Continuing with my project to create a list of great games you can play for free, this post features a dice game by Reiner Knizia. First published in 1990, the rules for Octo are described in the fabulous ‘Dice Games Properly Explained‘. What I loved about Octo when I first read the rules was the fact that at any point in the game, there will always be a player who is winning. Since it is in all the other players interest that this person is not winning for too long, they invariably group together and cheer each other along… until one of them is winning of course!
Number of players: 3 – 6
Playing time: 10 minutes
You will need:
- 8 dice
- A notepad to keep track of the scores
For each player’s turn, that player begins by rolling all eight dice. The player must then set aside at least one dice showing a particular number. For example, if the roll produced the numbers 1, 1, 2, 4, 4, 4, 5, 5; the two fives could be set aside. Following this, the player then must then decide whether to roll the remaining dice again or to finish the turn. If the player decides to roll the remaining dice again, then following the roll, they must again set aside at least one dice showing a particular number. If they fail to do this (e.g. if all dice show numbers that they have already set aside), their turn ends and they score no points. If the player decides to finish their turn, they score points equal to the total of all numbers set aside. Play progresses clockwise.
The aim of each player on each of their turns, is to score more points than the previous highest score. If no one can better the score set by one of the players over the course of a whole round (i.e. all players have a turn without the highest score changing), the player who set that score is the winner. When someone does better the highest score, that player has then produced the new highest score which subsequently becomes the new target for the other players.