With so much technology taking over the world in the form of video game consoles, tablets, and smartphones, sometimes the best way to have a memorable night is to go back to the basics.
Fun and excitement don’t necessarily need a controller and a television connection.
When you’re surrounded by your friends in a local pub, or you’re bringing people together for a family game night, all you need is a set of dice to open up a whole new world of gaming potential.
Don’t believe us?
Today we’re going to look at some of the best dice games you can play anywhere, with a description of each game, instructions and more.
These games are easy to learn, fun to play and, like any great game, hard to master.
A Brief History of Dice Games
Before we cover our favorite dice games, let’s take a look at where they came from.
It might surprise you to learn that dice are thousands of years old.
These simple 6-sided cubes go all the way back to the ancient Greeks, with some experts claiming that they were first invented during the siege of Troy.
Though we don’t know the exact date when dice were created, we do know that they’ve been used throughout societies for thousands of years.
As the gaming world has evolved over the years, dice have transformed too.
As well as the standard 6-sided option that most people know, there are also plenty of dice out there with 10, 12, 20, and even 100 sides.
Dice have been around for a long time, but people are coming up with new ways to use them, even now.
Here are just some of our favorite options when you’re looking for a simple, but fun bar game with dice.
7 Best Dice Games for the Bar
Feel free to use the navigation below to scroll to a specific dice game in this list or keep reading for all the games.
1. Bar Dice (Ship, Captain, Crew)
What better way to start our list of the best dice games to play in your local bar, than with a game called “Bar Dice”?
The most common iteration of Bar Dice is known as “Ship, Captain, Crew,” and it’s played with a six-sided dice.
You don’t need to play this game at a bar, but you do need as many friends or family members as possible.
How to Play Bar Dice
In a game of Ship, Captain, Crew, each player takes turn rolling their dice to either collect points or out-do their opponents.
Everyone rolls five dice at a time, with three shakes to accrue points.
When you roll the dice, you’re typically looking for three numbers:
- Your ship – the number 6
- Your captain – the number 5
- Your crew – the number 4
You need all of these numbers before you can start building points, and you have to find each number in order.
In other words, you have to get your ship before you get a captain, and so on.
Once you have all three, you can collect points from the last two dice in your roll, meaning the highest possible score is 12.
If you get your ship, captain and crew in the first roll, then you’ll have two more shakes that you can use to collect points.
If you don’t get all three in your three rolls, then you’ll merely hand the dice over to the next player, and you’ll get no points for that round.
The person with the highest points wins!
Bunco is a dice game that you can play with a lot of luck, and 9 dice.
The game is often played with a total of 12 people, which you split into three teams of four.
You can play with fewer or more people than 12, but you need everyone to be in a group of four to play.
How to Play Bunco
Bunco, like most dice games, is all about luck.
The competition aims to roll the number that corresponds with the round you’re playing. For instance, if you get up to round 3, then you need to roll three 3’s.
If you’re up to round four, then you want to roll four 4’s, and so on.
Every time you successfully roll the right amount of the number you need, you get a “Bunco” – which translates to a single point.
At the end of the game, the person with the most points wins.
It might be a simple concept, but Bunco can get very addictive over time – particularly if you’re drinking when you play. Bunco is one of the most popular dice games in the US!
Want to play poker, but don’t have any cards? Try Balut!
This game was designed as an alternative to poker when all you have are a bunch of dice and no deck.
There is a traditional set of rules for Balut, but most people prefer to create their own rules as they go along.
Because of this, Balut often becomes a family favorite game that changes depending on where you play it, and who you play it with.
How to Play Balut
The basic rules of Balut ask for players to create a range of scoring combinations and assign points to those combinations.
You can also use the point strategy given by the traditional Balut rules.
Once you’ve got your combos sorted out, all of the players in your group will roll a set of 5 dice in turns, noting down the points that they’ve scored.
The idea is to keep rolling until every possible scoring combination has happened at least once.
When you reach that point, the person with the highest score wins.
Another fun rule in the game of Balut is that when any player rolls five of a kind, they need to shout “Balut,” like yelling at a game of Bingo.
Additionally, if you want to make it interesting, you can ask your pals to write down how many times they think a Balut will happen in the game.
If someone guesses correctly, they can either get extra points or win a special prize.
When it comes to popular dice games, you probably don’t need much introduction to “Yahtzee.”
This game has roots that connect all the way back to some seriously old pass-times, with one version of the game known as “Yacht.”
