A Round-Up of Sports Dice Games

11 Oct

As a board game collector and player, there are themes that excite me more than others.  One of the themes that always draws at least passing interest for me is sports.  I love sports, well, most of them…no matter how many times I try, and how often people try to tell me I’m wrong, I can’t get into soccer, but that’s besides the point right now.

I love the strategy involved in  personnel choices, I love the series of 1-on-1 battles that can happen during the course of a game, and I love seeing the technique involved in playing sports at the highest level.

…or that.

As I’ve really started to take time organizing my large and out of control collection I came to a realization – I have a lot of sports games.  It seems that if I see a game with a sports theme, and it looks interesting at all, I buy it.  I guess at some level, I want to try and have those same experiences I love in watching sports for myself at the gaming table.

I also have a fondness (weakness) for dice games.  There is something about grabbing a handful of dice, and throwing them across the table that I still find rather exciting.  I always believe that a little bit of random in a game is a good thing.  A whole lot of random in a game can also be fine, if the end result is a fun experience.

It’s where these two worlds collide that I want to focus on in this post.  As I started organizing things, I discovered a number of sports-themed dice games.  I thought I would take a look at a few of them here, and see if they reflect their sports accurately at any level at all.  I’m hoping over time to add more games to this article.  The article is organized (as well as it can be) by sport.

Last updated 10/12/2013

Auto Racing Dice Games

Go 500 by GoZone Games

The “Go” dice series started with Golo Golf…which you’ll read about in another section.  Since it’s release, they’ve expanded the line to include Basketball, Football, Shopping (Shopping?), and Auto Racing games.  I do not yet have Basketball or Football, and have heard quite mixed things (read: negative) about them.

Go 500 is supposed to simulate a NASCAR style auto race.  In fact, the game feels more like Mille Bornes, the Dice Game.

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To start, set the red and yellow dice aside, and roll all the others.  The goal in a turn is to drive as many miles as you can without wrecking. First, you check the white die – if the flag is green, then you may set aside as many other dice as you want to “bank” those miles.  You can then re-roll any remaining black / green dice, and the white die.  The green die is known as a power die because it has higher possible results than the black dice.  It does have the possibility of coming up as a flat tire, which means you cannot use it during this turn.

If you ever roll a yellow or a red flag, then bad things can happen.  In either case, you can no longer keep rolling the black / green dice (you do get to count whatever is currently face up during this turn).  Both the red and yellow dice may reduce the number of miles you can drive on a turn (red is way worse than yellow), but there are also special events that may occur.  On the yellow die, you may roll the caution light: which brings the number of miles the leader has gone down to even with the second place driver.  On the red die, there is the danger of a crash.  If a crash happens, everyone rolls the crash die.  Anyone that rolls the big X is out of the race.

Overall, this is a pretty fun, light push-your-luck dice game.  The racing theme is light, but it is there.  While the special sides don’t come up often, even 1-2 times can cause pretty large swings in momentum…which can be a hallmark of NASCAR racing.  I enjoy this one.

Bowling Dice Games

Bowling Dice by Fundex

Bowling dice games have been around since the 1940s.  The most well-known is called Spare Time Bowling, and most editions came with a very cool bowling pin shaker / dice cup.  Sadly, I no longer have that edition.  The Bowling Dice game I have is by Fundex.  It is virtually the same game, with some slight modifications (namely the removal of split dice results).

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To play Bowling Dice, you simply roll all 10 dice, and look at the results.  On the first ball, if you roll an X on ANY die, you got a strike (I’m assuming the readers either know how to score bowling, or can learn, and am therefore not going into how to do that here).  I didn’t look at every die, but I assume, based on game play, that only 3-4 dice have X sides on them.  If you do not roll an X, then you look for any dice that show pins (if you roll / results on the first roll, treat them like blank sides).  Those are pins you haven’t knocked down yet.  You then grab all those dice, and roll them again.  If you roll a / on this roll, you’ve automatically picked up the spare.  If there is no /, then you see if you left any pins standing, and score accordingly.

This feels like you are playing a game of bowling, even if it is totally luck based.  Perhaps it’s the nostalgia talking, but I did enjoy breaking out the bowling dice, and throwing a few frames again.  I need to find a copy of Spare Time to compare / contrast it sometime.

Golf Dice Games

Golo Golf by GoZone Games

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This is not a good roll.

Golo Golf is a nifty little push-your-luck dice game.  Included are nine 12-sided dice.  2 red, 2 blue, 5 white.  The red dice symbolize par-3 holes, the blue dice are par 5s, and the white dice are par 4s.  Players will be playing 9 holes at a time.  A player rolls all the dice at once.  The goal of golf, of course is to score the lowest score possible.  After the roll, the player studies the dice.  They MUST set aside / freeze at least one die, but may set aside as many as they’d like.  That’s really about it, players go until all 9 dice are set aside, then they total their scores.  A full round is 18 holes, so each player should get 2 full turns in a game.

