Farkle, also spelled Farkel, is a classic dice game that has been being played for ages, but which has only been distributed commercially since the early 1980’s. This lively and beloved game is easy to learn and fun to play, two factors that have undoubtedly contributed to its long-running popularity with both kids and adults. Unlike most other dice games, a bit of strategy is also needed if you want to win at Farkle, making it a more appealing game for those who like to have a hand in building their score, rather than relying entirely on luck.
Today, Legendary Games Inc. has been the sole manufacturer of the game for almost twenty years and they have a whole series of Farkel games, including Pocket Farkel, Speedy Farkel and Spicy Farkel. The scoring system in the LGI games is a little different than what is traditionally used in the informal home versions and they have introduced adaptations that incorporate playing cards, but the basic concept has remained pretty much the same.
How to Start Playing Farkle
Farkle doesn’t take much to play, which has likely been yet another reason for this game’s success. All that’s needed are six dice, at least two players and something to keep score with and you’re ready to start. The first player will throw all six of the dice onto the playing surface from a cup, setting the stage for the first round of points. Farkle players are looking for certain numbers and combinations that will award them the most points, as well as offer them the opportunity to continue to roll.
The standard Farkle scoring system is pretty straightforward. Most numbers aren’t worth anything to a player if they are the only one of their kind to face up. For example, if there’s one 3 in your roll, that die is pretty much worthless, at least at the moment. That’s true of the numbers 2, 3, 4 and 6 as well, when there are any less than three on a single roll. The only exceptions to that rule are a single 1 or a single 5, which are valued at 100 points and 50 points, respectively.
Beyond that, players are looking for three-of-a kind in their rolls, with three 1’s serving as the best score of the game at 1000 points. Three 2’s are worth 200 points, three 3’s worth 300, three 4’s are good for 400 points and three 5’s win 500 points. Three 6’s are the second-highest win of the game, earning the player 600 points instantly.
Farkle Standard Rules
This is the part of the game where a good strategy can come in handy in Farkle. The player can set aside any winning singles or combinations that they want to keep and choose to roll the low- or non-scoring dice again for the chance to add to their score. They can also opt to take whatever points are on the table and stop there, at which point they would pass all of the dice to the next player, with Farkle normally played in a traditional, clockwise rotation. There are benefits and drawbacks to either move, so the player must decide which one is the best choice for their current standing in the game.
A player who has thrown a full set of winning dice is said to have their hands on “hot dice” and they are allowed to throw all six of them again, for the chance to continue their winning streak. Meanwhile, a player who rolls a set of dice with no winning singles or combos has “farkled” and is done with that turn, with zero points recorded.
If a player does set aside any winning dice and chooses to roll the remaining game pieces again, they run the risk of their next roll producing no winning numbers. If that happens, they “farkle” and lose the points associated with their initial roll. This risk is a big part of what makes Farkle such an exciting and compelling game.
For example, if a player were to roll a 1-2-2-2-4-5, they would have a few options available for their next move. They could keep the three 2’s to collect that 200 points, as well as the 1 and the 5 for an additional 150 credits on their score. At that point, they could stop and collect their 350 points for that round or they could choose to keep all of the paying dice and roll the 4 for the chance to hit another 1 or 5 with the single die. If it did hit, they would win the extra 100 or 50 points on top of the original 350, but if it didn’t, they would lose all of the points from that round.
They could also keep the three 2’s and the higher-paying 1 and risk the 4 and the 5. In that case, if they rolled just a single 1 or 5 and another loser on the other die, they would once again have the option of taking the points that were due from the winner and stopping, or keeping the winning die put aside and risking it all by rolling the die with no value. This cycle can continue until the player either stops voluntarily, farkles out of the round, or plays their hot dice down to the very last win.
Farkle is typically played until one player reaches 10,000 points, though that number can vary from game to game. Once a player hits the predetermined amount of points to win, the other players are usually given one round in which to top the winning score, creating the potential for a lot of excitement throughout the last moments of the game.
People have been playing some version or another of this engaging game for centuries and its appeal to game-lovers still shows no signs of fading. In fact, with its uncomplicated rules and room for strategic play, Farkle appears firmly set to remain as one of the most popular dice games of our time.