Dice + Blackjack + Pazaak = Dizaak?

While I was looking at Triple Triad in the Final Fantasy games, I stumbled across another card-based mini-game. This one is called Pazaak, found in the Star Wars video game Knights of the Old Republic.

The goal of the game is similar to Blackjack, in that you want to play cards such that their sum is as close to 20 as possible without going over. The twist is that you have your own supply of cards, as does your opponent, and there is a randomized deck of "neutral" cards. Player cards have various ranks in negative and positive values. Neutrals are always positive. There are also special cards which double your previous card, flip between positive pr negative, and so on. See the tutorial above for more info.

I got to thinking about how this would work with dice. Your goal is still trying to reach a sum of 20 without going over, using a combination of your own dice and randomly rolled neutral dice. Here's how to play.

First, give each player a supply of dice and set aside an equal amount of neutral dice. The example above is inaccurate, but you get the idea. I think nine dice per player and 18 neutral dice is more than sufficient.

Each player rolls their entire supply of dice to find out their "hand" for the round. You can keep this secret if you like, but it's hard to not cheat with hidden dice so I think having it all be public is fine.

Set aside your personal dice and start taking turns. On your turn, roll a neutral die and keep it in front of you. You now have three choices.
  • Add one of your dice from your supply.
  • Combine two or three dice from your supply for a special action.
  • End your turn, meaning you take no further action for this turn.
  • Stand, meaning you won't take any further turns this game.

For example, if you add one of your dice from your supply, the results are added together. The sum above is now 6.

Or you may combine two identical results from your supply and set them down as a stack. This will double the previous result while also adding its own face value. The sum above is now five, because the 2 is doubled and the stack's face value is 1.

Or you may combine three identical results from your supply and set them down as a stack. This would flip the previous result to a negative. The stack's face value is still added. The sum above is -1, because the triple stack turns the 2 into -2, plus the stack's face value of 1.

Of course if you're feeling dangerous, you can simply end your turn without taking any further action whatsoever. Just keep stacking up those neutral results until you get closer to 20, then you can strike!

The winner is the player with a sum closest to 20 without going over. If tied, the player with the fewest dice in play (including in stacks) wins. If still tied, arm wrestle until someone's honor is restored.

So anyhow, that's a little idea that I'm sure is quite broken. For example, I bet rolling three sixes isn't that great because they're worth more individually than they would be doubling any other result. UNLESS, your neutral result was six, then you play a stack of double-six reach a sum of 18. Not bad for a first turn.

So there you go, a little push-your-luck strategic fun for your day.

Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.