Chicken! cover art

Reaping the Rewards: Don’t Let Them Call You ‘Chicken!’

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

In “Reaping the Rewards,” I revisit the finished product from a crowdfunding campaign. Chicken! was originally funded on Kickstarter in November 2022, was delivered to backers this summer, and is now available for purchase. This review is adapted from my original Kickstarter alert, updated to reflect the finished components.

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 is available in stores and directly from Keymaster Games, with a retail price of $20 for the game and $40 for the deluxe bundle. 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.

Chicken! components
Chicken! components. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Chicken! Components

Here’s what comes in the tube-shaped box:

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

The “Deluxe Bundle” includes the Eggspansion and also adds a scenery pack: it includes a set of custom-shaped player tokens (instead of the round tokens), and there are wooden scenery bits like a fence and various farm-related things.

Chicken! Eggspansion components
Eggspansion components. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The Eggspansion itself includes:

  • Cloth bag
  • Mother Hen die
  • Blue the Dog die

I was sent a copy of the game itself and the Eggspansion, but not the scenery pack.

Chicken! dice
The dice come in 3 colors, each with a different mix of faces. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The illustrations have a fun, graphic quality to them, and the dice depict eggs, chickens, and foxes. The dice are standard-sized, engraved, and painted. The cloth bag is made to look a bit like a seed bag with some fun text printed on it. Since the board itself is also a cloth, you could fold it up and put the whole game into the cloth bag for easy portability.

Chicken! tube and wrapper
The disposable wrapper with the tube. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The whole thing comes in a little cardboard tube that can also double as a dice cup for rolling—though because the tube isn’t lined, we found that it made for a very noisy dice cup. It’s cute, though anything that isn’t box-shaped can be a bit of a pain to add to the shelf. One odd choice was that the tube had a paper sheet wrapped around it under the shrink wrap with some of the game details—the sort of thing you’d typically find on the back of the box—meant to be removed and recycled once you’ve purchased the game so that the tube now has a wrap-around illustration (seen at the top of this post). Unfortunately, one of the pieces of information that gets tossed is the player count, age range, and game length details—I’m really not sure why this isn’t printed on the bottom of the tube, which does include the game name, publisher, designer, and art credits. I like being able to get that info at a glance, particularly the player count, because I don’t always remember if a game is for 4 or 6 or 8 players, and having to open it up to look inside is an added hassle.

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! Starting setup
Starting setup—player tokens on the scoring track, yellow and orange dice in the coop. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu


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).


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, lose 1 point, and roll just the white dice.

Chicken! four dice
First roll: one fox, one chicken. The two eggs mean I’ll add two yellow dice. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

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
Four points for chickens! The egg means I’ll add one more yellow die before passing them all to the next player. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

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). Again, if you have 3 or more foxes, you bust.

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.

Chicken! bust with 3 foxes
Three foxes! Return all the colored dice, score nothing, and pass just the white dice to the next player. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Game End

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

Eggspansion Rules

The Eggspansion adds two more dice to the mix.

Blue the Dog and Mother Hen dice from Eggspansion
Blue the Dog and Mother Hen dice from the Eggspansion. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The Mother Hen die is a bit like the orange dice—it has a face with double chickens and it has 2 foxes, but it also has 3 hatching chicks. These count as both eggs and chickens—you add a die, and if you choose to re-roll you have to re-roll the hatching chick. But when you stop to count, you also count hatching chicks as a point.

Blue the Dog has two different faces (and some blanks). If you roll the dog face, that counts as a point when you count chickens, but if you re-roll you have to roll the dog again. (He likes to play!) If you roll the “Bark” face, that is set aside with your chickens and foxes, and it negates one fox.

The seed bag itself is also used when you play with the Eggspansion. During setup, you put all the non-white dice in it, and randomly draw 5 to place in the coop. Any time a player needs to add dice for eggs, they can choose either from the 5 available or draw randomly from the bag. (The coop is then refilled to 5 dice.)

Chicken! player scoring tokens
Chicken! player tokens. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Why You Should Play Chicken!

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 a 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 allows 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, especially because the orange dice have 2 foxes each instead of 1.

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.

Two handfuls of Chicken! dice
Will you chicken out, or roll all of the dice hoping to get some double chickens? Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

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. In practice, I’ve found that the majority of people I’ve played with never want to chicken out. It’s an option, but rolling 12 dice (or 14 with the expansion!) all at once is just too tempting, particularly with everyone chanting “Double chicken! Double chicken!” I have seen one player roll 3 double-chicken dice in one turn—that got a big cheer!

Although it’s meant to be a quick, rules-light game and there’s obviously a lot of luck involved, the one complaint (which is easily house-ruled) is that the game ends as soon as somebody gets to 25 points, which means not everyone gets the same number of turns. With fewer players, you might say this is balanced out by the fact that the first player only had a chance to roll the basic dice on their first turn, but as you add more players, it definitely feels less fair. We’ve typically house-ruled it to say that when anyone reaches 25, we finish the round so everyone has the same number of turns, but it’s also pretty easy to just play again.

I’ve played Chicken! with a number of different people and player counts, and it’s generally been a hit. It makes for a nice game night opener or something in between longer games, and it’s easy to play a couple of times in a row. As with most luck-based games, you can have a bad game: there was one game where I scored a few points on my first turn, and then proceeded to bust on my first roll for several turns in a row after that. It turns out that not only was this bad for me (because I wasn’t scoring anything), but it also wasn’t great for the player after me, because he never got to start with a few extra dice on his turn, either, so his scoring potential wasn’t as high. Having more players can sometimes help to balance out how many dice everyone gets to roll, but it’s no guarantee.

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 Eggspansion 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! is egg-cellent!

For more information, visit the Keymaster Games website.

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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.

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