Most Popular Dice Games: A Roller’s Guide
Dice games are one of the consistent universal games of the world. Every country has its own version of a dice game, from ancient to modern times.
When one thinks of a dice game, several games come to mind, but Yahtzee leaves the mark. The game was invented in 1964 and has sold over 50 million units worldwide.
While Yahtzee is the most popular, thousands of other dice games worldwide are interesting to explore and play, each with its rules, complexities, and stakes.
This article explores the most popular dice games in the world, uncovering their history, rules and mechanics, and significance in gaming culture.
Highlights of the Article
- Yahtzee is the best-selling board game and dice game in history, selling over 50 million worldwide.
- National Dice Day is celebrated in the US every December 4 annually.
- Historians have discovered Backgammon dice made out of human bones.
- The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, inspired the visuals of the Sagrada dice game
- Players can play and win Tenzi in under a minute, making it the “world’s fastest dice game.”
- Fans of Lovecraftian themes will love playing Elder Sign.
- The World Backgammon Championship prize pool in 2022 is $250,000.
- Nathan Steuer took home $100,000 prize money after winning the 28th Magic World Championship.
- Senet is the oldest dice game discovered.
Top 12 Dice Games of All Time
As mentioned, dice games are easy-to-follow and playable by all age groups. This and more are what makes them a highly profitable game.
Their impact is so significant that there is even an annual National Dice Day every December 4. You can play dice in casinos or even at family celebrations or parties.
Here are the 12 biggest and most popular dice games in the world.
💡Edwin S. Lowe, who first bought the game rights from the Canadian couple, organized a yacht party to promote the game.
💡The players’ word-of-mouth reviews significantly contributed to the worldwide success of this game.
💡This game is distributed by Hasbro Gaming, which distributes popular board games such as Monopoly and Scrabble.
Yahtzee is the highest-selling and most popular dice game, with around $50 million in global sales and 100 million players worldwide.
The dice game is based on Poker, requiring luck and skill. The game’s premise is about having strategic and careful choices in scoring dice combinations.
There are many editions of Yahtzee games available on Amazon that one can choose from, such as Yahtzee Duels Star Wars Edition, Yahtzee: Donkey Kong, and more.
- Each player will have a Yahtzee scorecard.
- Players can roll the dice three (3) times until it reaches the desired score.
- Once done, choose the combo you think will give you the best chance of winning.
2. Shut the Box
💡Shut the Box traces back to 12th-century France and is popular among sailors and fishermen.
💡It’s the favorite pub game in England.
💡Teachers also use this game to teach basic math to children.
💡The game is also called: Canoga, Batten Down the Hatches, or Trick-Track.
Shut The Box invites 2-4 players to a game involving wagers, a counting box, dice, pen, paper, and simple math.
This dice game can be played by anyone and is known to be used by England instructors in teaching math to primary schoolers as it helps children test their mathematical skills.
- There will be two dice and a board that contains tiled numbers 1 to 9.
- A player will roll and get the sum of the two dice.
- If dice one is four and dice two is 5, which equals 9, then the player can choose to shut any open numbers that sum up to nine.
- The game is over if the sum of the two dice you rolled is no longer available in the box.
- To get your final score, sum up the open tiles. The player with the lowest score wins.
3. Liar’s Dice
💡Liar’s Dice had its appearance in the box-office film Pirates of the Caribbean II: Dead Man’s Chest and the popular game title Red Dead Redemption.
💡History says that Liar’s Dice was a popular game in pirate ships.
💡It’s one of the most popular dice games in China.
The Liar’s Dice is a game combining strategy, deception, and being able to call out the opponents’ bluff. Players bet and call bluffs on others while trying to avoid losing their dice.
Liar’s Dice is popular in South America, where it originated. The game has also become popular in Asia, spawning their version of it.
This game is best played in groups. Other versions include Doubting Dice, Deception Dice (USA), Diception, Dudo, and more.
- There are two ways to play this game: Single Hand and Common Hand.
Single Hand Liar’s Dice Mechanics
- Players roll their dice simultaneously.
- Players must look at their dice by keeping them hidden with the help of a cup from the other players.
- Any player must state a bid composed of a quantity and a face (“1’s”, “5’s”, etc.).
- Other players can make a higher bid or challenge the previous bid.
- If a player challenges the previous bid, players must reveal their dice.
- Whether the bid is matched or exceeded, the bidder wins.
- Otherwise, the challenger wins.
- The loser removes one die from the game by putting it before their dice cup.
