“Step up to the lake and get your racers ready! There’s a storm a’comin’!”
What You’ll Need: A three-by-three grid (or a set of nine small boxes of the same size), a large bowl, and a different-colored set of 25 identical tokens, beads, cubes, or chips for up to eight players.
How to Play: Skiffs is a halfling gambling game played on a three-by-three board or set of boxes (the “lake”). Each player puts up in 25 tokens (“skiffs”). The dealer takes one skiff (the “racer”) from each player and then places the rest in a bowl called the “storm.” The storm is flipped over the lake in one smooth motion, so each of the skiffs falls into one of the 9 boxes. (If a skiff falls between parts of the lake, the dealer places it where more than half of it lies, choosing randomly between the two boxes if it isn’t clear.) The dealer places the racers in the bowl. Then the dealer pulls out one racer at a time, and that player takes a turn. On your turn you must do exactly one of the following, if you can:
- Remove any one skiff.
- Remove one of your skiffs and any one skiff from anywhere on the board.
- Remove one of your skiffs and any two skiffs from the same box.
- Move one skiff to an adjacent box.
When a box contains exactly one skiff, that skiff is “anchored.” An anchored skiff can’t be removed except by its owner, and no one can move a skiff into that box except the anchored skiff’s owner. In all cases, each skiff you remove is worth one coin, regardless of whose it is. After everyone has taken a turn, the dealer puts the racers back in the bowl, and starts a new round of turns. The game can end in two ways. The first way is if anyone has the only skiffs in a straight line vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. In this case, that player wins all the skiffs still on the board. The house keeps the racers. The second way is if each box contains skiffs of just one color, or none at all. In that case, the game ends, the house keeps the racers, and points are counted. You get one point for each skiff on the board, and one point for every box in which you have the only skiff(s). Whoever has the most points on the board takes all the remaining skiffs. In the case of a tie, those skiffs are split evenly between the tied players.