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Article:    Yahtzee

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Yahtzee is an often overlooked game that is slightly complex to learn for children, but once understood, it's a quick and easy game that is addictive!

The original "board game" is designed for multiplayers--the idea is to take turns and try to get the highest score. However, the electronic handheld Yahtzee proves that the game is perfect for independent play. Players simply try to get their high score.

coverClassic. Yahtzee basically plays as follows: Players roll 5 dice at once. They have 3 chances to make their best roll to use in one of the many categories on the score sheet. If all five are the same, they've rolled a Yahtzee. At the top of the score sheet are spaces for each number, 1-6. If players manage to get three 6's, they can choose to score 18 (3 x 6) in their 6 spot. If the other two numbers are 4 and 5, they might choose to use their score in one of the bottom categories, for "3 of a kind"--in this category, they can add up all the dice and they'll make 27. If they've rolled three 6's and two 5's, they can choose to score a "Full House". Each category can only be used once, so if their 6, full house, or 3 of a kind categories have already been taken, they might need to use the roll in their "Chance" category. If that has been used, they might need to scratch a column altogether, or use the roll as zero 1's. 

Although luck is a huge factor in the game, strategy is quite high as well. Yahtzee is a quick game--but that doesn't mean it's easy for children to learn. I quickly discovered this when I attempted to explain what I thought was an extremely easy game to a ten-year-old. The reason for this is that there are a lot of basic rules, as well as "and's, if's, and but's", but children about 9 and up will enjoy the game once they've figured out the basic rules.

The official game of Yahtzee consists only of 5 dice, a shaker, bonus chips, and a score pad. If you know the rules, scoring categories, and own a set of 5 dice, you can easily play the game without purchasing the set. I've actually printed out a score card, had it laminated, and used it with non-permanent markers. 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Yahtzee]


The Yahtzee software program is well done, although it's not portable unless you own a laptop. Even if you're playing it on a laptop, it's not as easy to start your electronic game of Yahtzee as it is with the electronic handheld (below). Still, the Yahtzee CD-ROM is easy to use and features game variations that are quite pleasant. The dice are 3D, the sound effects are realistic, and the game can be played against a computer or human opponent. Records are kept, and there is a fun "instant odds" option that lets you see the probability of rolling certain combinations. The CD is well done, but the nature of the game makes it a little clunky transferred to the computer. 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Yahtzee & Sorry Twice The Fun (Jewel... CD-ROM]


coverTop Pick. Electronic Handheld Yahtzee by Milton Bradley is fantastic. It's perfect to have on hand whenever you are bored--in a waiting room, on the bus or plane, and so forth--and it's very durable. Press the "roll" button, and the combination is clear on the LCD screen. Players "hold" particular dice by pressing the corresponding yellow buttons beneath each, and they roll whatever die/dice they haven't held. The handheld keeps track of high scores. The machine tallies up your scores--my only complaint, though, is that you don't get to see the scores in each of the individual categories in the top level, which means you have to rely on memory for figuring out if you are below, on, or above par for scoring your bonus points. 

The game can be played with or without the sound, and the "mute" option is absolutely necessary...especially if you're an adult and playing the game in public! We've found the handheld unusually durable, and it doesn't drain the battery quickly at all (it takes 1 AAA battery, included, which seems to last forever). Each game is very quick, but if you need to put your game on hold, the automatic shut-off feature is great, and the game "remembers" where you left off! Excellent, portable fun.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Electronic Handheld Yahtzee Game ]




















May 2003

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