Discovering the Joy of Yahtzee Through Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics

The millionaire, the mansion, the yacht!

Quoting the late Notorious B.I.G. as I shook my dice, I was two fives short of scoring a five-of-a-kind. Doing so would net me a whopping 50 points; easily the single largest point opportunity in the game. Though I’ve yelled the Biggie quote dozens of times with no luck, it finally paid off on this final throw. Five-in-a-row. 50 points. Jett wins.

Despite the immediate salt, my wife Steff calls for another rematch. We were already hours deep into this extended Yacht Dice session and would end up playing many more. I may have never discovered how fun Yacht Dice (better known as Yahtzee outside of the game) is had it not been for a series of events that led to me picking up Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics.

Yahtzee is a tabletop dice game where players take turns rolling five dice. Accompanied with a score sheet, your goal is to score the most points by creating Poker-like hands with your dice, such as 4-of-a-kind, straights, and the coveted 5-of-a-kind Yahtzee. You’ll roll the dice three times per round, keeping the values you want while re-rolling the rest in hopes of better results. After three rolls, you’ll cash in your dice for one of the 12 point categories. After 12 rounds, the player with the most points wins.

Even though a sizable part of the game comes down to the luck of your dice, you have a decent amount of control over the outcome. During your turn, choosing which dice to keep versus which to re-roll gives you a bit of time to aim for a desired result. Certain hands can score for multiple categories, allowing you to choose which category you want to score in. Even in situations where your hand doesn’t fit in any of the remaining categories, choosing which one to score as a zero can be the difference between winning and losing. As random as dice can be, I feel like I have enough control over the action to stay engaged throughout.

For most of my life, I’ve only known of Yahtzee as a boring game. Not through personal experience, but from the “word on the street”. I’ve always heard of it being lame, so I didn’t bother. Many years ago, I downloaded a Yahtzee app on my phone, but failed to understand the rules.

Since then, a few major events have occurred that have warmed me up to the idea of trying Yahtzee again. First and foremost, I discovered a wonderful dice game called King of Tokyo. Though it involves players assuming the roles of giant monsters as they battle for control over the city, it’s core roll-and-hold gameplay mechanic is directly lifted from Yahtzee. From one moment to the next, do you use your dice to attack others, heal yourself, or gather energy to unlock special powers? The decisions you make in Yahtzee may not sound as dramatic, but the core idea of choosing what to do with your dice each turn is the same.

Then came Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics. Though I was a fan of original, I wasn’t sure if I’d care for another go round in modern times. Much of what made the original compilation unique was that you couldn’t easily get those types of games in a digital and portable format. Since then, smartphones became a thing, and you can probably find free alternatives to most of the games within 51 Worldwide Classics.

What ultimately pushed me over the edge was watching Twitch streamer FireDragon play Yacht Dice on his stream. Having walked into the room while Steff was watching him play, the rules of Yahtzee finally made sense to me. With Steff having an interest in playing as well, I picked up the game later that afternoon.

We’ve since tried a number of other games within this compilation. Even so, Yacht Dice continues to be our go-to. I’m mad at myself for not giving this game an honest try sooner, but I’m glad to have it in my life now. Until I come up with more yacht-based lingo, I’ll continue to quote the words of the Notorious B.I.G. as I aim for my next 50.

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