Game-in-a-post: Sid Sackson's Solitaire dice

Sid Sackson, in his book A Gamut of Games1, describes a solitaire dice game that I have grown very fond of. Fond enough that I decided to whip up a little js version of it, found below. I won’t go into the rules here, others have done that well enough. I will just put a couple of thoughts out there on why I find the game so compelling. Dice are obviously the epitome of randomness; roll-and-move mechanics are universally bemoaned for this. Games that try not to be awful while still using dice generally do so with some sort of randomness mitigation technique. Yahtzee is an easy example – a player gets three rolls to a turn to mitigate luck. Sackson’s Solitaire Dice does not offer any mitigation, and in fact it can be brutal. You could theoretically lose 400 points on your last turn. And while this sounds objectively terrible, it really isn’t. Occasionally you will have a game where the dice just torture you, but for the most part the game forces you to think about probabilities, and attempt to control pacing. If the game is going really well, you may want to try to blow one of your scratch piles up toward the game-ending 8 marks. Similarly, if things aren’t going great, it would probably be in your best interest to take poorly-scoring pairs in order to scratch dice evenly. In my plays thus far, I’d say that a meh game is in the -100-100 point range, a successful game being 350+.

Sum -200 0 Score Points Total Scratch ones
2 100 0
3 70 0 Scratch twos
4 60 0
5 50 0 Scratch threes
6 40 0
7 30 0 Scratch fours
8 40 0
9 50 0 Scratch fives
10 60 0
11 70 0 Scratch sixes
12 100 0
Total 0

  1. In my 1982 Pantheon (NY) edition, the game is described on page 169. ↩︎

this post is part of the series, game-in-a-post:
  1. Yz (or, on post-specific JS/CSS requirements in Hugo)
  2. Dim Corridor
  3. Sid Sackson's Solitaire dice
  4. Rolling Market