Here are some of the most intriguing Yahtzee board game variants. Check them out!
February 3, 2023
Do you have a passion for Yahtzee? If you’re a hardcore fan, you probably never get sick of playing this wildly entertaining diversion. After all, very few gaming experiences can rival the thrill of rolling a Yahtzee (by the way, if you need a refresher on how to play, read the rules on La Salle University website or check them out on Hasbro’s site).
I love when this happens because it gives me an excuse to suddenly jump up and maniacally scream that I just got the most coveted scoring combo in the entire game. This is not only fun to do but also remarkably cathartic. If you don’t believe me, give it a try by playing free Yahtzee online with up to 5 friends.
If you have as much zeal for the game as I do, you might be looking for new and exciting variations to try. If so, you’ve come to the right place!
A Brief History of the Game
You can trace Yahtzee’s origins all the way back to traditional dice games such as the German game Kniffel and the English games of Poker Dice and Cheerio.
However, the most immediate predecessor to Yahtzee is Yacht, invented around 1938 by an anonymous Canadian couple. They called it Yacht because they played it on their larger-than-average boat.
So many friends enjoyed the game that the couple asked toy entrepreneur E.S. Lowe if he could manufacture game sets they could give to their buddies.
Lowe immediately grasped the commercial possibilities of such a simple yet entertaining concept. That’s why he asked if he could acquire the rights to Yahtzee in exchange for 1,000 gift sets. Lowe was over the moon when the duo said “yes.”
He debuted Yahtzee as an official part of his product line on April 3, 1956. A few weeks later, Lowe filed a trademark with the U.S. Patent Office.
Initially, the game didn’t do well because the company’s marketing department found it impossible to convey its appeal in an advertisement. To solve this dilemma, Lowe came up with the idea of organizing Yahtzee parties to boost the game’s organic reach.
When Lowe oversaw the company, over 40 million Yahtzee games were sold worldwide. In 1973, Milton Bradley (which has since been acquired by Hasbro) purchased the company and took over the manufacturing rights.
And now, it’s the best-selling dice game of all time. You can find digital versions on gaming consoles, personal computers, and smartphones.
You can even play it online! For more, check out the history of Yahtzee on Wikipedia.
Why So Many Yahtzee Variations?
There are a dizzying number of different spins on the classic game because of its incredible popularity. While many Yahtzee fans start by playing the standard version, they soon find themselves looking for new and exciting ways to enjoy their favorite pastime.
Even games can reach rockstar status. When they do, they create a rabid fan base of players looking to amp up the excitement any way they can.
One of the best ways to do this is by creating brand-new versions of the game, which is what happened with Yahtzee. Every couple of years or so, new commercially available variants appear.
Hardcore Yahtzee addicts are constantly coming up with their own ways to play. The game is endlessly customizable too. For example, you can play with your own rules or scoring systems.
The game has been converted into every conceivable format, from a board game to a mobile app to an online diversion. There’s even a Yahtzee arcade machine with certification stating that it’s approved for use in New Jersey as an amusement game.
Each new iteration brings brand-new features and modes that appeal to different game preferences and styles. If you’d like some tips and tricks to help you become a better player no matter which variant you play, check out this article.
The Rise of the Yahtzee Variants
Did you know that there’s actually an underground game scene? I didn’t either. However, according to some reports, the very first Yahtzee variants arose from it.
This is a network of gamers so obsessed with old-school games that they spend all their waking hours trying to put a brand-new spin on them. While no variant springing from the fertile minds of these passionate fans has ever become an officially licensed product, many are still popular.
When the ES Lowe company (the company that first made the game commercially available) realized that there was a huge fan base hungry for alternatives to the original game, it launched a hush-hush, highly covert R&D operation in the 60s to see what they could come up with.
That’s right—a game manufacturer operated with such a high level of secrecy it made cloak-and-dagger men jealous!
Commercially Available Variants
1. Triple Yahtzee
Triple Yahtzee was the first commercially available variant. Essentially, you’re playing three games of Yahtzee at once, which is perfect if you’re a consummate multitasker.
Add your score for each of the thirteen Yahtzee categories in columns marked “One,” “Two,” and “Three”—one column for each of the three games. You get a bonus chip for any Yahtzees you snag after the first one, and each chip is worth 100 points.
When totaling the scores for all three columns, double them in the second and triple them in the third. Then, add this amount to the total of the first column to get your grand total.
