With these 5 dart games you will ensure maximum variety at the next darts evening with your friends.
Most people probably associate darts with the image of a rustic corner pub, where pithy guys measure their aim with their buddies over an after-work beer. Yet darts is much more than that: a championship sport, a challenging game of skill and once possibly as much a game of kings as chess.
The origins of darts are lost in the darkness of history, but definitely lead to England, where it is said that as early as 1533 Anne Boleyn gave her bridegroom Henry VIII a game of darts as a wedding present. I wonder if the real reason why the king had her beheaded three years later is that he always lost to her at darts?
We don’t know, but it doesn’t seem quite impossible, as darts is definitely a sport that arouses passion and ambition and has certainly driven one or two players into a frenzy when they have narrowly missed the bull’s eye…
Today’s rules, the type of arrows and the division of the target used in darts, however, developed much later in the 19th century in England. In addition to the rules used in today’s championships, there are numerous dart games, each with its own appeal.
Modern electronic dartboards* take care of the scoring, which is especially helpful for beginners. So nothing stands in the way of a real darts evening in your own four walls with family or friends! And to ensure variety and a good atmosphere, we present the 5 most popular dart variants.
In all dart variants a player’s turn consists of 3 throws. That is why dart sets often have 3 darts of one colour. A round is over when each player has thrown their 3 darts.
The dartboard commonly used today has been in use since 1896. Basically, each pie-shaped sector on it corresponds to the number of points on the outside, i.e. 1-20. However, the numbers are arranged in such a way that an inaccurate throw is penalised. For example, if you aim at 19 and just miss it, the arrow will not land at 18 or 20, but at 3 or 7.
The narrow outer ring marks the double squares, the narrow inner ring the triple squares. A dart hitting it scores double or triple the score of the sector. The circular field in the middle is called Bull and the inner (usually red) circle Bull’s Eye. A dart into the outer edge of the Bull scores 25 points, one into the Bull’s Eye scores 50.
Fun Fact: Most people believe that a throw into the Bull’s Eye scores the highest number of points. In reality, however, the highest field in darts is the narrow triple field of sector 20, because a throw on it scores 60 points.
A good darts game for practising marksmanship for 2 players or 2 teams: fox and hunter. The principle of the game is that the hunter chases the fox clockwise around the dartboard, if the fox manages to go round, he wins, if the hunter catches up with the fox, he (or the hunter team) wins.
The fox starts at field 18 that he has to hit twice (or once double or triple field) to be allowed to advance clockwise to the next field that he has to hit twice again. The same rules of advancement apply to the hunter, he starts on field 20, i.e. 2 fields behind the fox. This distance can, of course, also be varied depending on different player strengths.
You write the numbers 1 to 20 on small pieces of paper, fold them up and shuffle them well. Then each player draws one of them and looks at their number without telling the others. Another 3 or 4 slips of paper are put aside. The remaining slips of paper are opened to see which numbers or squares are in play.
These are written on a board and an agreed number of lives is noted behind each number as dashes, usually between 8 and 12. The more players, the lower the number of lives should be set so that the game does not drag on forever.
Now the players take turns throwing their 3 darts, trying to hit the numbers that are in play. A single hit means a life deduction, a hit on the double field means 2 lives deducted, on the triple field 3 lives deducted. If there are no more dashes behind one of the numbers and this was the number of one of the players, he has to report and is eliminated. The last player left wins the game.
In this variant, you should therefore not let it show if your own number has just been hit, because if the other players know what number you have, you will probably be wiped out much more quickly.
Possible additional rule: Whoever hits the Single Bull (green ring) may decide from which number one life is deducted, in the case of the Bull’s Eye two lives.
As the name suggests, this variant of darts is played once around the clock, i.e. the aim is to hit fields 1 to 20 in order. The first player to do this wins. As there are numerous additional rules, some of which vary from region to region, these should be agreed between the players beforehand.
A popular additional rule states that whoever hits a double field may skip the next number, or even the next two numbers when throwing at a triple field. Bull and Bull’s Eye are considered wild for one and two numbers respectively. Another variation is that you have to hit the bull as the last square after the 20.
Example: It is Lisa’s turn and she has already hit the fields 1 to 7. With her first dart, she hits the double square of 8. Therefore, she may also save the 9. Her second arrow hits the 10 on the triple square. This means she is also good on 11 and 12. With her third dart she doesn’t hit 13, but she hits the bull in the outer rim. This counts as a joker, which means she can save 13 for the next turn and continue with 14.
In Cricket or Tactics, the aim is to hit the numbers 15 to 20 and the bull in the middle 3 times. A throw on a double counts as 2 hits, one on a triple counts as 3 hits. A hit on Bull’s Eye counts as 2 hits on Bull.
If you have already hit one of the 7 fields (15-20 + Bull) 3 times and hit it again, you get the corresponding points. The prerequisite for this is that at least one other player has not yet hit the field 3 times.
The first player to hit all 7 squares at least 3 times wins. If several players achieve this in the same round, the highest score is decisive.
This is the game that is played in official tournaments and accordingly also one of the most demanding dart variants. At the beginning, each player has a fixed number of points from which he must throw at exactly 0. This means that the points that are thrown are subtracted from this.
There are several sub-variants for the starting score of each player, but the most popular are 301 and 501. The former is more suitable for beginners, while 501 is the score used in world darts championships.
As usual, each player’s turn consists of 3 dart throws, the total of which is subtracted from his score. If he throws more points in one turn than he still has, they do not count (Bust rule).
Example: It is Lisa’s turn and she has 31 points left. She hits the 20 once, then the double field of 4 (i.e. 8 points). Accordingly, she has now theoretically deducted 28 points and tries to hit the single field of 3 on the last throw to finish. However, she hits the triple square of 3 of all things (i.e. 9 points). Thus she has overthrown and the points from this round are forfeited. So her score remains at 31!
For professionals, there are even more tightened game variants, for example the Double Out, where the last throw (which brings the score to exactly 0) must be a double field. In the Master Out, the last throw may be a triple or double field.
Have fun with these dart games! Here is another book recommendation on the subject of dart games:
Do you know Crossboccia or Ultimate Frisbee? Abenteuer Freundschaft has lots of fun ideas for indoor activities and our board game tips include board games as well as throwing games – it’s worth a browse! Because on Abenteuer Freundschaft there are many activities to discover with friends, for couples and families.
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