Square Shooters Review
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Players: 2-4 (ages 8+)
Playing Time: 10-15 minutes

Every summer, when I attend the Origins Game Fair, I find one stand-out game—one game that I’m so excited about that I race right home to try it out. This year’s Origins favorite was an ingenious game that combines playing cards and dice to offer endless game-playing possibilities.

The key to Square Shooters is its remarkable dice: nine dice that contain an entire deck of cards (including two jokers). They’ve been cleverly designed to allow players to roll any major hand that’s typically found in a card game: full house, flush, straight, or four of a kind.

Obviously, this opens up all kinds of card game possibilities—but the dice also come with everything you need to play the classic Square Shooters game. Game play is simple—especially if you already know a thing or two about poker hands (or the classic dice game Yahtzee). When it’s your turn, you flip over a game card, which depicts the hand that you need to try to match. You then have three rolls of the dice to get a match. You also have two different ways to earn chips for a match: you can try to match the exact hand as it’s shown on the card for the full number of chips, or you can try to match the kind of hand (straight, flush, etc.) for half of the number of chips.

The deck includes a few Shootout cards, which change the rules (and the chip-collecting possibilities) a bit, but the object is pretty straightforward: just collect the most chips in eight rounds of play, and you win.

The basic Square Shooters game is quick and easy and fast-paced. It takes no time at all to learn, and it takes just a few minutes to play each game. But it’s a lot more challenging than you might expect. After all, each “card” appears just once in the nine dice, which means that it’s more difficult to roll the king of spades to match your target card in Square Shooters than it is to roll a five to complete a straight in Yahtzee. So if you’ve gotten bored with Yahtzee, Square Shooters will give you a whole new challenge. At the same time, though, it’s still simple enough—and it moves quickly enough—to make it a great pick for Family Game Night.

But Square Shooters isn’t just one great game; it’s a whole bunch of great games in one little package. It’s extremely versatile, allowing you to play any number of your favorite card games. The rule book even includes instructions for seven other variations—with more possibilities available on the game’s website. And if that’s still not enough, you can always come up with ways to convert your other favorite card games.

The deluxe game set comes with everything you’ll need for hours and hours of game-playing fun—including a deck of playing cards (for a variation called Old Town Shootout) and a pad of score sheets (which come in handy for rummy-style games). The possibilities are truly endless—making Square Shooters the only game you need to pack on your next family vacation.

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