Today, Yahtzee as we know it is probably one of the most popular dice games in the US, and even across the world.
How to Play Yahtzee
In a game of Yahtzee, the aim of the game (First created by Milton Bradley), is to roll five dice and try to win points by achieving specific combinations.
You can roll your dice up to three times in a single turn to create the combos that you need, and you have to keep your dice inside the box.
Just one game of Yahtzee includes thirteen rounds, and after each round, a player will choose which category they want to use for that round.
Importantly, once you’ve used one of the thirteen categories available, you can’t use it again – so choose wisely.
Every category has its own scoring system, and you can save specific dice in a roll, choosing to re-roll other dice if you want to.
A “Yahtzee” is when you get five of the same number in one roll, and it’s worth 50 points.
As usual, the winner of the game is the person with the most points at the end of the 13 rounds.
5. Liar’s Dice
Finally, another of the most popular dice games in the world today, Liar’s Dice found fame again after the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series came to cinemas. Everyone wants to be a pirate!
If you watched the movies, you know you’ll need a set of five dice and a cup to play, to make sure that you can conceal your rolls from other players.
How to Play Liar’s Dice
To play Liar’s dice, everyone in your team will roll their dice at the start of the game. If any of your dice land on top of each other when you’re rolling, you’ll need to start again.
Remember, you shake and move your dice in a cup to keep them hidden from the other players.
After everyone has successfully rolled, they need to keep their dice hidden, while players make bids on the value of the dice in the whole team.
In other words, if you bet that there’s four 5’s on the table, and you only have one 5 yourself, you’re hoping that the other people around you have at least three 5’s to add to your wager.
After each prediction, your team can either continue playing, or one player can challenge another and call them a liar.
If someone is challenged, then all the dice on the table are revealed.
This game is particularly fun because of the deception involved but be careful you don’t play with any sore losers!
6. Shut the Box
Shut the box is actually a traditional pub game.
Also known as Canoga, this game is played with 2 dice in an open tray.
The tray has a felt surface with 9 numbers in a row along the top length of the box.
Each number can be covered with a flap that is flipped up or slid over, depending on the design.
Shut the box is a dice game with a lot of variations on how to play. We’ll provide an overview of a common, and simple, game format, but make sure you check to see if the “house” has its own set of rules.
How to Play Shut the Box
The game is played by throwing your dice in the box and adding up the numbers. You then cover up the numbers that add up the same sum. The numbers you choose to add must be uncovered.
So, as an example, if you roll 5 total, you can cover any of the following numbers that are uncovered: 5; 2 + 3; and 4 + 1.
If the numbers needed for your sum are not available, your score is the total sum of the remaining uncovered numbers.
For example, if you shoot 5 total, but 5, 2 and 1 are already covered, then you can’t make the sum of 5. Say 7 and 9 are also covered. Your total score would then be the sum of all remaining numbers: 3+4+6+8 = 21.
Each player gets one turn. The object of the game is to have the LOWEST score after one round.
If a player covers all the numbers in one roll, he wins outright. That’s known as shutting the box.
Some shut the box games have 12 numbers, but 9 is the traditional set up. Either way, the general rules are the same. But keep an eye out for variations.
A simple game box with lots of potential for different games, shut the box would make the perfect addition to a house selection of bar games.
7. DAGZ (Dice Angle Games)
DAGZ is one of the newest dice games for bars. And this one requires a special game board.
But DAGZ is a fun and high energy dice game that is a perfect indoor substitute for games like cornhole/bags, horseshoes and even bocce.
We have a whole article about how to play DAGZ, but here are the basics:
How to Play DAGZ
The game can be played with two or four players. Each team gets four solid colored dice to throw.
You play by tossing the dice towards the other end of the board, where there is a raised wooden barrier in front of a hole.
The hole is surrounded by a square scoring area. The goal is to bank the dice off the sides and get around the wooden piece and into the scoring area.
This game uses cancellation scoring, just like cornhole. So only one team or player scores per round.
Each die that lands in the square area is worth one point. A die that lands in the hole is worth three points.
Games are played to 21 points. And you must win by two.
DAGZ takes traditional game pieces (the dice) and adds them to a throwing and aiming format that many of us are familiar with.
Plus, the boards are handmade, and the bar versions come in custom crafted basin tables. It is a serious contender to go right alongside a pool or foosball table in a game room or pub
There you have it! Seven fantastic dice games that you can play at your local bar, at home – or just about anywhere you choose.
Remember, you don’t need much to have fun, a set of dice and some great friends is all it takes!