Young and old alike enjoy playing the popular game of darts! Developed centuries ago and a fun choice for simple, inexpensive entertainment, there are many options for dart games that can be played between two or more players. Today, the traditional wall-hanging dart board can be found in homes, bars, and arcades around the world. Here we will take a deeper look at how the game of darts developed and the best dart board games to play when you are ready for a fun evening with friends and family!
If you want to quickly check the different dart games listed in this article you can click the links in the table of contents below to jump to the relevant section on the page.
A Short History of Darts
The game of darts as we know it today has a rich and storied history. In fact, there is even evidence to suggest that the Pilgrims had a set of darts while on the Mayflower! While the origins of the modern day dart games are based in speculation, this sport has likely been around since the days of Medieval England.
It is thought that this entertaining game was once a literal skill-teaching tool for soldiers and martial artists many centuries ago. By throwing short arrows at the bottom of dried out casks or tree trunks, these soldiers were able to develop their skills that helped trained them for battle.
It didn’t take long for this skill developing technique to take on a standardized form, and by the late 1800’s woodworkers were fabricating dart boards for entertainment purposes at local pubs.
Today, darts is still a popular past-time and there are many different equipment options available – from electronic high-end dart boards to basic hanging designs.
The most common standard dart board used today is divided into 20 sections with alternating high and low numbers. At the center of the board is the coveted bulls-eye, which is divided into both an inner and outer ring.
There is speculation surrounding the development of this traditional numbering style, and some sources credit it to Brian Gamlin, a Lancashire carpenter who is said to have invented it in 1896.
The diagram below illustrates the design of the modern dart board and how it is used to calculate points in most common games:
Popular Darts Games Across the World
If you have ever played darts, you likely started out playing simple x01 style games, which will be covered in the next section. However, there is an entire world of darts games out there that can add an extra element of challenge and fun to any friendly competition. Here we will describe the standards of some of the most popular dart games being played in the world today.
x01 Games (301, 501, 701)
One of the simplest and most common dart games played today is one of the many versions of x01. This can be played as 301 for a quicker gaming experience, or you can extend game play by using a higher number such as 501 or 701.
The general premise behind the rules of this game is based upon a countdown. Each player will start with the decided upon x01 number, and based upon their dart throws they will receive points to start “counting down”.
The large number sections count as a single count for the number that is hit, while the outer band doubles your score for that throw! If you really want to countdown quickly, aim for the thin inner band of the board. This section will give you triple points as you work to take your score down to zero. The bulls-eye also counts when it comes to x01 games, so aim for that if you are looking for a 50 point reduction in your remaining number total!
The first player to zero wins, but there’s a catch! In order to officially win the game, you must get your score to exactly zero by throwing either a bulls-eye or a “double”.
One of the appeals of the game of darts is that anyone, regardless of age, size or strength, can enjoy playing the game. For beginners or those looking for a simple, entertaining game to pass the time, x01 games are the perfect choice.
Check out the excellent video below for an explanation of the rules of 301 and 501.
Cricket is a dart game that relies on strategy and accuracy in order to win. A popular choice in both America and Britain, this exciting game can be played with two or more players or even as teams! The goal of cricket is to be the first player that is able to hit all of the cricket numbers and bulls-eye three times as well as have the highest point total at the end of the game.
The game of Cricket is unique in that it only uses select sections of the traditional dart board. Instead of using all of the numbers, players only focus on 15 through 20 and the bulls-eye, although in some versions this is extended down to the number 10.
Once you hit a cricket number three times it is considered "open" – meaning that you no longer have to hit this number in order to win, but each additional hit will earn you points. These point values are doubled or tripled if you hit the small band sections of the board. The order in which you hit the cricket numbers doesn't matter, and opening numbers can be accomplished in any order.
Once all the players have hit the opened number three times, the number is then considered "closed" and no further points from that number section can be scored by any player.
There are several variations of Cricket that have developed over the years, and some of the most popular versions are Scram, Cutthroat, Full-board Cricket, and Tactics (the UK version of standard Cricket).
For a more detailed explanation of the rules of Cricket check out the following video:
Around the World
Around the World—also know as Around the Clock—is a great choice if you are looking for a fast paced game that can be finished in less than 10 minutes! The goal of Around the World is for each player to hit every number on the board in consecutive order before the other players. There is no scoring involved with this game, and a player wins by being the first one to hit each number, ending with the bulls-eye.
There is limited strategy that comes into play with this game, making it a good choice for novice players. In fact, Around the World is often used as a fun way to develop accuracy skills that can be used in more complex games.
If you are playing Around the World with players that have a mix of skill levels, it is common to handicap the stronger players by limiting their target area.