2. Challenge Yahtzee
As part of its research, new corporate overload Milton Bradley (taking over from E.S. Lowe) discovered that some Yahtzee devotees were looking for a quicker way to play their favorite game. To make them happy, the company released Challenge Yahtzee in 1974.
This variant benefited from a massive marketing blitz featuring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, stars of the hit television show, “The Odd Couple.” It’s the only Yahtzee game to receive a celebrity endorsement.
Each player gets a score sheet and five small dice, which are never rolled–only used as markers. Instead, a set of large dice is rolled.
Choose someone to be the dice roller. A roll is replicated by each player with their own set of dice. Each player decides which dice to keep and which they want rerolled.
The player doing the rolling rolls the number of dice needed by the player with the least amount. For example, let’s say player one has three dice.
Player two has two, and player three has one. In that case, the roller rolls two dice and keeps rolling until a player has five dice in their tray. When this happens, the round ends.
After 13 rounds, the player with the highest score wins.
3. Word Yahtzee
In 1978, Yahtzee received yet another makeover. The manufacturer revamped the game to give Parker Brothers, who invented Boggle a few years earlier, a run for their money. Because Boggle successfully captured the imaginations of the game-playing public, Milton Bradley wanted to steal some of their competitor’s thunder.
To do that, they combined Yahtzee with Scribbage, a word-based dice game created by E.S. Lowe in 1959. The difference between regular Yahtzee and Word Yahtzee is that the latter uses lettered dice with subscripts indicating the score for each letter—just like in Scrabble.
As with regular Yahtzee, the scorecard has an upper and lower section. Players roll seven dice to form words.
While the first two commercially available variants didn’t veer too far from the original’s gameplay, Word Yahtzee did. However, this deviation upset the Yahtzee purists, who hated that numbers were no longer a part of the game.
4. Jackpot Yahtzee
Jackpot Yahtzee was an intriguing hybrid of the original game and Connect Four, a massively popular 70s-era game. Instead of numbers, dice are labeled with slot machine symbols, and players drop tiles into a rack.
Players roll dice to earn tiles. They receive points if they can form diagonal or horizontal rows (just like in Connect Four).
While some fans loved this reinvention of a beloved classic, it angered others. That’s because they felt that Connect Four was only combined with Yahtzee to cash in on the former’s growing popularity.
5. Casino Yahtzee
Casino Yahtzee, a game that came out in 1986, wasn’t much like a casino game at all, despite its name. It was more like Bingo, another game that sprang from the mind of E.S. Lowe.
Players roll the dice and mark the numbers that come up on a 51-space game board. Points are scored once a row, column, or diagonal is completed.
There are two different number sets on each player’s game board. Colored spaces coincide with colored dice, the numbers you’re trying to get. White spaces are for keeping track of the score. The arrows on each white space point to ones that need to be covered to earn points.
Each player rolls five dice. They can roll all five dice simultaneously, one die five times, or any combination that adds up to five.
After players roll the dice, they check their gameboard to see if the combination is claimed. If it isn’t, they place a black chip on the number.
After each player finishes a turn, it’s time for the bonus round. Players again roll five dice. If each dice has a different number, the player has successfully completed the round and writes the dice total on the scorepad.
If a player not only rolls a different number on each die but the numbers are also in sequential order, they get a rainbow bonus, which doubles the score. The game ends when all board spaces have been filled in.
6. Showdown Yahtzee
Showdown Yahtzee debuted in 1991 and combines elements of board games like Monopoly with the original game. Players move game pieces around a board in an attempt to gain control of open spaces.
When a player lands on an open space, they roll the dice to try to complete a scoring combination. If successful, they place the card for that combination on the space along with a designated number of chips.
The number of chips placed is based on the card’s value, and each chip worth ten points. If another player lands on the space, they can snatch it away by exceeding or matching what was rolled.
Yahtzees are the wild cards of the game. If you’re lucky enough to roll one, you can claim any space on the entire board. The game ends with a showdown, where players get the chance to pilfer cards from each other.
7. Yahtzee Texas Hold ‘Em
Yahtzee Texas Hold’em, released in 2005, is a blend of two different games: Yahtzee and Texas Hold’em Poker. It was created to capitalize on the Texas Hold’em craze that was happening around that time.
