Games: Liar Dice

There have been several finds of Anglo-Saxon or Viking dice. These have mainly been made in antler or bone, and it is probable that wooden dice were also used but didn't survive. We also know that the Vikings played gambling games with dice.

Precisely which games they played aren't known for certain, but Liar Dice and Meier/Mia are two of our favourite gambling games.

How to Play

You will need five dice. The first player rolls all five dice, hiding the result. They then declare what they have in their hand. At this point, two things can happen:

liars.jpg
  • Someone can challenge them by declaring them a liar. They then have to reveal their hand- if they were lying they loose, if they were telling the truth they win.
  • If no-one challenges them, the dice are passed clockwise (still covered) to the second player. The second player can re-roll as many of the dice as they want, and should attempt to get a better hand. If they fail to roll a better hand, they must lie and claim they did- hence the name of the game. There is then a time for people to challenge the second player, before the dice are passed to the third player. And so on.

Scoring

Scoring is similar to a simplified version of poker. The aim is to roll several dice of the same value, or a run. From lowest to highest scores:
Double (eg 2 4 4 5 6 is a double 4)
Two Doubles (eg 2 4 4 5 5 is a double 4 and a double 5)
Triple (eg 2 2 2 5 6 is a triple 2)
Triple and Double (eg 2 2 2 5 5 is a triple 2, double 5)
Quad (eg 2 2 2 2 5 is a quad 2)
Quint (eg 2 2 2 2 2 is a quint 2)
Low Run (1 2 3 4 5)
High Run (2 3 4 5 6)

How to Gamble

The game can be played just for fun, or as a drinking game (looser downs two fingers of booze) or as a gambling game.

Pot

With a small number of players, the best way to play is to make a communal pot and simply say whoever wins gets to take a coin from the pot. The coins are just used to keep track of who's won the most.

Stakes

With more players (ideally four or five) gambling can be a bit more sophisticated. It's a good idea for everyone to start with five coins. This makes a fairly quick and fun game, where the winner can win lots but no-one looses too much.
In order to enter a round you have to put forward one coin. In order to accuse someone of lying you have to put forward a second coin. The winner of each round takes everyone's stakes- if several people make a correct accusation at the same time the pot is split evenly.
When there are only two players left you should end the game, and see who won and who came second.

If you're feeling especially dedicated you can even adapt the gambling system so you can raise the stakes and so on. This leads to even more bluffing and lying…

How to Cheat

The two main ways of cheating established at Hauksby by The Ragnarssons are changing your dice (favoured by Hauk, this can consist of either flicking dice over to improve your hand or 'accidentally' destroying good hands when passing them to the next player) and stealing from your opponent's money piles when they're not looking (favoured by Valgar).

It's best to only cheat when playing against someone innocent and trusting like Thorvald or against someone who no-one will believe like a scummy Saxon.

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