Farkle

Written by Howard Fosdick © BestFreeNewGames.com

Overview: Farkle harkens back to the Middle Ages. Also known as 5000, 10000, and Zilch, its a great group game for 2 to 5 players. It works well with any odd number you might have ready, and you can explain the rules quickly.

As with any game of its antiquity, there are many Farkle variants. Here we’ll give one set of rules we’ve found to be highly enjoyable.


The Basics: You need a set of 6 dice to play Farkle. If you have dice cups, fine, but they’re not required. You do need a flat, contained area to throw the dice. Any number can play the game, though 2 to 5 seems to work best.

You can download our free scoring pad here.

Goal: The goal is to be the first person to attain a target score (usually 5000 or 10000, hence those names for the game). Be sure everyone agrees on the target score before you start playing!


Play: Once you determine who goes first -- typically by rolling a single die -- the play is straightforward. Each player in turn follows these steps --

  1. The player throws all 6 dice.
  2. The player sets aside any scoring dice he cares to.
  3. If the player does not have at least one scoring die to set aside from the throw, his turn ends and he loses any points thus far accumulated in the turn. This is called a farkle.
  4. If the player has one or more scoring dice to set aside after the throw, he may choose to continue throwing the remaining dice to accumulate more points. While he can add to his score by continuing, he also risks a farkle and loss of all points for the turn.
  5. If the player gets to the point where all 6 dice score points, he may choose to add to that score by taking up all 6 dice and continuing his turn. He can “roll on” like this for as many times as he scores all 6 dice. However, if he farkles and ends the turn, all score for the turn is lost.
  6. The person’s turn ends either when he chooses to voluntarily terminate it (retaining any score he has achieved) or when he farkles and loses all points for that turn.
  7. At the end of his turn, the player passes all dice to the next player, who then follows these rules for his own turn.


Scoring: Scoring is based on the dice you select for each roll. You can not earn points by combining dice from different rolls. Each roll is a separate scoring event.

Score points as per this chart:

---Dice------Points---
Each 550
Each 1100
Three 2's200
Three 3's300
Three 4's400
Three 5's500
Three 6's600
Three 1's1000

Dice can be scored however the player likes... he just states his preference. Making these decisions is a key part of the game. For example, if you roll 1-1-2-3-3-3 on your first throw, you could keep any, some, or all these combinations as scores, put them aside, and roll the remaining dice:

One 1 @ 100 points, two 1’s @ 200 points, three 3’s at 300 points

Of course you could also “stick” -- keep your current score and terminate your turn. Thus another key decision in the game is when to call it a hand and stop with your current score, and when to continue. Continuing could mean either a higher score for the hand, or an inglorious farkle that ends your turn without score.


End: The game ends when one or more players have exceeded the agreed-upon target score (usually 5,000 or 10,000).

Note that the game does not end immediately when one player has exceeded the target score. It only ends after at least one player has exceeded the target score and all remaining players have all had a chance to complete their last turn in that final round.

Whoever has the highest score over the game-ending target score wins the game.


Optional Bonus Scores: Probably the most popular rule variation in Farkle is simply to add more scoring combinations. Here are some of the most popular. Select which you’ll use from the list and their value by mutual agreement prior to starting your game:


---Dice------Points------Some People Play---
Four of a Kind2 times value of Three of a Kind2 times value of Three of a Kind
Five of a Kind4 times value of Three of a Kind3 times value of Three of a Kind
Six of a Kind6 times value of Three of a Kind4 times value of Three of a Kind
Three Pairs500750, 1000
Full Straight (1-2-3-4-5-6)15001000
Full House (eg, 2-2-3-3-3)15001000
3 Farkles in a row-10000, -500


-----------------------------------
Alternative Scoring:

As a folk game, scoring varies among different players in two key areas:
  1. Which optional Bonus Scores are included in the scoring
  2. What the value of those scores are

Make sure everyone in your group agrees upon the scoring system prior to play.


-----------------------------------
Tips for Play:

Start by playing the basic game and getting a feel for it. Then, you may wish to liven-up play by adding some of the Bonus Scores.

Luck rules, but you can definitely affect your score by knowing and playing the odds. Of course, sometimes you'll be forced to play more aggressively if you're behind, just as at other times you may choose to reduce your risk if you're ahead. Good luck!


-----------------------------------
Scoring Pad: You can download our free scoring pad here.

-----------------------------------
Sources: These rules were compiled from numerous internet sources.

Click here for the homepage and many more free games.

-----------------------------------
License: Feel free to print, copy, and distribute these rules, so long as you retain this paragraph. Written by Howard Fosdick © 2023, distributed under Creative Commons License BY-ND.      HOME