How to Play
To preface this how to play section I will admit that these rules might not be 100% accurate due to the poorly written rulebook (more on this later). I tried my hardest to understand the rules and describe them here.
The object of the game is to be the first player to score 3000 points.
Each player begins their turn by rolling the five dice. During the first roll, one of five things can occur:
- If the player rolls one or two Scarney symbols, a scoring throw has occurred and the player receives 50 points for every Scarney symbol.
- If the player rolls three or more Scarney symbols, a bonus hand has occurred and the player can choose to re-roll the non-scoring dice to try and improve their score.
- If the player rolls three or more of one number and one or two Scarney symbols, a bonus hand has occurred. The player can re-roll the non-scoring dice to try and improve their score.
- If the player rolls three or more of a number but don’t roll any Scarney Symbols, they must re-roll the non-scoring dice to try and get a Scarney symbol.
- If none of the above occurred the player scores no points and their turn ends.
Scoring Bonus Hands
If a bonus hand includes one or two Scarney symbols, points are tallied based on the charts below. Each Scarney symbol is worth 50 points. If the player wants to press their luck they can re-roll the non-scoring dice to try and improve their score but they risk losing all of the points they have already earned if they don’t get extra points.
If a bonus hand has been formed but there are no Scarney symbols, the player gets to roll the non-scoring dice. If they are able to roll a Scarney symbol with the re-roll they score the points based on the table below. If they are unable to get a Scarney symbol but they create a another bonus hand, they can roll again in order to try and get a Scarney symbol. If they don’t get another bonus hand or a Scarney symbol, they lose all of the points acquired this round and their turn is over.
When scoring bonus hands the following chart is used.
Three of a Kind
Four of a Kind
Five of a Kind
- Any Number or Scarney-3,000
A player can end a round at any time as long as they have acquired at least 200 points. If the player chooses to stop they record their score on the scoresheet. If the player continues to roll the dice and ends up losing their turn they lose all of the points they had acquired during the current round.
Whoever reaches 3,000 points first, wins the game.
In 1972 Scarney 3000 was created by John Scarne, self proclaimed “World’s Foremost Game Authority”. After playing Scarney 3000, someone needs to really take that self awarded title away since Scarney 3000 is far from a good game.
Let’s begin with the single worst problem with the game, the rules. As I already mentioned in the how to play section, Scarney 3000 has to have some of the worst written rules I have ever encountered. The instructions are 11 pages long which is ridiculous for such a simple game. The rules could have easily been written on two or three pages. The rules are so poorly written and are just confusing to read. The rules keep repeating things over and over again and do a poor job explaining the more complicated parts of the game. The instructions are so poorly written I had to read some parts multiple times in order to understand them and I am still not 100% sure that I understand them.
What is so frustrating about the rules is that the game itself doesn’t seem that complicated. You essentially roll dice trying to make different combinations of dice in order to score points. This is essentially how almost all dice games are played. Here at Geeky Hobbies we have played and reviewed at least two very similar games in Easy Come Easy Go and Dungeon Dice. Scarney 3000 doesn’t really do anything to distinguish itself from the many other dice games that are available.
The only “unique” thing that Scarney 3000 does is including the “Scarney” side. In order to score any points you need to roll at least one Scarney. I found this addition to be pretty stupid. The biggest issue is that it eliminates most of the ways you typically can score points in a dice. In most dice games you can score points with runs, full houses and in other combinations. In Scarney 3000 the only way to score points is by rolling the same number on at least three different dice. This lack of variety in ways to score hurts the game since it pretty much takes away all of your ability to make a decision on what you want to do. You essentially only get to decide whether you want to press your luck.
Like most dice rolling games, the ultimate winner will be determined by luck. In a lot of dice rolling games you can use some strategy to reduce your risk/reliance on luck. Since you have few to any decisions to make in Scarney 3000, luck pretty much makes all of the difference in the game. Whoever is luckiest will win since you can’t employ any strategy to overcome bad luck.
While bad luck will keep you from winning, good luck could actually win you the game very quickly. In the “game length” section I mentioned that the game could take between one second and 15 minutes. While that was kind of a joke it is also true at the same time. The game is actually set up where you could win with one roll. If you roll five of any number or Scarneys you automatically win the game. So one player could win on their first turn. While I agree with rewarding a player who had a great roll, I think it is stupid that you can win the game so quickly. This actually occurred somewhat occurred in the game I played. One player ended up rolling five Scarneys and went from third place to winning the game with one roll.
If the rules and the reliance on luck was not bad enough, the quality of the components is not what I would call good. The game is over 40 years old but at least with the copy of the game I found at a thrift store, the components showed pretty significant signs of wear. I give the game credit for engraving the “pips” and the “Scarney symbols” which will help with reading the dice after the ink has faded/chipped off. That is especially important since at least with my copy of the game there was some moderate fading/chipping in the ink. Along with the below average dice, the dice cup is nothing special since my cup had a lot of dents in the bottom just from rolling the dice.
Simply put Scarney 3000 is not a good game. The rulebook is terrible which is surprising since the game itself is very simplistic. Scarney 3000 also suffers from relying way too heavily on luck. I am not a huge fan of dice rolling games but I know there are much better dice rolling games out there.
If you don’t like dice rolling games, stay far far away from Scarney 3000. Even if you like dice rolling games I would probably stay away from it since there are many similar games on the market that are superior. Honestly the only situation where I could recommend Scarney 3000 is if you find the game for a couple dollars at max and you are a big fan of dice rolling games.