The super-mega dice game that is like playing Yahtzee in Vegas
Players: 2 – 6 Best with: 2 – 6
Age: 12+ GN Age: Child
Game Type: Dice Time: 30 minutes
Publisher/Year: Milton Bradley / 1994
Game Play: dice rolling (duh!), press your luck
Score: out of 12
Imagine playing Yahtzee. Now imagine playing Yahtzee with 32 dice. Now add in poker chips. Now you are playing Sharp Shooters.
There is nothing terribly unique or exciting about Sharp Shooters but it is a fun variant on dice games and there is something strangely satisfying about playing with a whole bunch of dice. The only game that beats Sharp Shooters in sheer dice magnitude is Dicecapades, which I suppose we will have to review at some time.
The setup is simple. Shuffle the Scoring Cards and place them in the Scoring Tray which is connected to the Dice Tray. Each Scoring Card has a unique variety of dice combinations. Each Combination is worth points based upon its difficulty. For example, completing a straight from 1-6 is worth more points than a three of a kind. Any stars on the Score Card are wild. You can start a Wild row with any number, but all subsequent dice on that line must match the first.
On your turn, roll 5 dice on to the Dice Tray. Just like Vegas, one die must bounce off the backstop of the tray. This rule is vitally important; it is mentioned numerous times in the rules. Apparently, there is a ring of professional dice cheaters on the Family Game Night Circuit. We’re not messing around here. All cheaters will be severely punished.
Anyway, where was I? So you roll the dice. You must place at least one die onto the Scoring Tray. If you cannot place any die then your turn is over. The challenge here is to be the last player to complete a combination by placing the last die on that row.
Sometimes, you might get lucky and quickly score a few points on a two or three of a kind. But you don’t want to place the second to last die on a row and then pass the tray. You’re just setting up an opponent to complete that row and score. And you really don’t want to be the last to score on a black colored scoring row; that will subtract points from your score.
For every row you score you collect some cheesy, plastic poker chips because this game went all-in on the silly Vegas theme. Play as many cards as you want and when you’re bored with the game, which will happen eventually, count your chips to find the “High Roller”. Still doubling down on that theme. Apparently casinos were hot in the ‘90s. The ‘90s were a weird time for games.
For some strange reason Milton Bradley rated the game for ages 12 plus. There must have been some sort of anti-gambling protest that got this game slapped with a PG-13. But the simplistic nature of the game and lack of any real challenge is better suited for children. This is a great game to play as a family with your kids, but I couldn’t imagine playing this with a group of adults. We’d be bored to tears. Except for these players. Apparently, they are having the time of their lives.
Not that you’d know that based on the marketing campaign. They completely pitched this game for adults. The gang of swingers on the back of the box seems to be playing with much enthusiasm. Or maybe they’re just drunk; they sure do like their Gin & Tonics. Who falls for these advertising tricks? “Hey, if this group of paid models is pretending to have fun, the game must be great.” Just show us what the game looks like.
But then again, the game doesn’t look like much. It looks like a Yathzee rip-off, which is partially true. And the game has a better concept than execution. It made our Top 20, because we felt obligated to have some sort dice game on the list, and we were tired of Yathzee at that very moment. Even though Yathzee is a purer, more elegant, and frankly better game.
If you come across Sharp Shooters at a yard sale for short money, go ahead and buy it. The game is fun and the kids will have a good time playing with all the dice and chips. There is just enough strategy to keep the parents satisfied but it’s probably easier to just play Yathzee.
As always, Take a Risk, Give it a Roll, Play the Game, and Game On!
Not only does God play dice with the universe, He’s using loaded dice. – John Ford