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Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. And watch out for those foxes!

What Is Chicken!?

Chicken! is a press-your-luck dice game for 2 to 8 players, ages 8 and up, and takes about 10 to 20 minutes to play. It’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, with a pledge level of $20 for the retail edition, or $35 for the deluxe edition. The game is light and pretty easy to learn, and I imagine with some help you could play with even younger kids—there isn’t any reading, just counting.

Chicken! was designed by Scott Almes and published by Keymaster Games, with illustrations by Carpenter Collective.

New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.

Chicken! components
Chicken! components. Image: Keymaster Games, used with permission.

Chicken! Components

Note that the game is not finalized yet, but should be very similar to what you see here. I played over Tabletop Simulator so I don’t have my own photos of the game.

Here’s what will come in the tube-shaped box:

  • Cloth board
  • 12 dice (4 each in white, yellow, and orange)
  • 8 player tokens

The deluxe edition adds a few upgrades: the player tokens will be custom-shaped wooden tokens (instead of round tokens), and there’s some fun wooden scenery that’s just for extra decoration. It also includes a cloth bag and a 2-dice expansion. If the campaign hits any stretch goals, those will be included in the deluxe version only.

Chicken! tube with components
The cloth board folds up to fit into the tube. Image: Keymaster Games, used with permission.

The illustrations have a fun, graphic quality to them, and the dice depict eggs, chickens, and foxes. The whole thing comes in a little cardboard tube that can also double as a dice cup for rolling. It’s cute, though anything that isn’t box-shaped can get be a bit of a pain to add to the shelf.

How to Play Chicken!

You can download a copy of the rulebook here. It is also available to try for free on Tabletop Simulator.

The Goal

The goal of the game is to be the first to reach 25 points.

Chicken! setup
Starting setup (in Tabletop Simulator).

Setup

Roll out the cloth board—each person chooses a scoring marker and places it at the start. Place the yellow and orange dice in the center of the board on the coop, and give the white dice to the starting player (the player who most recently held a chicken).

Chicken! Dice
The yellow and orange dice increase your risk, but also the potential rewards. Image: Keymaster Games, used with permission.

Gameplay

On your turn, you’ll get to roll once or twice.

First, you have two choices: roll all the dice that were passed to you, or chicken out. If you chicken out, return all yellow and orange dice to the coop, and lose 1 point, and roll just the white dice.

After your first roll, set aside all chickens and foxes. If you rolled 3 or more foxes, you bust—return any yellow and orange dice to the coop and pass the white dice to the next player.

If you didn’t bust, you take one more die from the coop for each egg you rolled. Take yellow dice first, then orange, and add them to the eggs and blank dice you rolled.

Chicken! dice
The two eggs will add two more dice—should I roll again, or stop? (Screenshot from Tabletop Simulator)

Now, you have one more choice to make: take a second roll, or count your chickens! If you roll again, roll all the dice in the pool (not the chickens and foxes set aside from the first roll). If you now have a total of 3 or more foxes, you bust as above.

Otherwise, you count up your chickens and score 1 point per chicken. You also add more dice to the pool based on the eggs you rolled, and then pass all of the dice to the next player.

Game End

The game ends when a player reaches 25 or more points on their turn, and they win!

Why You Should Play Chicken!

Okay, I’ve only played a demo of this on Tabletop Simulator so far, but Chicken! is a pretty cute game and makes for a nice addition to the press-your-luck dice genre. At first blush, it looks like it has some similarities to something like Pass the Pigs or Zombie Dice—you roll dice (or pigs), try to score points, and get another chance to roll if you don’t bust. But there are a couple of key differences that set Chicken! apart.

In many press-your-luck games, you get to keep rolling until you decide to stop or you bust. Here, you get two rolls at most on your turn. The disadvantage is that there’s hard limit on how many points you could score in a turn even if you have outstanding luck, but the advantage is that turns move quickly, which would allow for an 8-player game without a bunch of people getting bored. I remember playing Pass the Pigs with my extremely lucky kid when she was little, and at times she might score up to 50 points in one turn without busting, while everyone just waited. I mean, it’s fun to see how far somebody can push things, but you also want a chance to play, too.

Another difference is the way that the dice are added: the more eggs you roll, the more dice you add. The orange dice in particular have some faces with two chickens on them, so you could score even bigger … but rolling that many dice at once without getting 3 foxes requires some good luck.

Chicken! Rolling dice in TTS
Roll those dice! (Screenshot from Tabletop Simulator)

And the other key is that, because of the way dice are added to the pool, you often start your turn with a big pile of dice. In most press-your-luck games, your chances of busting on the first roll are pretty minimal, and increase as you continue to push. In Chicken!, you might get handed a pile of all 12 dice for your initial roll! A big risk, but a big potential reward.

That, of course, is where the option to chicken out comes in. You could spend a point to go back down to the four white dice and reduce your risk, but then the most you could score on your first roll is 4 points. The further behind you are on the scoreboard, the less inclined you might be to spend points to score fewer points. Might as well take the chance, right? On the other hand, if you’re ahead already and you only need a few points to win, maybe you can afford to spend a point to play it safe.

Scott Almes is a prolific designer—he’s the one behind the Tiny Epic series, as well as a whole catalog of others, and I’m always curious to try the games he designs. Keymaster Games is the publisher of PARKS, a beautiful card game that earned a GeekDad Approved seal in 2020, and they were interested in publishing a game that has a nice grab-and-go feel, something that you can play with both your parents and your kids. The deluxe edition includes a few more twists for players who might want to add a touch more complexity to it, like allowing for random draws of the dice instead of the prescribed white-yellow-orange sequence.

So, if you’re a fan of dice-cluckers, er, chuckers, Chicken! looks to be a fun one to check out.

For more information or to make a pledge, visit the Chicken! Kickstarter page!


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