 400 points unchanged). Then again, if you score on the remaining dice, you have “hot dice,” and get to roll again in that round. Keep in mind also that you can combine different ways of scoring.

Players keep rolling the dice until a player reaches 10,000 points. Once that happens, the final round begins, and each player in the last round gets to score as many points as he or she can. At the end, the one with the most points wins.

More information can be found online at farklerules.com.

Categories: Quick Reads