Ship, Captain, and Crew Dice Game Rules
Also known as Ship Captain Mate and Crew, Destroyer, 6-5-4, Mariner, Battleship, Ship, or Ship of Fools.
Often used as a drinking game, or even for stakes, this is an easy to play, casual dice game that's good for playing with a larger group.
The 6 result on a die is commonly known as the Ship, the 5 is the Captain, the 4 is the Crew, and the other two dice are known as the Cargo (or the treasure). Alternatively the 4 is sometimes called the mate and the remaining two dice are the crew.
A two (the lowest possible score in the game) is called a minimum. A twelve (the highest score) is called a midnight.
Object of the Game
The object of the game is to be the player with the highest score after a single round.
- Five 6-sided dice
- A dice cup (optional)
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Number of Players
2 or more but best with at least 4
How to Play Ship, Captain, and Crew
Determine a starting player. This can be accomplished by any method of the players' choosing but is typically done by having each player roll three dice. The player rolling the highest total becomes the starting player.
If playing for stakes, players ante before any dice are rolled.
Beginning with the starting player, each player in clockwise order takes their turn by rolling the dice up to three times to determine their final score.
On their turn, a player trys to roll a 6 (the ship), a 5 (the captain), and a 4 (the crew). These numbers, when rolled, are set aside and are not rolled by the player again except that they must be rolled in order, so that a 5 and 4 cannot be kept until a 6 has been rolled, and a 4 cannot be kept until a 6 and a 5 have been rolled.
If a player does not roll a 6, 5 and 4 with their three rolls, then they score zero points. If, however, they manage to roll a 6, 5, and a 4 then the remaining two dice (the cargo) are added together to determine the player's score.
It's possible that the player will roll the 6, 5 and 4 in only one or two rolls. If this is the case then the player has the option of using their remaining rolls to re-roll both of the cargo dice to try and achieve a higher score. If they choose to reroll, they must keep the total of the new roll even if it is lower than their previous score.
Example of play
On Emily's first roll of the dice, she gets 6, 4, 2, 2, 1. She can keep the 6 (the ship), but cannot keep the 4 (the crew) since she has not rolled a 5 (the captain) yet. So she sets the 6 aside and picks up the remaining four dice and rolls them again.
This time she rolls 5, 4, 6, and 2. Since she previously rolled a 6, she can keep the 5, and since she now has a 5 she can also keep the 4. The other dice, the 6 and the 2, add up to 8, which she could keep as her final score. However, Emily decides to take a risk since she has one roll remaining and she rolls the two dice again to try and roll higher than an 8. This time she rolls two 5's. These add up to 10 so this is Emily's final score.
Game End and Winning
Once all players have had a turn, the player with the highest score is the winner.
In case of a tie, all tied players take one additional turn each until a single winner is determined.
If played as a drinking game, everyone except the winner must then drink.
If playing for stakes, the winner receives the entire pot.
Usually multiple rounds, or games, are played. When starting the next game or round, the player to the right (counter-clockwise) of the previous starting player becomes the new starting player.
Ship Captain Crew has several rules variants that you can use to modify your game as listed below.
Ship, Captain and Crew Variants
Once a player has their ship, captain, and crew, they can choose to reroll either one or both of the cargo dice if they have any rolls remaining. For example, if Emily has 6, 5, 4, 5, 3 on her dice with one roll remaining, she can roll both the 5 and the 3 dice again or she could choose to keep the 5 and reroll only the 3.
Bow to Stern
In this variant, the 1, 2, and 3 are the ship, captain and crew instead of the 6, 5 and 4.
The player who won the last round starts the next round.
If there is a tie or no winner at the end of a round, there is no roll-off and the pot remains and everyone antes again.
The sum of a player's cargo is increased by the number of rolls that they didn't use. For example, if a player rolls 6,5,4,4,2 on their first roll, then rolls 5,3 on their second roll, and then chooses to forego their last roll, their final score would be 9. (8 for the sum of the two dice, plus 1 for the remaining roll they didn't use.)
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