Home Rec World is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
When it comes to building an entertainment room in your own home, there are lots of options for games that your family and friends can enjoy. Pool, Pop-a-Shot basketball, board games, and more are all on the table for filling out your game room’s repertoire. But one simple in-home game option remains an all-time favorite among players – darts.
That’s likely because a humble darts set can be used to play over 10 different games.
These special gameplay modes run the gambit from points-based to target-based competition. As a result, players can take on one another to show off their ability to target certain slices again and again, or even just play to have fun while trying to beat their opponent’s high score.
No matter how you play, a darts set makes it easy to find a favorite game mode or try out a fresh mode without needing new equipment.
What are these different games, you ask? Well, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will take you through a wide assortment of the best dart games played by amateurs and professionals alike.
You’ll likely have seen some of these games before, but this guide will help you play them properly.
12 Best Dart Games to Play
Without further ado, let’s jump right into the list and put the dartboard you hang on your wall into good use.
Worldwide, cricket is among the most popular darts games. In fact, this game is so popular, it carries an assortment of other nicknames including “Mickey Mouse”, “Tactics”, “Horse and Carriage”, “Faldo”, “Oscar Boscar”, and many more. Regardless of what it’s called in your area, cricket’s gameplay is fairly straight-forward and easy to manage for players or teams in multiples of 2.
In this game, players are competing to “open” the numbers 15 through 20 on the dartboard. To do this, they must register three “hits” on that number. This can be accomplished by hitting the single ring for any of those targeted numbers three times, the triple ring once, or the double and single ring once each.
Once that is done, that player earns points equal to the slice they hit (including multipliers).
An opposing player in cricket may also “close” an “open” ring by performing the same process used to open it in the first place. This is done to strategically prevent an opponent from scoring more points. This is because, after a player “opens” or “closes” all of their numbers, the round ends.
Whoever has the most points accumulated at that point is declared the winner.
Lots of other dart-based games derive from cricket, also. So, learning to play this game is a great way to begin expanding your dart playing portfolio.
301 and 501 (“01” Games)
If you’ve ever watched (or even played) competitive darts, then there’s a good chance that you’ve seen a 301 or 501 game in action. The same goes for playing darts in a bar or at an entertainment center – those machines are usually set to play 301 or 501.
That’s because in terms of actual gameplay, these are among the easiest to learn.
To start, two players or teams should be formed. From there, the players or teams take turns throwing their set of three darts. Once that is done, each team subtracts the total of points from their three darts combined from their starting score of 301 or 501.
This continues until one team reaches a zero and wins.
All wedges are in play for this game, including the multiplier rings and both bullseyes.
In most iterations of this game, there is one catch at the end. Specifically, you must “close out” with precision by scoring the exact amount of points you have left to win. So, if you have 20 points left, you cannot score more than “20” points between your 3 darts or else you are unable to close out.
This adds a special level of challenge to each round’s conclusion.
Around the World
In some darts games, the objective is not to aim to score points. Instead, in a game like around the world, you’ll be tasked with targeting and hitting each slice on the board from 1 to 20. Often, this game is played to help players warm-up for a round of 501 or 301.
As such, it can theoretically be played with as many players as you want.
To start a round, each player takes turns and throws at the “1” wedge. If they hit it, that player may begin to target the “2” wedge. Successfully hitting that allows for shots at the “3” wedge, and so on until they have landed a shot on the “20” wedge. This traditionally ends that round in that player’s favor.
However, the bullseyes can be added in as a requirement to “close out” a rotation around the world.
If you have a large group of prospective players, nine lives is a fun and engaging game option.
In terms of its objectives, it plays just like “around the world.” As such, you and your opponents are worlding to hit each number’s wedge once, in sequence, from 1 to 20. However, there’s an added challenge in this mode – you only have a limited number of “lives.”
Specifically, each player starts with three lives. During each turn, if they fail to hit their assigned wedge with any of their three darts, they lose a life. If a player loses all three of their lives, then they are out of that round.
In many ways, this game mode can be implemented to speed up the gameplay of “around the world” by adding turn-based stakes.
Legs is, in some ways, the darts equivalent to the basketball game “horse.” That’s because an unlimited number of players are repeatedly tasked with matching or exceeding the per-turn score of the person who shot before them.
Doing so allows that player to continue on, while those that fail lose a “leg. Each player starts with three legs and those that lose all of them are eliminated.
