Have you ever Farkled?

Farkle is fast free fun with this virtual version of the classic dice game.

Farkle is an old dice game in which two or more players each roll five or six dice, with various scoring methods determining the winner. Tam11's Farkle is a free software version of the venerable game, which also goes by many other names. You can play Farkle alone or online via the developer's free Lobby application. Since you don't need the Lobby to play Farkle, we opted just to install the game.

The Farkle interface is a simple, colorful affair displaying virtual dice, a scoreboard for up to six players, scoring rules, and a chat screen that also displays game instructions. There are few options, and most are related to the dice sound, fonts, and background colors; you can also choose between classic and large dice sets. Phrase presets let you configure and quickly enter a variety of commonly used comments in the chat mode. We chose to roll against Klot, Tam11's versatile virtual opponent. Farkle is simple: roll all the dice, select those you want for scoring, and roll again to add to your score. When you stop your turn, you can add your score, but if you "farkle," or roll and come up empty, you lose everything you gained in that turn. Ones, fives, and various combinations like three of a kind and straights score points; the first player to score 10,000 points wins. That sounds like a lot of points, but the game is actually fast and exciting. We quickly learned that finishing your turn with some points was better than not scoring at all and that three rolls was really pushing it, though a big score (like 1,500 points) made gambling on another throw worthwhile. We actually liked the six-dice game better than the five-dice game. There's also a Zarkle game that ups the stakes in multiplayer games by rewarding large blocks of points to players who win multiple rolls, and there's Team Game option as well. Pop-ups let us manage our phrase list and view Roll Statistics as well as access the Spy List for online play. You can even select a Just Watch option to follow others' play, if you choose to play online.

Tam11's Farkle is quick to learn, easy to play, and loads of fun. These are all problems because we can see Farkle becoming a major time-waster. Like the best games, though, it offers enough strategizing and plain old basic arithmetic to keep players sharp as well as entertained.

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