If you want a game that only requires a pen, pieces of paper, and five dice to play, then Yahtzee is the perfect one for you. Because of its simplicity, Yahtzee has become one of the most popular board games of all time, but don’t let its minimalist structure and simplistic mechanics fool you, as there is a lot of thinking and strategizing involved in playing the game.
To understand more about the complexity of Yahtzee, we must discuss how it is played and how a player can win the game. But first, let us take a look at the origins of Yahtzee and see how it evolved from a simple party game into an international hit.
Although there is no clear history pertaining to the birth of Yahtzee, many board game enthusiasts, including the one who applied for its trademark, believed that the game was invented by a Canadian couple who are friends with an entrepreneur named Edwin S. Lowe. The Canadian couple got the name “Yahtzee” from the word “yacht,” which is the vessel and location where they would usually play the game with friends.
Seeing the potential of Yahtzee to become a popular board game, Edwin S. Lowe asked the permission of the couple to give him the rights of the game in exchange for a thousand gift sets. The couple agreed, and Lowe eventually applied a trademark for Yahtzee on April 19, 1956, in the United States Patent Office.
During Yahtzee’s released in 1956, it did not sell well in toy stores and hobby shops because not many people are familiar with the game and would rather play the games with an established history like Monopoly. However, the game slowly became a hit when Lowe organized multiple parties wherein people can enjoy playing Yahtzee and let them experienced how fun it is to play. From 1956 to 1973, Lowe’s company was able to sell more than 40 million copies of Yahtzee. Lowe would eventually sell the rights of Yahtzee to Hasbro in 1973.
To play the game of Yahtzee, all you would need are five dices, a pen, and a piece of paper where a player would track the score during gameplay. Writing the scoresheet on a piece of paper can get complicated, so to make it simple, it is better to buy a retail version of Yahtzee.
In order for the players to choose who goes first, they would each roll all five dices. Whoever rolls the highest number will go first.
For each round, a player can roll the dice three times, but he or she can stop at the first or second roll. After rolling the dice for the first time, the player can keep one to five dice if he or she is satisfied with the outcomes, but if the player chooses to only keep four or less, he or she can roll the dice again. The objective of the game is to fill up the scoresheet for 13 rounds, and each round would require players to roll different outcomes or combinations on the dice. It is crucial to note that all players must first choose the category or box that they intend to fill up before rolling the dice, and if they are unable to get the right combination, then that player will receive 0 points for that category.
Here are all the combinations that players would need to roll during gameplay:
- Aces – count all the dice that indicate “1” (ex. if there are only three dice showing the number 1, then you will only get 3 points)
- Twos – count all the dice that indicate “2”
- Three – count all the dice that indicate “3”
- Fours – count all the dice that indicate “4”
- Fives – count all the dice that indicate “5”
- Sixes – count all the dice that indicate “6”
- Three Of A Kind – Add the total number of the three dice that have the same number with the other dice (ex. 3+3+3+4+6)
- Four Of A Kind – Add the total number of the four dice that have the same number with the other dice (ex. 2+2+2+2+5)
- Full House – Score 25 points if there are two dice that have the same number and three dice with the same number as well
- Small Straight – Score 30 points for four dice that have sequential numbers (ex. 1-2-3-4, 2-3-4-5, 3-4-5-6)
- Large Straight – Score 40 points for five dice that have sequential numbers (ex. 1-2-3-4-5, 2-3-4-5-6)
- Yahtzee – Score 50 points if all dice have the same number (ex. 1,1,1,1,1)
- Chance – add all the numbers in the dice regardless of their combination
In the upper section, if a player manages to get at least 63 points after completing all the boxes, then he or she will get a bonus of 35 points. In addition, if a player is able to get two or more Yahtzees on a roll, then he or she will receive 100 bonus points for each Yahtzee. However, that player needs to have a score of 50 on the Yahtzee category in order to score 100 points.
The player who manages to get the highest score after all players have accomplished scoring 13 categories wins the game.
Popular Editions and Variants
Along with the regular edition of Yahtzee, Hasbro and USAopoly have released different editions of variants that offer new looks as well as improved mechanics on the dice game.
If you don’t want to use dice or lose them whenever you’re playing outside or in a friend’s house while playing Yahtzee, then its electronic version may be the right alternative for you and your friends. The screen has five digital dice at the bottom where you will see the numbers on the dice once you roll them using the Roll/On button, then you can keep or hold one to five dice by pressing each of their Hold buttons at the middle of the device.
You can also select the category that you will be aiming to accomplish by using the Left and Right buttons, and you can keep the scores on the game as well by pressing the Sub-Total and Hi-Score buttons. But, if you want to play the electronic version with your friends, then you must purchase a pad of Yahtzee Score Cards to make the tallying for scores easier.
The Yahtzee To Go is a suitable version for Yahtzee fanatics who are always outside and on the go. This edition features five dice that you would see on the regular version, but it can be stored or rolled using the included cup that has a lid so you can store everything on it securely, from the dice down to all the scorecards. The only item missing on Yahtzee To Go is a pen, but you can buy one easily in any school and office supplies stores.
The Yahtzee National Parks Travel Edition is a cool variant of Yahtzee that features some of the most iconic landmarks and sights on the National Parks of the United States. The familiar icons, such as the canoe, the pine trees, the tent, the deer, and the hiker, are shown on the dice that comes in the package, and the scorecard has the National Park Foundation Logo printed on it. All of these items, including a small pencil, can be stored inside a special cup that has the Yahtzee National Parks logo.
Now that you know how to play Yahtzee, it may be time to buy one of these Yahtzee products and start teaching your friends or loved ones how to play it. A game of Yahtzee would only take 5-15 minutes to play, so you would have time to enjoy other board games during your party.