How To Play Farkle, the Dice Game
Posted in
Forenoon watch, 5 bells (10:42 am)

Last year (2004) Lorien's family taught me how to play a dice game called Farkle. They play it with 11 dice. You roll them all and count up points as follows:

For one or two dice with the same value rolled in a single roll:
1: 100 points
2,3,4,6: 0 points
5: 50 points

For three dice with the same value rolled in a single roll:
1: 1000 points
2-6: 200-600 (100x face value)

For each additional number beyond three that you rolled in the same roll, you double the score of those dice. For example, four 2's are worth 400, five are worth 800. Six ones are worth 8000 points, etc. You can then reroll any non-scoring dice as long as on each roll you get more points (each roll is scored separately, but added to the total point count, so if you rolled three 1's on your first roll and one on your second, you have 1100 points, not 2000). If all your dice score points, you can roll all 11 again and keep adding them to your score. If you roll when you have four or fewer dice left and you don't get any 1's, 5's, or a three-of-a-kind, you Farkle, and turn passes to the next player. If you Farkle, you don't get to add your points to your score on the board.

Games are played to 20,000 or 25,000 points, I can't remember which. You must roll at least 2000 points to "get on the board" and start accruing points.

If you don't have enough points to get on the board, you must keep rolling until you do or you Farkle. If you are on the board, you can elect to stop rolling at any point, keep your points, and pass the dice (and the point total) to the next player. The next player can choose to continue (hoping that s/he can roll points and add to the passed score), or reroll all the dice. For example, say I rolled 2850 points and have 2 dice left. I choose to stop, add 2850 to my score, and pass the 2 dice to you. You figure that's a lot of points, and take the chance. You roll a 1 and a 5 (lucky!) for a total of 3000 points and now you have 11 dice to roll again and add to the score. Sometimes you can be passing a lot of points around. I've seen upwards of 7-8000 before someone finally Farkled.

26 Sept 2005: I received an email from Suze who said she knows this game as Greedy. So we know it has at least two names, now.

I've written a C++ program that lets you play Farkle, but it's just a simple command line application so far. I wanted to work out all the rules before going ahead and writing a graphical app. I found the scoring was fun to write (it goes up geometrically).
dice is a std::vector<int>, I use dice[1] through dice[6], and ignore dice[0]. For each number n I roll, I add one to dice[n]

for(int i=1; i<7; i++) {
	int faceValue = i;
	int quantRolled = dice[i];
		
	switch(quantRolled) {
		case 0: 
			break;			
		case 1:
		case 2:
			switch(faceValue) {
				case 1:
					total += 100 * quantRolled;
					break;
				case 5:
					total += 50 * quantRolled;
					break;
				default:
					nonScoringDice += quantRolled;
					break;
			}
			break;			
		default:
			double multiplier = pow(2, (quantRolled - 3));
			switch(faceValue) {
				case 1: 
					total += multiplier * 1000;
					break;
				default:
					total += multiplier * 100 * faceValue;
					break;
			}
			break;
	}
}

I could do something freaky at the end there like:

double multiplier = pow(2, (quantRolled - 3));
total += multiplier * faceValue * (faceValue == 1 ? 1000 : 100);

And just eliminate that last switch statement, but I don't like to confuse things like that. Sure, the ternary operator is fun to use, but it can get ugly when you start adding to it and making changes.

6 Comments »

6 Responses to “How To Play Farkle, the Dice Game”

  1. [...] Jake, in his Pirate Blog describes a version of Farkle he learned of, that uses not 6, not 7, not 8, not 9, not even 10 but [...]

  2. thezonie says:

    After my wife introduced me to Farkel I simply got addicted to it.

    So much so that I wrote my own version for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch.

    http://ifarkle.com/

    If you ever stop by and give it a try, any feedback would be greatly appreciated. :)

    Thanks!

  3. Scurvy Jake says:

    Thanks for coming by! I have an iPhone and just purchased iFarkle. I'll let you know what I think!

  4. DaveS says:

    For those interested.... I will be releasing a multi-player (mix of up to 6 human and or computer player) version of Farkle for the MAC in a couple of weeks.

    A screenshot is available at http://www.ivebeenthinking.biz/farkle_screenshot.jpg

  5. Eric says:

    Another iPhone version that your readers might be interested in is Index Dice. It can adapt to nearly any scoring variant (well, any that I knew about when I wrote it) as well as play with any number of players. I would love to have someone review it, since I think it addresses a common complaint that many people have about the other Farkle games - namely that it's missing some rule that they are used to and/or it doesn't score things the same way they are used to.

    http://www.baurhome.net/software/indexdice/index.html

    A comment about the code, however... I'll admit that mine is a lot more complicated. :-) I'm not sure there's any way around that, however, since I have to allow for arbitrary scores and different combinations possibly being off. It doesn't look like you are allowing for straights, right?

  6. Scurvy Jake says:

    That's correct, the version I learned doesn't include straights. With 11 dice, a straight is nothing special. Thanks for stopping by, I'll review your app shortly.

Leave a Reply