This game can also be used to practice for competitive 301 or 501. To that end, this game adds points-based stakes each round, requiring that player to practice targeting certain high point wedges or rings.
As its name suggests, “killer” is the kind of game you’ll want to play when you have four to six players who want to get very competitive. That’s because the objective of this game is to become the “killer” and progressively eliminate their opponent. This is done by targeting specific numerical wedges that are assigned to each player.
To that end, each round opens by each player being assigned a wedge based upon the throw of a single dart with their non-dominant hand.
After that, players take turns aiming for their own wedge in hopes of earning 5 points (with a “single” hit counting as 1 point, a “double” as 2, and a “triple” as 3). Once they do that, they become the “killer.”
The “killer” may then begin to aim at their opponent’s wedges. If they hit it, they lose 1,2, or 3 points (based on the multiplier). Players that reach zero are eliminated. Other players can become the “killer” by reaching 5 points, thus making this an engaging competition of last-person-standing.
Halve It can be a rather quick, yet challenging dart game for two players or teams. In this game, competitors are tasked with hitting a series of tricky targets on a certain turn. If they fail to do so, their total score up to that point is cut in half. Because this game’s goal is to score the most points, such a penalty can quickly become costly.
Halve It sequences can vary from game to game.
However, the most common sequence requires players to hit these targets over the course of successive rounds: 20 (any), 16 (any), double 7, 14 (any), triple 10, 17 (any), and the double bull’s eye. These are challenging targets to hit under regular circumstances, so this game mode is generally reserved for more experienced players.
Shanghai is a game mode for two players or teams that focuses on aiming for specific wedges to score points. That’s because, in this game, each round only allows players to score by landing shots in certain wedges.
These wedges are determined in advance, with as few as 7 or as many 20 (the full board) used. Players then take turns trying to hit that round’s wedge to add to their point total.
There are two win conditions for this game.
The first involves earning the most points over the course of the entire match. Alternatively, a player who scores a “Shanghai” in any round wins instantly. This is done by hitting the single, double, and triple in a single wedge during a round in which it is active.
Gotcha is a modification of the traditional “01” format that allows for as many players as desired.
To start, players agree upon a starting score total. From there, they take turns throwing sets of 3 darts and subtracting the resulting sum from their score. Once a player reaches zero via a precise “close out,” they are declared the winner.
This game has one catch, however.
Players can eliminate one another by reaching a score that is precisely the same as an opponent at the end of the turn. When this happens, the player with that score before is eliminated. Should all other players be eliminated in this way, the last player standing is declared the winner.
Chase the Dragon
Chase the Dragon derives from “around the world” in that this game for an unlimited number of players doesn’t require scoring. Instead, this game mode calls for target-based shooting for numbers 10 to 20 in sequential order. However, the fun doesn’t end there.
To close out a round and win, a player must hit the inner and outer bulls’ eyes.
To add even more challenge to this game mode, some players require only certain parts of the applicable scoring wedge to be counted. For example, players may agree to play “doubles” or “triples” only to raise the stakes.
Hares and Hounds
Hares and Hounds creates a race-like environment on the dartboard as two players compete to achieve their own assigned goals. To that end, the “hare” starts by aiming at the 20 wedges, with the goal to successfully target each wedge in the clockwise rotation until they return to 20.
The “hound,” meanwhile, starts at the 5 and follows a similar process, with the goal of catching up to the “hare.”
The “hound” will have caught the “hare” if they are aiming for and successfully hit the wedge that the “hare” is currently occupying. This results in a win for the “hound.” Otherwise, a “hare that makes it back to 20 will be the winner.
Tic-Tac-Toe derives in concept from the simple children’s game of the same name. To play, a 3×3 grid board must be drawn on paper and tacked to the dartboard.
Players then take turns aiming with a single dart to hit one of the open squares. If they do, a circle or cross may be placed there. As usual, the goal is to either score three marks in a row or at least block the opponent from doing the same.
This game can be played only with two players. Also, it can be made more challenging by shrinking the size of the grid to begin with. That makes it harder to hit the desired square with as much precision.
As you can see, there are a lot of darts games to choose from.
Depending on your interest and skill level, you can keep it simple with a round of 301 or change it up while trying out Shanghai. You can even show off your competitive side with a game like Killer.
No matter what dart games you enjoy most, your family and friends will surely enjoy playing along on your home’s multi-use dartboard.