Dice Week Day 4: Ship, Captain, and Crew
Dice Week continues with a 5d6 dice rolling game
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Dice Week continues! Here are the games so far:
Today we are looking at a game called Ship, Captain, and Crew!
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This week is a series of five posts, each exploring a different dice game. The goal is to get some inspiration to use dice in a different way in your next game design. The side benefit is that you might find a new dice game that is fun to play on its own!
The fourth game is Ship, Captain, and Crew!
Ship, Captain, and Crew
Ship, Captain, and Crew is a public domain dice game and no designer is credited on the BGG page, although commercial versions do exist.
In some ways, this game is similar to the Midnight (a.k.a. 1-4-24) game we looked at yesterday. I appreciate the attempt at adding some theme to the mechanisms. Every little bit helps.
How to play
To play you’ll need five six-sided dice (5d6). Starting with the first player:
Roll the dice up to three total times.
For each roll:
If a 6 (ship) is rolled, it is removed and set aside.
If a 5 (captain) is rolled, it is removed and set aside.
If a 4 (crew) is rolled, it is removed and set aside
The ship, captain, and crew must be rolled in that order. If you have a ship (6) and no captain (5) and roll a crew (4), you can’t keep the crew. You’d need to get a captain first.
The value of the remaining two dice (2d6) is the player’s score for that round, called the cargo.
Failure to get a ship, captain, and crew (6-5-4) by the end of the rolls results in zero points for that round.
The winner is the player at the end of the round. Multiple rounds can be played, or play until a certain score is achieved.
There seems to be some jargon surrounding the game:
Hammer: The person who last threw the dice.
Point: The current winning score.
Minimum: The lowest score possible which is 2 (i.e. 2d6 = 1,1).
Midnight: Double sixes which would score 12 points.
Variations mostly involve if monetary betting or drinking is involved.
Garen Evans did a statistical analysis of Ship, Captain, and Crew using “conditional probability analysis, empirical analysis using Monte Carlo heuristics, and brute force tallies.” According to Garen, the probability of getting your ship, captain, and crew on the first 5d6 roll is 15.8%. Your chance of getting all three so you can score is about 54%.
These results differ from the Refusal Dice Ship, Captain, Crew Odds which seem to show the chance of getting all three on the first roll at about 32%.
I ran my own simulation in Python and it matches Garen’s results at 15.8% of getting a ship, captain, and crew on your first 5d6 roll.
Ideas & inspiration
How could we use this in game designs? Here are a few ways:
Cyberpunk hacking: This game is similar to Midnight so some of the same ideas apply. I think you could mix Midnight and Ship, Captain, and Crew to add variation and interest to hacking mechanisms. Some terminals or jobs might require only a 1 and 4 in any order, while others might require a 6, 5, 4 to be obtained in order. Almost adds a mini-game to hacking, which might work well in solo TTRPGs.
Sailing & Navigation: It’s hard to ignore the nautical theme with this game. Perhaps it could be used as a push your luck mechanism in a naval game. The final two dice could be used to generate events or represent the weather at sea. They could also represent some sort of supplies to maintain or repair the ship.
Stealth mechanism: Rerolls and push your luck games like this could be used for a stealth/sneaking system in a solo TTRPG. Rather than just normal Yahtzee-style mechanisms, you might be able to change the 6, 5, 4 requirements based on which guards are present.
Just like with Liar’s Dice, as more complexity and rules are added it becomes harder to work this into a TTRPG. On the other hand, I think this game has a lot of potential for integration into board games where immersion isn’t as important.
Some things to think about:
Yahtzee is everywhere. If you look at enough games, you start to see Yahtzee-style mechanisms in a lot of places. It’s a very popular mechanism.
Rerolling takes time. I’d caution that both rerolling and deciding if you want to roll again can really slow down a game. I’m not sure this would work well in multiplayer games.
Even a little theme can go a long way. I’m surprised at how just giving names to the dice can make a simple game seem a little more fun. Probably a good lesson from this game!
Dice Week continues tomorrow! See you then!
— E.P. 💀
P.S. Give me your best (clean) ship and nautical related jokes and puns in the comments! ⛵
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