Common Hand Liar’s Dice Mechanics
- Identity the Poker Dice hands from highest to lowest:
- Five of a kind
- Four of a kind
- Full house (Three of a kind and a pair)
- High straight (2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
- Low straight (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
- Three of a kind
- Two pair
- One pair
- Highest single number
- The player with the highest-ranking poker dice hand will be the first player.
- The starting player rolls the dice and keeps them hidden with the help of a cup from the other players.
- A player declares a poker hand. It may be the actual hand they rolled or a complete lie.
- The next player can either accept or challenge the hand.
- Challenge Accepted – If the challenger is right and the dice show a hand ranking lower than the hand declared by the last player.
- Challenge Not Accepted – the player must declare how many are being rolled. A player must announce a hand ranking higher than the previous one.
- Players who lose their last counter are out of the game.
💡Besides Go and Chess, Backgammon is one of the oldest games in history.
💡Backgammon is popular in countries like Italy, Japan, Syria, India, and Palestine, to name a few.
💡This two-player game first appeared in the James Bond movie “Octopussy” in 1983.
Backgammon is a two-player dice game played on a board with 24 narrow triangles or “points,” where players try to get all checkers into the home board. The first to bear off all of their checkers wins.
The game is one of the oldest dice games in history, with historians discovering Backgammon dice pieces made out of human bones.
- Each player throws a single die. The player with the highest value of dice is the first player.
- The first player must move their checkers based on the numbers showing on the two dice. Players then take alternate turns in rolling the two dice.
- The roll of the dice determines the points or pips. The checkers are moved in a forward position to a lower-numbered point. However:
- A checker may or may not be moved to an open point.
- The numbers on the two dice identify separate moves. If players roll 6 and 4, they have three options;
- They may move one checker six spaces to an open point;
- Move another four spaces to an open point;
- Move the one checker, a total of 10 spaces, to an open point.
- The player who can remove all 15 pieces from the board wins.
Roulette or Craps: which one has better odds? Find out which of these two popular casino games is better through this in-depth article.
💡Kevin Carroll and Steve Mark created the game prototypes in 2010 and sold them to a store manager in Connecticut.
💡As of writing, more than 4,000 specialty retailers in the US sell TENZI.
💡It won the Best Toys for Kids Award by ASTRA and Best Toy Award by Learning Express.
Known as the “world’s fastest game,” Tenzi has quickly captured the hearts of every family looking for a fun and simple dice game.
Tenzi has sold over 500,000 games in the US alone since its release in 2010.
The creators pitched the game to Celeste Vanderlip, the store manager of HobbyTown, who first sold a couple of Tenzis to a woman looking for a simple board game to play with her family.
- All Players roll their ten dice as fast as possible until they are the same. The first one to finish and shout “TENZI!” wins.
💡It originated in the 1800s in England. It was played in saloons to sway property owners out of their land.
💡Today, it is the most popular dice and gambling game among women in America.
💡It’s a game often played in fundraising events due to its simplicity and the ability to create sociability.
Bunco is a social dice game requiring 12 players (or more) formed into groups with four members in each group, where players roll their three dice to achieve a certain number.
The dice game is the women’s equivalent of “Men’s Poker Night” but can be played by anyone regardless of gender.
- Bunco can be played in two to four sets, with six rounds in each set.
- Players are formed into groups with four players at each. One table is left for the head table.
- During the game, players take turns rolling three dice simultaneously to try and gain points.
- The host or head rings a bell to indicate the start and end of each round.
- Players shall roll the same number on the dice as the number of the round.
- A point is awarded to a player for every number rolled that matches the round number.
- There are typically multiple “winners” at the end of a game. The player/s who gets the most Buncos wins!
Both men and women enjoy gambling. The fact that Bunco is the women’s own version of “Men’s Poker Night” says a lot.
Women outnumber men by 3% regarding the number of gamblers worldwide.
💡The beauty of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, inspired this game.
💡The developers, Adrian Adamescu and Daryl Andrews, spent most of the time developing and testing the game in the Crossroads Board Game Cafe.
💡It gained numerous recognitions during its launch, including the Gra Roku Family Game Awards, Origins Awards Best Family Game and Best Board Game, and more.
Sagrada is a 10-round dice game where 1-4 players construct a stained-glass window using dice on a private board having 20 spaces, taking inspiration from the Sagrada Familia church windows.
People who have visited Sagrada Familia will love this game.
Daryl and his wife spent a couple of weeks in Spain, where Daryl got the idea and called Adrian to help him develop this dice game.
It wasn’t easy for the developers to get the perfect publisher to green-lit Sagrada. Most rejections they got were due to the required number of dice to make the game viable.
- Each die represents a piece of glass in color, and the pip value shows what shade.
- To begin, during setup, select three random public objective cards.
