Five Great Dart Games to Play with Your Friends

So you just got a dart board and now you want to know what to do with it. Surely there’s more to this than just throwing darts at it and counting the score?

There absolutely is! There are hundreds of different dart games that you could be playing. Here are five classics that will keep you and your friends playing for hours and hours.

Cricket

This is probably the most common dart game and one played most often in bars around the world. In fact, if you’ve seen a classic dart set, you’ve almost certainly seen a Cricket score card off to the side. There are multiple variations of the game, but this is the most basic version.

The game is played between at least two people and uses only the board segments corresponding to 15-20 plus the inner and outer bullseye. The objective is to score in each of those segments three times, which is referred to as “closing an inning” at which point you are awarded a number of points equal to that inning (e.g. if you close 15, you get 15 points, if you close the inner bullseye, you get 50 points, etc.) After you close the inning, only you can score in that segment until the other person closes it too, gaining the number of points of that inning (e.g. scoring in the 18 segment gives you 18 points every time after you close the inning). If you hit a segment not in the game, that dart scores no points that round.

Throwing in the double or triple ring for a segment counts as two or three scores for that inning respectively. The game ends when all innings are closed and the person with the highest total score wins.

Killer

This game is best played with at least five and up to twenty people. You start by having everybody draw a random number between one and twenty. That will be their number for the game. Write down who is which number and give every player between three and five “lives.”

Each player now starts throwing at the board. The first objective is to hit the double ring for the number that they drew three times, achieving the status as “Killer.” Once they’ve become a Killer, every time they hit somebody else’s double ring, that person loses a life until only one person is left.

There is a variation on this game called “Blind Killer” where after drawing numbers, you don’t tell anybody which number you drew, keeping track of how many lives are lost for each number but not revealing who it is until they’re dead.

Knockout

This game is for two to eight players.

To begin, determine the order of play by having everybody throw a single dart at the board. The closest to the bullseye goes first and the order of play continues outward until everybody is assigned a place in line. Write them down so that you remember.

The first person throws three darts and tries to get the highest score they can. The next person in line now has to beat that score with a higher one. If they do, play continues to the next person after that who has to beat the second player. If they second player fails to beat the score of the person before them, they get a check next to their name and the high score to beat resets for the third player.

Once a player has three checks near their name, they are considered “knocked out” and out of the game. The winner is the last person still in play.

The advantage of this game is that you’re only really competing against the player who goes before you and there can be a strategic element to when you knock out the person behind you if you would rather compete against them late in the game.

Shanghai

This game is for two or more players. Order of play can be determined any way the players want including a coin toss, throwing dice, or throwing at the board and choosing the person closest to the bullseye to go first.

The object of the game is to hit a single, treble, and double in the same number on a single turn. Players start with 1 and everybody throws three darts to try and hit a single, treble, and double on that particular segment. If somebody does, they win the game. If nobody is able to, the next round everybody tries again, but this time aiming for the 2 segment. Play continues in this way until somebody wins or everybody fails on every segment through 20, when they can call it a draw or start over again.

More advanced players can assign certain segments to be elimination rounds where players who do not score at least one point are out of the game. Generally this is done on 5, 7, and 9 because they are statistically the hardest numbers to hit.

Nine Lives

While the name is a bit confusing, the game is fun for two or more players (though it can get pretty long with a lot of players).

Everybody throws a dart at the board. Closest to the bullseye goes first, furthest away goes last. Write down the order of play and give everybody three “lives.”

The object of the game is to be the first person to go around the board in numerical order from 1 to 20. Each round you have three darts to try and make progress and can theoretically move three spaces up every turn if you hit each number in order.

If a player throws three darts and does not move forward at least one number, they lose a life. Once they lose all of their lives, they are out of the game. The winner is either the first person to circle the board successfully or the last person still in the game after everybody else has been eliminated.