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First of all I must apologise for the title, some of you may have noticed that “THE EAZY” is in fact an anagram of “YAHTZEE”.
Many people would just take one look at the name of this game and automatically assume that it has an oriental origin, however, they would be wrong because it originated in Canada from a wealthy couple who remain un-named. They invented this game to play on their yacht and whenever friends were invited aboard, they were taught how to play the “yacht” game. Their friends enjoyed the game so much that they requested copies of their own.
In 1956, the couple approached Mr Edwin S. Lowe who was famous for making a fortune selling Bingo games in the 1920’s. They asked him to make a few samples so that they could give these as gifts to their friends and Lowe liked the game so much, that he put in an offer to buy the rights. A final agreement was made for the measly sum of the first 1,000 sets produced, just so that they could fulfil the requests from their friends. Lowe then changed the name of the game to “Yahtzee”.
The game was not an instant success, despite all of his efforts to advertise the game, it did not sell in the first year because it was difficult to adequately describe the game, so Lowe decided to throw Yahtzee parties and the game took off by word of mouth.
The Milton Bradley Company acquired the E. S. Lowe Company and Yahtzee in 1973 and today an astonishing 50 million Yahtzee sets are sold every year with an estimated 100 million people playing Yahtzee on a regular basis.
So, what is Yahtzee? Yahtzee could be simply described as a game of both luck and skill, although primarily it is a game of luck. All you will ever need to play this game is 5 regular dice and a sheet of paper to write down your scores. The rules in it’s simplest form is that you have 3 rolls of the dice to try and form one of a number of predefined dice patterns. On the first roll, you roll all 5 dice and then decide which of the dice you want to hold and which of the dice you want to roll again, you take your
second roll the decide again which dice you want to re-roll. At this stage, you may un-hold any of the dice that you have previously held and re-roll again for the final time. You do not have to roll the 3 times allowed, if you roll one of the predefined patterns before your third roll, you may take this score immediately. It is then the next players turn to try and roll a pattern.
There are 13 predefined patterns in total and they are aces, twos, threes, fours, fives, sixes, 3 of a kind, 4 of a kind, full house, low straight, high straight, yahtzee and chance. These are arranged on your score-sheet from top to bottom with the game numbers from left to right. Typically there are 5 games (columns) to a game of Yahtzee meaning that you may roll the same pattern no more than 5 times in the overall game. I first played this game around twenty years ago and have seen many versions, ranging from 3 columns up to 6 columns, so there does not seem to be any standard to the number of columns.
The first six of the patterns, aces through sixes are collectively known as the upper section and score points by simply adding together the number of the matching dice that you roll, so for example, if you have rolled four dice with six spots on them, you would ignore the 1 remaining die and put a score of 4*6 = 24 in the sixes column. You can get a bonus of 35 points if the total of your upper section is 63 or higher, why 63? Well, if you manage to roll 3 of each of the matching numbers for the aces through sixes, you would score (3*1)+(3*2)+(3*3)+(3*4)+(3*5)+(3*6)=63 so it is a good target to try and get 3 matching dice for each of the first six patterns.
With the ‘3 of a kind’ and ‘4 of a kind’ patterns, you need to try and get 3 of the dice to match and 4 of the dice to match respectively and with each you add together all of the dice including the non-matching dice to get your score, so for example if your rolled 6,6,6,1,3 your score in the ‘3 of a kind’ row would be 6+6+6+1+3=22.
The ‘Full House’ pattern always scores 25 points and consists of a ‘3 of a kind’ and a pair, so for example if your roll 5,5,5,1,1 this would be a full house.
The ‘Low Straight’ pattern always scores 30 points and consists of a run with four of the dice, so either (1,2,3,4), (2,3,4,5) or (3,4,5,6) would be a low straight. The ‘High Straight’ pattern in similar fashion to the low straight always scores 40 points and consists of a run with all five of the dice, so either (1,2,3,4,5) or (2,3,4,5,6) would be a high straight.
The ‘Yahtzee’ pattern always scores 50 points and consists of all 5 of the dice matching, so (2,2,2,2,2) would be a yahtzee.
The ‘Chance’ pattern is for use when no other suitable pattern is rolled and the score is determined by adding together the value of each of the die, so for example if you rolled (6,6,5,5,2) you would score 24 points. Use the chance’s wisely because there are occasions where luck is not on your side and you are unable to roll an available pattern and this results in a score of 0 points in a pattern of your choice.
There is a ‘Yahtzee Bonus’ score. If you have previously rolled a Yahtzee, any subsequent Yahtzee you roll will score you a bonus of 100 points, however, if your previous entry in the ‘Yahtzee’ was a 0, then you will not qualify for this bonus.
Finally, there are ‘Yahtzee Jokers’, if all of your ‘Yahtzee’ entries have been filled and you then roll a yahtzee, you still qualify for the ‘Yahtzee Bonus’ and you may put the score in ‘3 of a kind’, ‘4 of a kind’ or ‘Chance’ with a score of adding the dice together or you may put the score in the ‘Full House’, ‘Low Straight’ or ‘High Straight’ pattern. Personally, I think it is quite strange to include the low and high straights because they are nothing like a yahtzee but it is in the official rules.
When you have filled a column (game), you add together your upper and lower scores to get your game score. At the end of the overall game, adding together your game scores will give you your grand total score.
If you are new to the game, this may sound rather complicated but after playing a couple of games, the rules should become second nature. Now I have a better understanding of the advertising problems that Mr Lowe faced in the 1950’s and why he decided to host Yahtzee parties.
MB Games recommend that the game is suitable for people of the age of 8 years and upwards and for one or more players. In my opinion, I would say that it is suitable for a lower age because it is a fun way of encouraging children to develop their mental arithmetic skills. Although you can play this game alone, I would recommend playing with at least two people as it is much more fun with a group of people. A typical game would last around an hour based on two people playing 5 columns (games) so I would say that between 2 and 4 people is a good number of players, any more than that, then the game may take too long to play and attention spans start to wilt.
For such a simple concept, the game provides hours of fun among family and friends. At times the game will to prove to be challenging and rely on skill and good judgement with picking the right patterns at the right time, as well as having a lot of luck.
The only real disadvantage to the game is that depending on whether you use a beaker/glass to shake the dice, the game can be rather noisy and this all depends on your opponents, children tend to like making lots of noise. I have played people in the past who insist on give the dice 10 or more shakes in a plastic beaker and that does tend to irritate me.
This game is available in many different formats and many different variations. You will find this game available for your PC from many different companies to buy as a boxed game, as shareware and as freeware. The game is also available on literally all computers/consoles and as a hand-held game too. You will also find many different versions of the game available in tangible form, amazon and other toy distributors have many versions available ranging from £6.99 for the standard game up to £15.99 for the deluxe versions.
If you don’t already own a version of Yahtzee, I would thoroughly recommend it, especially for those long rainy days.
Great review, I haven't played this for years!!! :O)
teacherofhooch 05.06.2004 23:05
I did enjoy this review, We used to play this a lot during the 70' or 80's we used to have card night on a Sunday night with our friends, sometimes we had yahtzee nights instead. Why I always rolled all those sixes I'll never know!
and yes it is suitable for children to help them add up I find a soft flat felt cloth helps with the noise and they do not roll off the table. I am sure the children do that on purpose knowing that I will not pick the die up. Then they try to tell me any number they want! Linda