- These cards determine which person has created the most beautiful window.
- Cards judge various things, including:
- Rows or color variety
- Lots of light shades (low pip values)
- Diagonal lines of color, etc.
- Additionally, each player has a secret objective.
- At the end of the game, players compare their windows using the objectives on display (plus private) to determine the best window.
💡Qwixx is often compared to Yahtzee, especially the mechanics.
💡Winner of 2014 Spring Parents’ Choice Silver Honor and 2014 Mensa Select.
Another dice game that lets kids test their math skills. Qwixx was launched in 2012 by Gamewright.
Aside from putting one’s adding skills, this multiple-player game tests your decision-making, as this plays a big role in winning the game.
- The score sheet contains four rows of numbers to mark;
- Two to twelve up for red and yellow
- Twelve to two down for blue.
- The game starts when a player rolls a handful of dice. Players may or may not mark something on their score sheet.
- After a player rolls the dice, the player gets the sum of the white dice, and other players mark that number in one of the four rows.
- In addition, the active player may or may not mark the sum of one of the colored dice and one of the white dice in the row of that color.
- Five points will be taken off from a player for every penalty should the player choose not to go with any of the options above.
- To get the total score, tally points for each color, sum these values, then subtract five points for each marked penalty. The player with the highest score wins.
9. Las Vegas
💡Designed by Rüdiger Dorn and published by Ravensburger in North America in 2012.
💡Winner of the Le Lys Grand Public and Årets Spel Best Adult Game in 2013.
Also known as Vegas Dice Game, Las Vegas is one of the casinos’ most popular dice games. However, this dice game is also suitable for children if you have a box set of this at home.
It’s no surprise that a dice game was named after Las Vegas. After all, Las Vegas is home to the best and largest casinos worldwide.
- Each player takes turns rolling eight dice of a different color.
- A player can choose to place the dice on the relevant cards.
- For instance, a dice showing a “two” will be placed on the casino mat marked “2”.
- All players take turns until all the dice have been used.
- The player with the most dice on each card wins.
💡Charlie and Mary Potter filed a copyright for the scoring system in 1996.
💡It took ten years before Farkle became a commercial hit.
The history behind this game remains a mystery until now. Many theories have been released online, but historians have not yet confirmed them.
- Each player rolls one die. The player with the highest number is the first player. The following players take turns in clockwise order.
- The first player then rolls all six dice.
- To get a score, a player must first “Open.” It means to bank at least 500 points.
- The player who gathers 10,000 points at the end of the game wins.
11. Machi Koro
💡This game originated in the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan.
💡Winner of the Fairplay À la carte in 2015.
In this game, you get to be the mayor of your city. Adding difficulty are resources needed to build four major landmarks: an amusement park, a radio tower, a shopping mall, and a train station.
Kids and “kids at heart” will love this game because its features remind you of an anime series.
- The player rolls a dice.
- Depending on the number matching the die roll, a player can earn whatever income is listed on the card. There are four card types a player can buy (excluding landmarks):
- Blue: anyone can earn money when anyone rolls a matching number.
- Green: when you roll a matching number, only you can earn the money.
- Red: if an opponent rolls a matching number, you can get their money and vice versa.
- Purple: when you roll a matching number, you can earn money from other players.
- The first player to complete all four landmarks wins.
12. Elder Sign
💡Kevin Wilson and Richard Launius, the designers of Arkham Horror, are the designers of Elder Sign.
💡It is based on the Cthulhu mythology created by famous author H.P. Lovecraft.
Horror and H.P. Lovecraft fans come together in this dice game that will tickle their imagination and get lost in a world full of monsters and mysteries.
Elder Sign is a fast-paced dice game requiring cooperation from its 1-8 players, who are investigators racing against the clock to stop or delay the return of “the Ancient One.”
Players must utilize their occult knowledge, resourcefulness, and teamwork to locate the “Elder Signs,” the eldritch symbols used to defeat and seal away the Ancient Ones and win the game.
But stack up some patience, as this game can take an hour or so to finish.
- A player must select one of the 16 characters in the game and starting items and pick an Ancient One (the monster) to face off against, and the game begins.
- Players will move to one of the museum’s rooms to beat the objectives listed on the card.
- To do this, a player must roll a dice to match the symbols on the card.
- After completing the objectives, you will get the rewards listed on the cards.
- Your health, sanity, or both will be removed if you fail.
- To restore, discard the investigator and items and then pick a new one.
- Afterwards, the clock moves, and another Mythos card is drawn. These cards can:
- Spawn monsters
- Make the clock move faster, or;
- Add doom tokens to the Ancient One’s card.
- If the Ancient One’s doom track fills up, the players must lose immediately or fight the investigators.
