29 Mar

Unique New Ways to Play Yahtzee

A variety of exciting new ways to score Yahtzee.

Unique New Ways to Play Yahtzee

If you’ve been playing Yahtzee for any extensive length of time – especially if you’ve been playing with the same group of people – odds are you’ve been looking for a new way to mix things up. As fun as this popular dice game is, there’s no denying that it can get a little monotonous after a while.

Some of the rules and scoring variations herein are things my family came up with years ago to keep the game exciting or make it more challenging. The ones I found while researching the topic online came from other players who twisted the original rules in the same way, either making the game easier or more difficult to win. None of these are official rule variations.

Different Ways to Play Yahtzee

All you’ll need to play any of these unique Yahtzee games is the usual equipment – 5 dice, score pads, and players! A dice cup for rolling is optional. I’ll start by listing the games I find to be more challenging, since that’s usually the goal of altering the rules. The bottom of the list has variations that make it easier to get a high score (and may require additional dice!)

Note: The following Yahtzee rule variations assume you already know how to play by original rules. If not, please refer to this page first:

Half & Half Yahtzee

In traditional Yahtzee, players can score in any area that’s open on a single game row. In the Half & Half version, players must complete scoring the Upper Section first, then move on to the Lower Section. This makes it much more challenging to accomplish the Upper Bonus, or to score a Yahtzee. If a player does manage to score Yahtzee, they will also get to roll for a Bonus Yahtzee at the end.

If playing more than one game, you can alternate sections by reversing the order. On the second game, roll for the Lower Section first, and Upper Section last.

Down The Line Yahtzee

A more brutal version of the previous rules, this version requires every player to roll for the next item on the list. Start with 1’s in the Upper Section, then 2’s, 3’s, and so on “down the line”.

Being such a difficult way to generate a decent score, you may want to allow any Yahtzee/Bonus Yahtzee to be scored if/when it occurs. Or not – up to you!

Special Dice Yahtzee

The hardest variation of them all, this edition requires the use of one special dice, and four standard dice. By special, I mean you must be able to tell this dice from the others. It could be a different color or different size. If you don’t have one, use a marker to mark one of the standard dice (wash it off later with warm water and soap or hand sanitizer).

The idea is that you must keep the special dice on the first roll, and you must use it when scoring your total. For instance, if the special dice is a 2, and the final roll results are 2-2-5-5-5, you cannot take this as a score on 5’s. You must include the 2. Therefore it could only be two 2’s, 3 of a Kind, Full House, or 19 on Chance.

Full Sheet Yahtzee

The first of my easy-scoring variations, this game can be very long, but also very exciting! The idea is that players use their entire score sheet – all 6 game lines – for a single game. The first two game lines are worth 1x points. The second two lines (games 3 and 4) are worth 2x points. And the last two lines (games 5 and 6) are tallied at 3x the value.

By these rules, where you record each score is extremely important. If you have to scratch something, you’ll want to do it on the first lines, while scoring a Yahtzee and Bonus Yahtzees in the final columns can be invaluable!

Ways to Score Yahtzee with Extra Dice

These next two editions require players to have access to more dice.

6 Dice Yahtzee

In this version, you’ll one extra die in the mix. The concept is simple. Players rolls 6 dice instead of 5 to make it a little easier to get those big roll combinations. The rules are otherwise the same, though. The player must choose one dice to omit from the results, only using 5 to score the roll.

Yahtzee Swap

You’ll need a whole lot of dice for this game! Every player needs 5. It’s a very fast game and potentially high scoring game. The idea is that all players roll at the same time. Each will hide the results of their roll so no other player may see it. After the first roll, each player can select one die from their roll to pass to their left. Swapping is optional – not required. Each player passes their swapped dice to the next player on their left who also chose to swap (skip over those who don’t). This way all players start and end with 6 dice.

Now, players take a second roll, as usual, followed by another optional swapping of 1 die. Players can then reveal their dice for the final roll. No further swapping is permitted.

More About Yahtzee

If you’d like to learn more about this immensely popular dice game, including more interesting ways to shake up the rules, check out the following pages:

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