Farkle Dice – Palm OS Game


I’m a bit of an odd-ball. I prefer Dr Pepper over colas. I prefer ‘Mythbusters‘ or ‘Good Eats‘ to ‘Survivor’ or ‘Desperate Housewives’. I even kinda like mini-vans and don’t like iPods so much. Worse, I prefer dice games to card games [hanging my head in shame]. I’ve always enjoyed a category of dice game called ‘10,000‘- although it has many other names, like ‘Cosmic Wimpout’. The premise is that you roll six dice, take your score, then either roll again or pass the dice to the next player. Every time you roll, you can add to your score for the round. The catch is that if you cannot score on a roll, you loose the points for the round. First person to a given total (such as 10,000 points) wins! A simple enough game, but one that can get very interesting in the play strategy.

I have long liked a simple little game from Kim Molgaard called ‘Ten Thousand‘, which no longer seems to be available to buy. The rules and game-play are simple, and it barely takes any resources at all. Combine it with a registration fee of only $5.95 and makes a program that I play almost daily. OK, if I can’t have my Ten Thousand, and if the freeware Palm version of ‘Cosmic Wimpout‘ is not as much fun as the real version, then what, oh what can I play on my PDA?

If you read the title of the review, you probably already figured out the answer. (Hmmm, I probably could have made that a more challenging question!) Smart Box Design’s ‘Farkle Dice’ is a great version of the game that costs just $14.95 and takes only 676Kb of memory. Considering how many variations of the real-life game there are, there are surprisingly few Palm versions available!

Opening Screen

Farkle Dice has a great version of this game. It has nice graphics, a simple set of options and preferences, simple but fun animation, and a choice of players with very different styles. Sure, you can play a ‘real’ game of Farkle for almost nothing with just six die, a score pad, and a set of rules like these or these, or even these, but in its defense, the computer-based game will never loose a die or mess up the scoring!

Playing screen, Wow 1000 points!

3 of a kind gets you the face times 100 points, with Aces counting as 100- so the other player picks up an easy 1000 points, and then decides to quit and pass the dice to me.

Pushed too far, got Farkled!

A FARKLE is the result of rolling the dice and not getting anything you can score from. You loose all of your points from this turn. As you can see on the next screen shot, you can select how many points you need to earn to get on the board. Since it is set to 500, I had to keep rolling to try to get that many points… and I didn’t make it!
This is what makes this category of game fun and challenging- deciding whether to roll again or not. It is an easy choice when you are far ahead, desperate to catch up, or need to get on the board. When you are trailing by a hundred points, and there are only 2 die left to roll- do you do it? With only 2 die left you need either a 1 or a 5 on at least one of them or you are going to get Farkled… but you need the points. Push, or pass? Play safe or take a risk? Go for the gold, or be a goat… knowing full well that you might end up the goat anyway?

Game Setup Screen, Game Preferences Screen

Not a lot of options- everything is pretty straightforward and I have not had to look at the manual once. This is a good thing. The included ‘Read Me’ covers installation and points you to the website for more help. The info on-line is nicely put together and helpful.

Farkle Dice does not offer explosions, triumphant fanfares, or even the satisfaction of solving a puzzle like a good tough Sudoku game… but it is still a lot of fun. It is one of the relatively few Palm games that allow you to easily combine human and computer players in almost any combination (up to 4), and is easy to pass back and forth with another human. The game-play is easy enough that the other players do not need to know much about using a Palm to be able to work the game well.

Shortcomings? The only thing I don’t like about this game is that it does not give you a lot of points for 3 pairs. Most versions give you 1,000 or more points for this while Farkle Dice only gives 500. One tool you can use to evaluate the workings of a computerized dice game is the randomness of the rolls- ‘random’ is hard for a computer to deal with. My favorite versions of ‘Ten Thousand’ (mentioned above) and ‘Yahdice‘ both show tendencies towards patterns of dice rolls. Farkle Dice rolls seem much more random… I don’t know if this is a ‘pro’ or a ‘con’ since the rolls in the other two games tend to favor me!

Smart Box Design offers a good trial policy (no nags or limitations), and an easy to use website for registering the software. (FYI: This review was done with the trial version.) They offer several other good games you may be interested in as well at their homepage.

I like this game. I think it is a fair price, and it plays great. If you are another odd-ball who likes dice games that can be played and won in a few minutes, and that combine the need for luck, strategy, and nerves of steel, I think you’ll like it too!


Product Information

Manufacturer:Smart Box Design
  • Easy to learn
  • Good gameplay
  • Fair dice rolls
  • Only 500 points for 3 pair
{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Julie March 22, 2007, 9:04 pm

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  • reidme March 23, 2007, 5:18 pm

    Nice review. I downloaded the trial and may end up buying it. The graphics and sounds are pleasing, but I do wish it had a few more options for variations of the game. The game I’m used to uses 5 dice and extra matches double the score. For example, three twos is 200 points, four twos is 400 points, and five twos is 800 points. That means five ones is a whopping 4000 points! 😀

    Another feature of the non-virtual game is your friends chiding you as a chicken if you cop-out for an easy score. A real man always rolls that last dice!

  • madkins007 March 27, 2007, 3:29 am

    Reidme- I have not done it with the 5 die version, but we’ve done the variation with
    3 of a kind = 100 times the value
    4 of a kind = 100 times the value, doubled
    5 of a kind = doubled again
    6 of a kind = automatic loss! (It seems to me this version is called ‘blotto’ or something like that.)

    I’m with ya on the variations- I wish more games offered more play variations. For example, if I ever find a Backgammon game that could handle ‘Acey Duecy’, I’m getting it!

    I’m also with ya on the ‘chicken’ aspect. Somehow, it seems as if these non-virtual games (what do you call them, something like ‘reel life’?) always have some aspects that the virtual games miss- human interaction, for example. I can’t stand poker-type games in the virtual world- remove the humans and I think you rip the heart out of certain games.

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