Yahtzee incorporates elements of Poker with scoring combinations such as full houses, straights, and three-of-a-kinds. Yahtzee Texas Hold’em introduced brand-new sequences to the game, such as two-pairs, straight flushes, and Yahtzee flushes.
Just like with Challenge Yahtzee, there’s a set of dice common to all players and a set for each player. Each player rolls two of their dice and keeps them hidden from others.
The five dice shared by all players are rolled. Players make the best five-dice combination out of the seven dice rolled. The winner is the player with the best combination.
Unofficial Game Variants
Besides the official variants, there are a ton of unofficial ones. Here are some of them:
9. Li’l Bit Extra Yahtzee
For this version, add one extra die to the mix. The rules are the same, except you leave out one die from the final score.
10. Yahtzee In-Sequence
If you’re a completist, you’ll love this version. That’s because you must finish all rows in sequential order and can only move to a new row after completing the previous one. For example, you can’t finish the “twos” until completing the “ones” first.
Here’s another way to play Yahtzee in sequence: in the standard version, you can fill in any row on the entire game sheet, whether it’s in the upper or lower section. However, in this version, you must complete the upper section before completing the lower one.
11. The Great Yahtzee Swap
In this variant, everyone gets their own set of dice. After rolling, keep them from the prying eyes of other players by hiding them under a cup. Swap two dice with the player to the left of you. Keep the dice you want and reroll the rest.
12. Deviating Dice Yahtzee
This variant requires four standard dice and one die you distinguish from the others, whether it’s a different color, size, or has special markings. If you don’t have a die laying around that meets these requirements, no worries! Put a distinguishing mark on one of the regular dice.
Roll all the dice, including the special one. While you only use this dice on your first roll, you must include it when scoring.
Where Did Yahtzee Board Game Come From?
January 11, 2023
Yahtzee is a game with a long history.
The invention of the game itself is relatively recent—the first mass-marketed Yahtzee set was released in 1956. Since then, toy manufacturers have been churning out a steady supply of updated and redesigned products. But Yahtzee’s origin is more ancient, with some researchers believing that the game has a much longer history, with a board game pedigree stretching back thousands of years!
Yahtzee is a dice game that has been around for generations. It’s still one of the most popular games in the world up to now. Maybe it’s because, aside from being fun, there are many skills learned from Yahtzee.
The game started as a tabletop game and developed into something more portable with travel sets, then into handheld electronics, then personal computers and smartphones. It’s been through all of these changes, but its spirit has always remained constant at its core. This is why Yahtzee is so beloved by so many people today.
The design of Yahtzee’s scorecards, dice shaker, and packaging have undergone many updates over the years. From its tabletop beginnings to travel sets to handheld electronics to personal computers and smartphones—but the spirit of the game always remains constant: simple elegance mixed with a bit of humor. However, the Yahtzee rules have several variations developed over time.
The invention of Yahtzee may be lost to history, but it’s not hard to imagine a time when the dice were invented.
Throughout history, dice games have been used as tools for gambling, entertainment, and even as a form of currency. Many ancient civilizations also used dice games as tools for learning probability theory.
The most famous example is the idea of probability theory, which is based on the possibility of by rolling dice repeatedly. This led to game theory: a way of thinking about how different strategies will affect a player’s success when playing against another player.
The usages of dice aren’t a modern invention, making it challenging to pinpoint their exact ancestry. According to archeological data, the six-faced cubes were hand-crafted improvements to proto-dice game pieces. These items are made from the knucklebones of sheep or goats.
The astragalus, one of the bones in the ankle, was used by prehistoric peoples to produce random numbers for amusement and financial gain. The four sides of the bones, which could only land on one of them, were frequently imprinted with numerals, exactly like contemporary dice.
The game of Yahtzee is thought to have originated in ancient Tibet, where it was known as Ya-Tsee. The game’s origins are unknown, but there are many theories on how it came to be. One theory suggests that it was popularized by traders who traveled through the Himalayan mountains, bringing their game with them. Another theory states that it was created by monks who would play the game to pass the time while meditating during religious ceremonies.
Although its origins are murky, we know that the game of Yahtzee has been played for thousands of years in Tibet and other parts of the Himalayan region. It is believed that at some point in history, players began using dice made from sheep or yak bones instead of wooden ones. Yak bones were easier for players to transport between without worrying about breaking their dice or losing them along the way.
In 1942, the Leister game company had a big idea: to make their own version of the Yahtzee. During this time, the rules of Yahtzee were refined, and the scoring system was established.
