With centuries of options, how do you find the best dice games? People have been playing dice games all over the world ever since humans learned to hammer bones or rocks into rough cubes. Rolling dice is a core part of tabletop gaming – so, for the sake of our beloved chance cubes, we’ve compiled this list of the best dice games new and old.
These easy, accessible games can go toe-to-toe with the best classic board games of all time. You’ll find no yawning in Yahtzee and plenty of laughter in Liar’s Dice.
The best dice games in 2023 are:
- Ganz schön Clever (That’s Pretty Clever)
- Liar’s Dice
- Shut The Box
- The Chocolate Game
Ganz schön Clever (That’s Pretty Clever)
Released by then 111-year-old games publishing house Schmidt Spiele in 2018 (and published by Stronghold Games in the US), this drafting game of colored dice, completing sets, and chasing foxes has become something of a casual cult classic in the board game cafe circuit due to its mastery of public and secret information. In case you prefer the visuals, here’s 3 Minute Board Games’ excellent run-through:
Each turn, you’ll roll six dice, and choose one to score with on the relevant colored area on your score sheet. Larger numbers can be more valuable, but beware – once you score with one of your dice rolls, all the lower results than your chosen one get placed in the middle for the other players to use later. There’s thus some finesse to making the most of each turn, and keeping certain key rolls out of your opponents’ clutches.
You’ll rinse and repeat (roll your remaining dice, score one of them on your sheet, place the lower rolls in the middle) up to two more times, or until you run out of dice to roll. After that, each of the other ‘passive’ players gets to choose one of your leftover dice in the central pool to score on their own sheets – but here’s the kicker that makes things more mind-bending: they don’t tell anyone else which one.
This means players multiple ‘passive’ players could be choosing the same leftover die to use on any given turn – yikes – and that, sure, you can keep track of the dice your opponents choose on their own turns – but have to guess at people’s choices from the drafting pool as a ‘passive’ player each turn.
It’s a cheap, slick, deceptively deep drafting game that moves fast, keeps everybody engaged in every turn, and generates lots of fun energy from secret information – well worth a spot in anyone’s collection.
A centuries-old dice game with mysterious origins, Liar’s Dice, commonly known as Perudo or Dudo (Spanish for ‘I doubt’) is a fantastic bluffing game that can be learned in less than a minute. Plus, it was invented either by the Incan Empire or on pirate ships, depending on who you believe, so that’s pretty cool.
Here’s how it works. Everyone rolls their own dice but keeps them hidden. After that, the bidding begins. You bid based on how many dice showing a certain number you feel there are among all the dice at the table, going off your own dice and what you reckon everyone else has rolled. Any player can increase the bet by increasing the number of dice (from four 4s to five 4s) or by raising the value (eg from four 4s to four 5s).
This continues, going around the table until a player decides to challenge the previous bet. After that, the dice are revealed, and if the bet is successful, the challenger loses one of their dice. If it’s not, it’s the bidder who must forfeit a die.
There are different variants, but that’s pretty much it. It’s a simple ruleset, but you’ll find there are plenty of opportunities for sneaky bluffing and strategy within. You’ll also discover that the only thing better than rolling dice is rolling dice in secret.
Some of the best tabletop games – especially dice games – find greatness through extreme simplicity, and Boggle is definitely one of them. It’s a little box with 16 six-sided dice, a mini egg timer, and that’s it. So what’s the big deal, you ask? Well now.
Eagle-eyed readers will notice that these particular d6s have letters, not numbers, on each face. To play Boggle, you’ll take your plastic box, shake it hard, and let those 16 dice settle into the 16 matching slots in the bottom of the box. Open the box, flip the timer, and then find (and write down) as many words as you can using the letters showing on the dice.
