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Which Push Your Luck Game Is For You?

push your luck game yahtzee

Push your luck is likely my favourite mechanic in a game. There is a thrill associated with seeing whether you holding your nerve for just one more roll of the dice will reward you beyond your wildest dreams. Or whether Lady Luck will look down at you, snigger, and pull the rug out from underneath you. The excitement of this is something that I will continue to enjoy forever, and it is also something that we have found great success with other people enjoying too. There is I guess a reason that Las Vegas is such a popular place, humans love the thrill of the gamble. However, a much cheaper and safer way for that thrill is to play a Push Your Luck Game. Here is the definitive list to help you choose the best game for you and your family or game group.

For Those With A Tight Budget

If you are looking for a smaller game that you could perhaps gift to a friend or purchase for travel then look no further than the original push your luck game in my opinion, Yahtzee. This is a parlour game that is quite honestly timeless. On your turn you roll five dice, and after, you can keep what you rolled or re-roll as many of the dice as you wish. You can re-roll a second time, but after that third roll you are locked in with whatever the dice gods have given you.

Once you have your dice you must select in which category to score, you can only score each section once, so you want to ensure that you maximise your score. The categories can be sets of a certain number, three of a kind, or more complex things such as a full house which is 3 of one and 2 or another kind. If you manage to roll five of a kind then you have rolled the sacred Yahtzee! These are worth big points, but they also come with bragging rights.

For Those Who Love A Laugh

If you want to get yourself some hilarity in with your push your luck games, then look no further than Pass the Pigs. You will be rolling little pig figures and scoring based on how they land. Things will descend into giggles very quickly as you shout pig positions at each other. You can keep rolling as many times as you like, trying to accumulate as many points as possible. Standing on its legs is a Trotter, both standing on their feet is a Double Trotter and worth 20 points. If they land on their ear, that is the coveted Leaning Jowler, worth a sweet 15 points just on its own, but the double is worth 40 points. Thing is though that the most likely position is pigs lying on their sides, and each pig has a dot on one side and a blank side. If you have two dots showing or two blanks, then you get one singular point, not ideal, but you are still in the game! But if you end up with one spotted and one blank, then you have thrown a “pig out” and that means not only is your turn over, but you also lose all the points you accrued so far. Which honestly is just punishment for you thinking you could beat the pig-chucking-spirits.

This is one of my favourite travel games, I remember many a holiday travelling on the ferry to France throwing these piggies around as we all erupted into laughter at the different positions. Even better though is the inflatable outdoor version, get me to a garden party in a sunny English Country Garden ASAP.

For Those Looking For Excitement

If you want something high energy, fun for the whole family and completely sky-high enjoyment levels, then look no further than the King of Tokyo series. These games are a dice chucking battle to the death where each player embodies a fictional monster standee and tries to smack hits on the other monsters, keep yourself alive and grab yourself some star points. The winner is either the last person standing or the first to 20 stars.

In this game you will be rolling a set of chunky dice and trying to secure the best thing for you. These custom D6 dice have six different faces; 1, 2, 3, a lightning bolt symbol (for collecting resources to buy power cards), a smash symbol (for beating up other monsters) and a heart symbol (for healing yourself). If you decide to go for the star victory, then you will need to roll a set of three of the same number. A set of 1’s is worth 1 star, a set of 3s is worth 3 stars. If you are going all out aggression then rolling a hefty dose of smash icons will help you out, or you could collect up some lightning bolts to get yourself some powerful cards to tip the scales in your favour. If you are starting to hurt a bit then you might want to heal up to live to fight another day. This is a game about risk and reward. You can shoot for the moon and pray you roll what you need, or else you can make what you rolled work best for you. You get two re-rolls where you can try to improve your standing. The strategy comes in choosing what to shoot for, which dice should you keep and which should you reroll.

I wholeheartedly believe that this game is the perfect gateway game. I think it is the kind of game that makes people excited about modern board games. We have had a blast teaching this to friends young and old, it has a hefty dose of excitable shouts and sighs when you gambled it all and ended up losing to lady luck. If you have a few friends you think might be cool to game with then please do not hesitate to try them with King of Tokyo.

For Those Who Like Engineering The Demise Of Their Friends

For some of us, watching others go down is part and parcel of the fun. I reckon we all have a bit of the Schadenfreude knocking about in our brains every so often, and sometimes you need to let your inner Mr Hyde out so you can continue life as the ball of loveliness you usually are. For people wanting an outlet for their meanness in their push your luck game, then look no further than Deep Sea Adventure. This is a push your luck game which very quickly will descend into how quickly you can drown your mates.

You are divers that are leaving the submarine and diving down to grab treasure. The pesky part is that you are all sharing the same oxygen supply. Once anyone picks up treasure, they start using up more oxygen lugging that heavy gold back up to the submarine. This is where the danger for everyone else starts, you need to get back up to the surface, but as the deeper you go, the further it is back up, pushing your luck at the depths will really hurt you in your race to get back. This will be when despite your best blowing on the dice before you roll, you will continue to roll snake eyes time and time again.

If you do not manage to get to the submarine safely before the oxygen runs out then you get to keep all the treasure you collected. If you are still in the water when the oxygen hits zero though, your treasure is going to land at the bottom of the ocean. You get nothing, but you do get to fight another day and your fellow divers rescue you to participate in the next round. The absolute stinger in the tail though is that you don’t know the value of what you have collected until the end of the round. There have been many a time I have thought I’ve collected a bunch of loot only to end up with a measly one point for my efforts. That is all part of the fun though isn't it, the gamble!

For Those Who Want Something Magical

Quacks of Quedlinburg is far and away one of my favourite push your luck games. In this game you are witch doctors in a medieval German village creating all manner of potions to cure all the diseases. During the game you will be pulling tokens out of your bag and placing them into your cauldron, always making sure that you have 7 or less in the white chits (cherry blossoms). If you get more than 7 in white tokens then your pot has exploded, and you must stop pulling tokens from your bag. Your round is not over however, as you are still able to collect either money to buy better tokens for your bag, or victory points. If you elect to stop before you explode, then you will be able to collect both the points and the cash! Unlike the others in this list, you are not really punished too hard for pushing your luck too far. Additionally there is a catch up mechanism which helps further to keep the nail biting tension up until the final round. It will be close in points every single game, which is what adds to the fun.

Each colour of token that you pull from your bag has a different ability, this may be an end of the round scoring ability or it may be an in game ability, all will help you progress further and further round the cauldron each round, scoring more points and buying bigger and badder chits each time too. At the end of each round you will take the money that you gain each round and buy yourself up to two new tokens to put in your bag. These will likely have higher powered abilities than your base tokens and above all else will dilute the white tokens in your bag to hopefully give you better scores in later rounds.

If you want an evergreen push your luck game that can grow with your family or game group, then you simply cannot go wrong with Quacks of Quedlinburg, either the base box or the Big Box if you really trust me! The expansions are also great, they add a fifth player and a bunch of extra content.

That concludes my list of great push your luck games, hopefully you have found one that tickles your fancy, and if you have why not share it with me, I’d love to hear.

Editors note: This post was originally published on 25th May 2023. Updated on 3rd April 2024 to improve the information available.