And for those of you that like video explanations, here is a good video explaining the rules of Around the World:
The darts game of Halve It is popular in the UK and across parts of North America. Although it is not the most well-known game, it is relatively easy to play and great for developing your accuracy skill.
The premise of Halve It is to hit previously agreed upon number targets within a single throw of three darts. If a player hits the target number during their three throws, the total points will be added to their score.
As an example, if the assigned number was 10 and a player hits a single and double 10 during their turn, 30 points would be added to their total score. However, as with most dart games, there is a catch! If a player fails to hit the targeted number during their turn, their accumulated score is halved.
Halve It can be played with any number of players, and is a great choice for a crowd as it can be tailored to the skill level of the competitors. For an easier competition, targets can be assigned as a single selected number instead of a double or triple.
There are several variations to Halve It involving the selection of the targeted sections. Players can agree to aim for targeted numbers, different colors, inner and outer bulls-eye, or a sequence of colors on the dart board. With a number of variations and simple rules, this game of accuracy is a fun choice for friendly competition.
A more uncommon game than some of the previously covered dart games, Killers is a fun choice for three or more people to play. When it comes to Killers, the more people involved the better!
Killers is a game of accuracy, but it also involves strategic planning and can be highly competitive. The goal of Killers is to be the last person on the scoreboard with a “life” left.
To begin the game, each player throws a dart with his or her weak hand to randomly select their number assignment for the game.
To become a “Killer” and start working towards eliminating your opponents, players must hit the double of their number. After this is accomplished, they can start taking away “lives” of the other competitors by hitting the double section of that player’s assigned number.
There are plenty of ways to change Killers around to suit the skill level of the players involved. For example, you can make a direct bulls-eye hit necessary to become a killer when your players are advanced in skill.
Aces is another popular darts game that is focused on building your accuracy skills. Also known as Ace, this game is typically played between two players but can be easily adapted to accommodate larger groups.
The main objective of Aces is to score the most amount of points by hitting numbers that are determined by your opponent, finishing with the bulls-eye. To select the numbers, the first player will throw three darts at the dart board with their least accurate hand. The numbers that they hit are then assigned to the opposing player, with the addition of the bulls-eye. The opposing player then selects three numbers in the same way for the first player.
Once the numbers are determined, the players take turns throwing three darts at each of their assigned numbers. Singles are worth one point, doubles are worth two points and triples are worth three points in Aces, so accuracy can play a big role in racking up those points!
Typically this game is played with three to five rounds, and at the end, the total points for each round are added up and the highest score wins!
While there is slight strategy involved since the opposing players choose the targeted numbers, Ace comes down to accuracy in order to win the game.
If you are a baseball fan, then the dart game Baseball is the perfect way to combine your love of sports with an exciting version of darts! There are several variations of this game, one of which must be played on a special dart board. However, for the purpose of this information we will focus on the form of Baseball played on the standard English dart board.
Based upon the rules of baseball, this dart game is divided up into nine innings, and the objective is to score the most amount of runs (points) in each inning. In order to score, players have to hit the numbers on the dart board that corresponds with the inning. So, if it is inning three, the only darts that will count towards your score are those that land in the 3 section of the dart board.
The double and triple rings of the board count in Baseball as well and will score you double and triple runs accordingly. Each run is worth one point, and just like in most sports the player with the highest ending score wins the game!
Baseball is an exciting dart game, but it does require some preparation beforehand. Batting order has to be established, and an inning score card is generally put next to the board to keep track of the players and/or teams competing.
After you understand the rules of the various innings and the process of achieving runs to add to your score, Baseball is a simple way to enjoy a good time with friends and family alike!
Here is a nice short video explaining the rules of the Baseball darts game:
If you are up for a challenge, then Mulligan is the darts game for you! While there are many games designed to be adaptable to players with limited dart experience, Mulligan is generally only played by skilled players with a high level of accuracy.
Any number of players can compete in a game of Mulligan, and the goal is to “close out” six random numbers and the bulls-eye before your opponents do.
To close a number, you must hit the thin inner ring of each number section to move on. Single sections don’t count in the game of Mulligan! All players would have to hit three triples of each random number chosen plus three bulls-eyes in order to win the game.
While the rules are simple to the game of Mulligan, you can count on a late night if you don’t have a high level of accuracy and experience playing darts!
The game of darts has been around for centuries in some version or another, and its reach spans the globe and various cultures around the world. A popular choice due to its simplicity and inexpensive equipment, you can play the game anywhere that you can hang a dart board!
Over the years, more varied versions of classic games have developed, allowing players of all skill levels to play in friendly competition. With a little bit of luck and a lot of practice, anyone can master the art of throwing darts!
Of course there are many more dart games than the ones listed in this article, it's impossible to list them all. But if you want some more inspiration take a look at the following links:
What are some of your favorite dart games? I'd love to hear all about them in the comments!