Here are some ways the Yahtzee Board Game teaches you everyday Math skills
December 21, 2022
Most video games teach you things like hand-eye coordination, storytelling, and cooperation skills. For board games, the benefits can be more practical. Yahtzee, for example, can be used to teach everyday math skills to kids and adults. Unlike learning in a classroom setting, learning Mathematics through games is a lot of fun, and lessons are often remembered more vividly.
Before getting into the thick of things, let’s learn more about the game and perhaps some interesting facts about Yahtzee.
How to Play Yahtzee
Yahtzee is a dice and board game based on Poker. Since Poker involves card combinations, Yahtzee scoring involves number combinations based on your dice rolls. Everything is relatively simple and straightforward, but don’t expect a three-year-old to come in and make an “impact,” so to speak. Older kids could probably hold their own after more familiarity, but the point is everyone can join in on the fun. Younger toddlers are still encouraged to hang around because they will inevitably learn a skill or two just from watching.
The Yahtzee board game has withstood the test of time for a reason. It doesn’t take much to get started, the rules are easy to understand, and the strategizing and decision-making make it fun. The best thing about this game is it’s easily customizable to make room for the kids. The decision is all up to you.
In its traditional state, here is how to play Yahtzee board game:
- The game accommodates two to five players. Each one rolls five dice and decides whether or not to re-roll any of them. The best number combination is a Yahtzee, which is basically a five-of-a-kind.
- After the three rolls, the player selects which points he qualifies for using her roll. He’ll have lots of options. For example, if the player has four sixes and a two, he can either put it under the “four of a kind” column or the “Sixes” column.
- Each player gets thirteen rounds to try to fill out their thirteen boxes on the scorecard. The only catch is that once a box is full, it cannot be filled again. That means if you already filled the “Four of a kind” column once, you can’t fill it in again.
- After 13 rounds, scores are added, and the highest one wins.
- A Yahtzee is worth 50 points, and a double Yahtzee scores 100.
- Totaling 63 points in the Upper Section (Ones, Twos, Threes, Fours, Fives, and Sixes) nets an additional 35 points.
Yahtzee and Math Skills
Every time numbers and combinations are involved, you get a chance to brush up on your Math skills. Yahtzee’s number-based gameplay system is the perfect delivery method for teaching math, and it doesn’t stop at simple arithmetic.
If you want something new for your Friday game night, go for it. As previously mentioned, a few bending of the rules to accommodate kids shouldn’t be a crime. Pre-school kids can quickly find out that dice provide an excellent opportunity to work on matching and counting.
Another helpful skill that younger children can acquire by playing Yahtzee is subitizing. In math, subitizing is the ability to recognize a group of small objects without the need to count. Kids will get familiar with how the dots on the fours, fives, and sixes are arranged. Upon seeing two rows of three dots, they’ll readily know that it’s a six without counting. They can then match the dice to form combinations as they internalize how the dots are arranged.
Are you new to the Yahtzee board game? Here are some interesting facts you may not know about this all-time classic.
November 21, 2022
The popularity of board games has dwindled through the years, thanks to technology in general. However, some left a strong enough mark that they still have a pretty decent following. Such is the case with Yahtzee.
If you were not born in the 70s or 80s at the very latest, you might have yet to hear about Yahtzee. This board game reached its peak popularity in the mid-50s until the mid-70s, when Hasbro, the company that owned its rights, sold 50 million Yahtzee copies annually.
Before counting down the interesting facts about the Yahtzee board game, it would be best to briefly review the rules.
Yahtzee Rules and Gameplay
Yahtzee is one of those games with rules that are easier to grasp in practice than in theory. In short, don’t get overwhelmed with the rules and scoring system; play the game instead, and you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
Here are the basic rules of Yahtzee:
- Players take turns rolling five dice and scoring based on the various dice combinations thrown.
- A scoring combination can be formed by rolling up to three times. On each throw, you have an option of storing up to four dice until you get the desired combination.
- If you already have a combination, you may also stop rolling after the first or second roll. If you opt to do a third throw, that is the final roll, after which you must tally your score in the Score Sheet.
- The Score Sheet is divided into an Upper Section and Lower Section. When scoring the Upper Section, tally the sum of the die faces drawn.
- The Lower Section categories include 3-of-a-kind, 4-of-a-kind, Full House, Small Straight, Large Straight, Yahtzee, and Chance.