- If an investigator is taken away by the Ancient One, they are automatically out of the game.
- The only way to win is to roll the Ancient One’s card repeatedly until all doom tokens are gone.
Most Popular Dice Game Tournaments
Dice game enthusiasts worldwide compete in various tournaments. Many groups organize a series of competitions to keep the game more exciting. In most cases, winners bring home prize money.
Here are some of the most prominent dice game tournaments:
1. World Backgammon Championship
The World Backgammon Championships is a highly anticipated tournament for the game. This event has been held annually for over 40 years now.
In 2022, nearly 200 Backgammon players competed during the 6-day tournament. Sander Lylloff won in the Open category; meanwhile, Analisa Agosti dominated the women’s category.
The tournament raised $250,000 in prize money, and the winners took home $50,000.
2. Dungeons and Dragons Championship Series
The D&D Championship Series started in 1977 but was discontinued in 2013. However, D&D enthusiasts surged during the height of the pandemic.
Wizards of the Coast returned to the tournament with a different format starting in 2016. Nathan Steuer won the 28th Magic World Championship, which he defended in 2023.
Nathan brought home $100,000 in winnings. A $250,000 prize pool was distributed to the top 8 contenders.
What’s more? This game had been adapted into a screenplay starring Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez.
The Oldest Dice Games In History
Dice games are among the oldest games recorded in human history. Some games are over 5,000 years old.
Most of the oldest dice games discovered are from ancient civilizations like Ancient Sumerians (from Mesopotamia) and Ancient Egyptians.
Here are exciting dice games discovered from ancient civilizations:
1. The Royal Game of Ur
|📅 When was it discovered?||Between 1922 and 1934|
|🔎 Who discovered it?||Sir Leonard Woolley|
|🎲 Is it still being played?||No|
|💡 When was it created?||c.2600–2400 BC|
|🌍 Country of Origin||Ur, Ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq)|
|🗿 Where is it stored/archived||The British Museum|
The Royal Game of Ur, also known as Game of Twenty Squares, was first discovered in one of the Royal Tombs of Ur.
It is a 2-player game of strategy, tactics, counting, and understanding dice probabilities. Unlike the six-side modern dice, this game uses tetrahedral dice with four triangular sides.
Ur was an important Sumerian city-state in ancient Mesopotamia. Archeologists discovered signs of civilization from 6500 to 3800 BC.
|📅 When was it discovered?||1920s|
|🔎 Who discovered it?||James Quibell|
|🎲 Is it still being played?||No|
|💡 When was it created?||c.2700 BCE|
|🌍 Country of Origin||Ancient Egypt|
|🗿 Where is it stored/archived||Louvres, Neues, & Fitzwilliam Museums|
The Game of Snake, or Mehen, is the first recorded multi-player dice game.
The game is said to be played by 2-6 players. Historians suggested that it signifies the journey of a dead king into the afterlife.
The mechanics of the game is still a mystery. A theory suggests that a player tries to guess the number of marbles hidden in the other player’s hand. It will then dictate how the pieces move.
The Fitzwilliam Museum holds the largest Mehen board uncovered, gifted by Major Robert (John) Gayer-Anderson in 1943.
|📅 When was it discovered?||1922|
|🔎 Who discovered it?||Howard Carter|
|🎲 Is it still being played?||Yes|
|💡 When was it created?||c.3,100 BCE|
|🌍 Country of Origin||Ancient Egypt|
|🗿 Where is it stored/archived||Egyptian Museum in Cairo|
Senet is the oldest dice game ever unearthed. Archeologists discovered the most significant artifact of this game in King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922. Historians believe that Senet is his favorite game.
Historians still debate about the mechanics of the game. But, it involves throwing knucklebones or casting sticks and moving your piece through a 30-square-series.
The Final Verdict
History shows that dice games are humanity’s constant and consistent form of entertainment. Regardless of the materials and the game mechanics, the most popular dice games are universal.
Different generations are enjoying this game of math, strategy, and luck. Modern technology ensures everyone, including the younger generation, will appreciate dice
Dice games are not just forms of entertainment. These games have become part of human history and culture.
What is the most popular bar dice game?
Craps is the most popular bar dice game in the world. Every casino, including online, has at least one version of this game.
What is the name of the 5-dice game?
Yahtzee is the most popular dice game that uses 5 dice. Players take turns rolling five dice to get specific combinations and earn points.
What is the 3-dice game?
Cee-Lo or See-Low is a game where players roll three dice to achieve a specific combination to win.
What is the oldest known dice game?
Senet is the oldest known dice game, with artifacts showing that the game is more than 5,000 years old.
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