Shut The Box
What’s in the box? What’s in the box!? Nothing, actually. In fact, in Shut the Box, the ‘box’ is really just a wooden frame with numbers on it. Your aim in this dice game is to lower the numbered wooden slats and by doing so, shut the box. You do this by rolling two dice and lowering panels of your choice which add up your die score. Those left over at the end form your points, and you want the lowest number possible to win.
Like most classic dice games, many of which started their life as gambling games, Shut the Box is simple, featuring a bit of strategy mixed with a lot of chance. It isn’t heavy enough to support a multi-hour games night, but it’s surprisingly compelling for what it is, serving as a good warmup game or a fun way to fill a spare half-hour.
Originating in the 1950s, Yahtzee is one of the most well-known dice games of all time. It doesn’t just get a pass thanks to its fame, however, Yahtzee has truly earned its place on this list, thanks to addictive gameplay that strikes the perfect balance between luck and skill.
In case you’re not familiar with Yahtzee, it’s all about rolling and re-rolling a set of five dice to try and meet the requirements of certain categories (many inspired by poker, for example, three-of-a-kind) and score the most points.
The trick is that you decide the scoring category after the rolling is done, and you can always ‘hold’ specific dice instead of rerolling them, to try and land the best possible combo. For the visual gamers, here’s Gather Together Games’ nice and easy tutorial:
One great thing about Yahtzee is how easy it is to get a game going. Yahtzee is enjoyed by all kinds of players, young or old, and easily rivals the best family board games. It can be played as a solo game, or with as many friends as you can find. Plus, it’s so well-known that you’re unlikely to get any complaints from the usual, non-board-gaming sort.
Farkle is a bit like a simplified version of Yahtzee, where again you’re rolling dice to hit poker combinations. However, whereas Yahtzee is all about deciding which dice to hang onto to improve your overall ‘hand’, Farkle removes this element of strategy. Instead, it’s a game that’s all about greed and knowing when to push your luck.
See, in Farkle, you remove dice (this dice game has six to Yahtzee’s five) when you want to cash them in, and can then roll again with the remainder. But if you ever roll a combination that scores zero, known as a Farkle (presumably after the noise a player makes when this occurs) all your points go down the drain.
The Chocolate Game
The Chocolate Game is a great family board game as it works well both with kids and overly competitive adults. To play, you’ll need a hat, scarf, and gloves; a knife and fork; and a large bar of chocolate. Players take turns rolling the dice until someone scores a six.
At that point, they have to put on all the woolly gear, pick up the knife and fork and, so impaired, must attempt to haphazardly unwrap and eat as much chocolate as they can before someone else successfully rolls a six and assumes their place.
You might think it’s a stretch to call this a dice game, but it absolutely qualifies, as there is true magic to be found here. You’ll never watch a roll as intently as you will in The Chocolate Game, or cry out in such anguish when the die slides under the fridge.
Even those poor souls not particularly interested in chocolate will soon find themselves possessed by something, shouting at their fellow players to keep the dice moving as “Quick, quick, quick! She’s eating it all!”
The camaraderie builds among you as you all glower at the smug chocolate-eater, until you finally hit a six, at which point you whisk the hat off their head, snatch the gloves, and suddenly you are public enemy number one for the next three minutes (or 15 seconds, depending on your luck). Try it, trust us!
A fast-paced dice-rolling game that requires quick decision-making. Qwixx is a little like Bingo – only there’s as much strategy involved as luck. You’re using dice rolls to cross off numbers from your board in sequence and score points. You can choose to skip numbers whenever you want to, but you can’t go back and fill in the gaps later.
A great family game, Qwixx has no downtime, as you must act on each player’s turn. There’s lots of fun risk-taking, and the game is a doddle to teach.
Love the tactile physicality of playing dice games? Chances are you’ll get a kick out of tile games like Azul, too – click those links to read about the best titles. We’ve also made a list of the best DnD dice sets on the market. Or perhaps you could try the ultimate dice game: Warhammer 40k. Play an army like Orks or Imperial Guard and you’ll be rolling hundreds of them for hours on end, every single game…