- The game is over when all 13 columns for each player have been filled. It’s possible to score ZERO on a field. For instance, if the last unfilled category is a Yahtzee and you can’t get a combination, you have to score ZERO under “Yahtzee.” Add each player’s total points, and declare the highest scorer as the winner.
After learning a little about the rules and gameplay of Yahtzee, try to play with family and friends on your game night. For good measure, why not include the kids and teach them basic arithmetic while you’re at it?
7 Interesting Facts About Yahtzee
- The first mass production of the Yahtzee games was in 1956. It quickly earned the distinction as the best-selling board and dice game in history.
- Yahtzee is owned by Hasbro, the same company that produces all-time favorites Monopoly and Scrabble.
- Yahtzee is the best game for seniors and the elderly to play since it keeps the brain alert, thereby preventing age-related cognitive deterioration. The strategy and decision-making involved in the game teach patience and concentration. Lastly, it helps enrich your life and improve your health because you spend quality time with the people you love.
- The game is still popular today, with roughly 100 million individuals worldwide playing Yahtzee.
- The largest possible score in Yahtzee without bonuses is 375 points. If, for some stroke of luck, you’ll achieve multiple bonuses, the scores can exceed 1,000.
- The oldest Yahtzee variation is Triple Yahtzee. It was developed in 1972.
- There could be over 12 games related to Yahtzee. Some of these are Challenge Yahtzee, Jackpot Yahtzee, Yahtzee Texas Hold ‘Em, Yahtzee Free for All, and more.
Basic Yahtzee Strategy for Beginners
Yahtzee is a game that’s highly dependent on chance and luck, but there is also a component of skill to the gameplay. Some call it “a game of luck management.” Here are some tips to improve your strategy: Read more
Here’s how you should play the popular Yahtzee board game of the 70s.
October 31, 2022
Most of the young-ins right now probably haven’t heard about Yahtzee. It’s a great way to get people laughing and enjoying together on a game night. Some still might not know or have heard about this game despite the fact that Yahtzee has been around for decades. Although it may not make its way to the list of the most popular board games of 2022 any time soon, we believe learning Yahtzee is worth the time.
The Original Yahtzee
The invention of Yahtzee primarily came as an accident by a young Canadian couple. It was first known as “Yacht” because the couple learned and played the game onboard a yacht with their friends.
Soon, it became their mission to spread the rules of the game to everyone they knew. After all, it was easy to get started with Yahtzee since all you need is dice and scorecards. In 1956, a game entrepreneur named Edwin S. Lowe successfully purchased the rights to the game from the couple.
Lowe launched the game as “Yahtzee” in 1956 and enjoyed considerable success. He owned the rights to the game until 1973, and it sold more than 40 million copies worldwide. The game rights were then purchased by Milton Bradley in 1973. The sales hype continued into the 80s under the Milton Bradley banner (later named Hasbro Bradley and Hasbro, Inc). Every year, roughly around 50 million Yahtzee dice games are sold.
People from all walks of life, age groups, and genders believe the dice game Yahtzee is one of the top activity choices for family fun. No, this is not one of those horror games that give you the most thrills, but it gives you a different excitement that you can’t find in any other best horror board games.
The original Yahtzee can be played using five six-sided dice and a pen and paper to tally the scores. However, there have been several game variations over the years.
Two of the most popular are Yahtzee “Frenzy” and Yahtzee “Hands Down.” Like the original, the game consists of a number of rounds but is considerably much shorter. In this game, every turn is a free-for-all, which means every player competes for the same combinations.
On the other hand, the “Hands Down” version is mostly played like the original, except that it uses cards instead of dice. The only difference is that players have the option to pit their hands against the others for bonus points. That’s not included in the original Yahtzee game.
How to Play the Yahtzee Board Game
Yahtzee may be confusing at first, but give it a few tries, and you’ll get the hang of it. It requires a lot of luck and a little skill, especially when deciding which scores to choose. Here is an outline of how to play Yahtzee:
The goal is to score as many points as possible by rolling five dice. Certain combinations of dice result in points, and some score bigger than others.
Each player takes turns rolling the dice. In every turn, a player may choose to roll the dice three times. He won’t have to roll all five dice in the succeeding throws. He may decide to “keep” or put dice on the side and only roll the ones that don’t have the numbers he’s looking for. Read more