People have been playing with dice for hundreds — even thousands — of years and there is good reason why! They are fun to roll and throw, and dice lend themselves to games of chance, probability and math. There are literally hundreds of games, each with a nearly limitless amount of variations (some family-friendly dice games, and some distinctly adult in nature for example turning it into a drinking game).
You can take all of these games outside to enjoy sunshine, fresh air and time with your family and friends. They can also be a great bonding activity for groups and teams. Read on to learn about our favorite games and our favorite of the best yard dice games!
- 1 1. Yardzee
- 2 2. Yarkle
- 3 3. Snake Eyes
- 4 4. Beat That
- 5 5. Twenty-One/Mexico
- 6 6. Going To Boston
- 7 7. Ship, Captain And Crew
- 8 8. Balut
- 9 9. Pig
- 10 10. Double Whammy
- 11 Frequently Asked Questions
- 12 Conclusion
Yardzee is basically Yahtzee for the yard! Instead of tossing dice onto a table or tray, you throw giant wooden dice blocks across your lawn or in any other designated game area. Points are scored (as in the classic Yahtzee game) based on the combination and sequence of the numbers on the yard dice faces, such as a “Full House,” and you get three throws to maximize your score. This is one of the yard dice games great for all ages because it requires only elementary-level math skills, and it helps teach sequencing and probability. Plus, it’s just plain fun!
Our Yardzee game reviews can help you choose the best yard dice set — we recommend the Splinter Woodworking Yardzee & Yardkle Giant Dice Set, which deserves a place of pride on your porch or patio. You can also enjoy numerous variations on the classic dice game, such as Copycat Yahtzee or Reverse Sequence. Adults can even download “strip Yahtzee” score sheets; play outdoors at your own risk! (Tall fences are nice.)
Yarkle, or Yard Farkle, is another traditional dice game that can be adapted to your collection of dice yard games. It is played with two or more players and six dice: we like the Splinter Woodworking Yardzee & Yardkle Giant Games Set. A player throws the dice, sets one or more die aside for scoring and continues to throw the remaining dice if they wish. Once all six dice have been made “hot dice” (scored), the player can start again. If a throw results in no score, the player has “farkled,” all points are lost and the dice are passed to the next player. This is a game that everyone can enjoy in the yard, at a tailgate picnic or anywhere else.
If you’re playing with all adults, a variation on the Yarkle rules is that anyone who farkles has to indulge in an adult beverage. When a player makes hot dice AND continues to throw, they earn the chance to make another player indulge.
3. Snake Eyes
A snake eyes yard dice game is another great way to spend time with your family, friends and set of wood dice! You’ll need six dice (we like the Trademark Innovations Giant Dice Set with extra-large snake eye markings) and a hoop or rope to make a three-foot circle. Players take turns trying to throw the dice in the circle. Points are awarded based on the value of dice that land and stay in the circle each round, and the game is played to a set score point, usually 21. It’s not as easy as it sounds to get the dice to stay in the circle! If any player rolls “snake eyes” — all 1s in a single turn — that player wins immediately.
Like other yard dice games, there are adult variants — one variation of the game might encourage players to drink whenever a snake eye, or die with one pip showing, makes it into the circle. You’re free to make up your own house rules as well; after all, it’s your house!
4. Beat That
This is one of the lawn dice games that’s great for teaching kids math without them even knowing it! It’s a fun game for everyone to play. It’s usually played with three dice, but younger kids may want to start out with two (it can also be played with four or more). Try the Tactic USA Big Dice Game set.
The first player rolls the dice and puts them in order to create the highest number possible; for instance, dice showing 3, 7 and 4 can be arranged to make 734. The dice are then passed to the next player with a challenge to “beat that!” The player with the highest number wins that round and scores one point. For older kids who can handle sums, the winning number can be the point total for that round — this results in spectacularly high scores and a lot of addition practice!
This yard dice game is also a gambling game by nature, but it can easily be modified for kids by playing for marbles, jellybeans or other small tokens. It requires two dice, and we recommend the GoSports Giant Dice Inflatable with Rapid Valve.
All players start out with the same amount of tokens and agree in advance how much each round will be worth. The first player to roll dice can roll up to three times and choose the highest score. However, every other player can roll as many times as the first player did, so the first player can make the strategic choice to limit the amount of rolls the other players can make. The player with the lowest score puts the agreed-upon amount of tokens into the pot, and the next round starts. When there is only one player left with any tokens, they are the winner and they take the entire pot.
6. Going To Boston
This game has been played for a long time, and its name may have originated from sailors‘ journeys. Any number of players can participate, but more than six can be unwieldy. The game is played with three dice. Players decide ahead of time how many rounds they want to play.