Golo Golf is very simple, and doesn’t really simulate golf very well.  With that being said, I think it’s a fun little game.  There are ways to play the game safe, and there are some ways to really push your luck should you find yourself behind as the round comes to a close.  Just that small bit of risk taking is enough to satisfy me in a game of this style.

Sports Dice: Golf by Hoyle

This game is a slight cheat, because there is a board involved, however, the game is almost totally based on dice rolling, so I put it here.

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Hoyle made a series of sports themed dice games back in 1995: Golf, Basketball, Football, and Baseball.  I have the dice for Baseball and Basketball, but no boards or rules.  Interestingly, this game has the ABC Wide World of Sports logo emblazoned on the box and the board.

This game is very simple to play.  To drive off the tee, you choose your club, roll all three dice, and choose two of them.  Check the chart on the board to see how far you hit the ball, and then count out on the board where you land.  From the fairway, you don’t get the third die, so you must live with your rolls.  There is a special action die which you may, but do not have to use.  There are a couple sides to that die which are useful, but enough are so bad, I can’t imagine why anyone would use it, except in the most dire of situations.

065There are some fairly major issues with this small game.  First of all, putting is a complete mess.  Once you hit the green, you are either at the edge of the green – 12 spaces (feet) away from the cup.  Or near the center, where you are 2 or 3 spaces away.  Outside of 6 spaces, you roll two dice, and take the result as is.  Within 6 feet, you can roll both dice, and choose the best result.  This happened to me tonight: I’m at the edge of the green, my first roll is a 3…so I hit the ball 3 feet on a 12 foot putt.  I now need a 9 or 10 (the cup straddles two spaces, making it a bit easier to hit).  I roll an 8, just short.  So now, I just need a 1 or a 2 to tap it in.  I roll a 5 and a 6.  So, from 1 foot away, I just hit the ball to the very back edge of the green.  I took 6 putts from 12 feet.

The second issue I had was that the board is so small, it’s really hard to just count up distances.  Each line on the course is 20 yards, but some of them get lost in hazards, there are red dots, and yellow dots littering the course and it’s just sometimes tough to figure out where you’re supposed to end up.

Finally, and it’s stunning coming from Hoyle – the rules are pretty bad.  There were several times in our 3-hole demo game where we just couldn’t find the right rule to explain our situation.  I did not enjoy this game very much at all.

Teed Off by Pleasantime Games

002Teed Off is a basic remake of a classic 5-die golf dice set. The basics of this game are really simple.  Each die corresponds to a different part of a golf hole.  There is a scoresheet included in the game to show if a hole is a par 3 4 or 5.   First off, players roll the red die, that’s the drive.  It will either show you a distance, or some sort of event (Bunker, out of bounds etc).  Next up, you roll the yellow die.  Then Blue, then White until one of the dice tells you that you’re on the green, at which point you (SURPRISE!) roll the green die.  You then count up how many strokes it took you to get the ball in the hole, and go on to the next hole.  Low score after 18 holes wins the game.

There are many MANY variations of 5-Die Golf (in fact, this whole article was inspired by a copy of 19th Hole Dice…which I can’t yet find in my basement).  This is the only one I know of offhand that actually includes a result for Par 3s.  There is one thing that sets this version apart from all the others… the dice cup.

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Yes, the dice cup / shaker is a giant golf ball!  How cool is that??  I don’t think Teed Up is a great representation of golf, but it isn’t a horrible game.  It’s almost a perverse Disaster Golf variant, because it’s virtually impossible to not have something go horribly wrong on every hole. On second thought, based on my real-life golfing skills…this is actually the most accurate game I’ve played yet!

Lacrosse / Hockey Dice Games

ChalkTalk Sports: Lacrosse and Hockey by ChalkTalk Sports

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I’m linking these two games together because they are, fundamentally, the same game.  The only actual differences in the game are some of the terminology on the dice, and the number of times the dice are rolled in each quarter.

Basically, each player chooses the two dice of their preferred color.  Each player has one colored die with white text, and a white die with colored text.  The colored die is your offensive die, the white die is defense.  The player that starts the game on offense rolls first.  If they roll the “Goal” side, they score a point.  Yes, it’s that easy.  If they roll “Penalty” the defense now gets two free offensive rolls.  If they roll anything else, then the defender rolls their defense die.  If they roll “Goal” the offense scores, any other result is a save.  The number of turns the game lasts depends on which game you’re playing 18 for hockey, 16 for lacrosse.

This is the lacrosse game, see all the differences??

These games are what I would consider the low point in sports dice games.  There’s just nothing here to latch onto, no matter how hard you may try.  During the hockey game, we had a 4-3 score after the 1st period, at which point my opponent said “It’s like the Bluejackets playing the Bluejackets!”  While not as true today as it was a year or so ago, it gets at the fact that these games have nothing to do with the sports they are based on.  There is just one redeeming factor for these games…their packaging.

048Seriously, how cool are these mini duffle dice bags?  If they were just a bit bigger, they’d be great for carrying a set of dice in.

Thanks for taking a look!  And, if you know of any more dice sports games I should look at, please let me know in the comments!!

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