In each round, players take turns throwing the dice. On the first roll, the highest-scoring die is set aside. The player rolls the remaining two dice, and the higher-scoring die is set aside. The last die is thrown once again, and the values for all three dice are totaled. That’s the player’s score for the round. After the agreed-upon number of rounds, the scores are added up and the player with the highest score wins. If there is a tie, one more round is played.
7. Ship, Captain And Crew
In its classic form, this is a game best suited for adults since it’s a gambling-based game. It’s easy enough to make it family-friendly for kids of all ages by playing for jellybeans or marbles though. You’ll need five dice (check out the Hey! Play! Giant Dice Set) and whatever you’re using as tokens.
In this yard dice game, 6 represents the ship, 5 represents the captain and 4 represents the crew. Players ante into the pot and the fun begins! Each player has three throws. A player must roll 6-5-4 either simultaneously or in order to be able to load the ship with cargo; the remaining two dice are the cargo and the most valuable cargo wins the round and the pot. Any players who do not achieve the 6-5-4 sequence are disqualified and must re-ante for the next round.
Balut is another dice game that’s somewhat similar to the classic Yahtzee, but it definitely has a personality of its own. Balut tournaments in Denmark, Singapore and other locales are high-class affairs with dress codes and formal codes of conduct, but you can enjoy the game in your own backyard. We recommend the Franklin Sports Dice Solid Wood Giant Games with Carrying Case.
Players throw five dice and record their scores in seven different categories, such as 4s, 5s, 6s and straights. Five of a kind is a Balut, which is announced to all players. Players get three chances to re-roll any or all of the dice to improve their scores. Before the game starts, players guess how many Baluts will be rolled in total and the winner can get a prize (separate from winning the game). You can download and print Balut scoresheets, or you can create your own.
This is a deceptively simple dice game, but it’s often used by mathematics and computer science professors to teach the concept of probability. It’s played with one large die, and we like the bright red GoSports 3.5″ Foam Playing Dice Giant Game.
A player rolls the die repeatedly until they either roll a 1 or they decide to “hold.” For each roll that is not a 1, the value of the die is added to that turn’s score. If/when the player holds, the score for that round becomes official. If the player continues rolling and a 1 comes up, all is lost and the score for that round is zero.
Variations on Pig include: Two-Dice Pig, which is played with two dice; Big Pig, which is also played with two dice and awards a player 25 points if double 1s are rolled; and Skunk, which is designed for large groups.
10. Double Whammy
Many of us have learned and loved the Double Whammy dice toss as a drinking game, and it can certainly be enjoyed that way, but it can also be played as a healthy or family-friendly variation by substituting jumping jacks or another mini-challenge.
You’ll need two giant yard dice for this game and we recommend the Triumph Sports USA Big Roller Wooden Lawn Dice Giant Games set. Players take turns tossing the dice, and the objective is to make a roll that doesn’t require you to take a drink (do a jumping jack). If your roll includes a 6 or adds up to 6, you take one drink. If you roll double 1s, 2s, 4s, or 5s, you take that many drinks. But — and this is the double whammy — if you roll double 3s or double 6s, you have both rolled doubles and hit the “6” target. You need to take six drinks. Play continues until you make a roll that requires no drink, and then it passes to the next player.
Frequently Asked Questions
A Yard Yahtzee game, or Yardzee, is played with five dice just like the traditional game with a little tray and cup. Many of the combinations and sequences, such as “Full House,” are based on five dice, so it generally does not work well to play with a different number of dice.
It is possible to play Farkle, Yard Farkle, or Yarkle with 5 dice even though it is traditionally played with 6 dice. There would have to be some adaptations to the scoring system, but part of the fun of playing your own games at your own house is to play them your way!
You can make your own set of yard dice from a 4″x4″ cedar fence post cut into blocks, sanded, marked and finished. There are downloadable templates available for the die markers and you can make them as basic or as elaborate as you wish. Have fun creating your own customized set of yard dice!
There are literally hundreds of games that you can play with yard dice and some of the most popular are Yardzee, Yard Farkle, Double Whammy and Pig. Pretty much any dice game can be taken outside. There are also games with adult variations for after the kids have gone to bed!
Yard dice games that require 2 dice include Pig, Mexico, Double Whammy and many more. In addition, many of the most popular board games for kids and adults are played with two dice, and you can take those games outside any time you want to enjoy them with your set of yard dice!
There are many, many yard dice games that you can play with a great set of giant dice! We think that most people will like the Splinter Woodworking Yardzee & Yardkle Giant Dice Set or the Splinter Woodworking Yardzee & Yardkle Giant Games Set best, but there are no shortage of super dice game sets on the market and you can even make your own for the best yard games fun!