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How to Play Ship Captain and Crew

Ship Captain and Crew is one of the classic dice games. You can play this game with as few as two players, but you can also play ship captain and crew with five people or more. The game’s objective is to roll a six (which is the “ship”), a five (the “captain”), and a four (the “crew”).

The first three dice are for the game, while the remaining two dice are for scoring the highest points (“the ship’s cargo). In some versions, a four is the “mate,” and the remaining two dice are the crew.

This classic game is also called Ship’s Fools, ‘6-5-4’, ‘Destroyer’ or ‘Clickety Clack.’ If you are looking for a card game with fewer rules but unlimited entertainment, then this game is for you. At times, you can add poker chips for extra fun.


The game’s objective is to have the highest score after a single round.

What You Need:

Number of players: 2,3,4, 5, or more

Number of dice: Five

Poker chips: If required


After rolling a die if you get a 6, it is referred to as the Ship.

When you roll a dice and get a 5, it is referred to as the Captain.

If you roll a dice and get a 4, it is called the Crew.

When you get any other number on the remaining two dice, become the Cargo or the treasure that is counted. The players play multiple rounds. Before beginning the next round, the player starts a new round to the right of the preceding player. The game continues counterclockwise.


  • In the game of ship captain and crew, the starting player (in the clockwise order) and each player take turns with the dice after that. It takes three rolls to calculate the points.
  • When a player gets their turn, they will try to roll for a 6 (the ship), a 5 (the captain), and a 4 (the crew). They get three throws. When you roll these numbers, set them aside. The player cannot roll these again except that they must be in order. That means, in the game, if the roll results in a 5 and 4, they cannot be kept until a 6 has been rolled, and the player cannot keep a 4 until a 6 and a 5 have been rolled.
  • As you’ve read above, there are usually multiple rounds. They get zero points if a player does not roll a 6, 5, and 4 with their three rolls. If they manage to roll a 6, 5, and a 4, they add the player’s score of the remaining dice (the Cargo) together.
  • In the case of the player rolling out 6, 5, and 4 in only one or two rolls, the player can use their remaining chance to re-roll both cargo dice to achieve a higher score. If they choose to re-roll, they must keep the total of the new roll even if it is lower than their previous score. To calculate the final score, all these factors are taken into consideration.

Terms used in Ship Captain and Crew

  • When the die rolls out a 2- it is the lowest score known as the “minimum.”
  • When a player scores a double six, it is known as “boxcars” or “midnight.” A 12 score is cited as midnight (This is believed to have been based on non-military clocks). Because this is the highest score a player can get at a time, it is called “automatic” as it would automatically make him the winner.
  • If another player also scores a double six, it results in a draw. The term is “getting bitten by the dream spider.” This crew dice game was known as “shattered dreams” in certain areas.
  • The last person who rolls the dice is called a “hammer.”
  • The highest cargo score is called “the point.” This is what the rest of the players have to beat.

How to Win

After all the players have a turn, the winner is the player with the most number of points.

When there is a tie, all the players take an extra turn until they decide the winner.

If you want to use a pot in the game, the winner takes the entire pot or wins some part of the ante based on how the scores are kept.

Also Read: 5 Challenging Online Card Games for Real Money

The Ship, Captain, and Crew Variants

Shifting Cargo

If a player has their Ship, Captain, and crew in place, the captain can re-roll either one or both of the cargo dice if they have any rolls remaining. For example, if one player has 6, 5, 4, 5, 3 on the dice with one roll remaining, they can roll both the 5 and the 3 dice again, or they could choose to keep the 5 and re-roll only the 3.

Bow to Stern

Here, all the rules are similar except that 1, 2, and 3 are the Ship, Captain, and crew instead of the 6, 5, and 4.

Admiral’s Choice

Again, this version follows the same rules; only the player who won the last round starts the next round. The previous starting player does not start the next round.

Long Voyage

There is no roll-off if there is a tie or no winner at the end of a round. The pot remains, and everyone antes again.

Dropping Anchor

Depending on the number of rolls that weren’t used, the sum of a player’s cargo increases. For instance, if a player rolls 6,5,4,4,2 on their first roll, then rolls 5,3, and then drops their last roll, their final score would be 9. How do you calculate the points? -8 for the sum of the two dice, plus 1 for the remaining roll they didn’t use.

Short Plank Variation

Same rules, but you only get three total rolls. The bigger the group, the greater the pace and excitement.

Crow’s Nest Variation

Same rules as Short Plank, but you don’t have to accumulate the Ship, Captain & Crew in order.

Mutiny on the High Seas Variation

This version has no Captain. Use the same rules as Short Plank, but you only need a Ship (6) and Crew (4) before you start counting points from the remaining rolls from the three dice.


How many dice do you need in ship captain and crew?

You need a total of five dice to play the game. You require a minimum of 2 players. However, the excitement increases with more people. A single winner is declared after every round. The rounds go counter clockwise.

What other dice games use five or six dice?

With this game, Yahtzee, Poker Dice, Cosmic Wimpout, and Three Dice also need all five dice. Games like Farkle, 1000/5000/10000 use six dice.

Madhuboni Banerjee
A graduate in engineering who later completed her post-graduate degree in Mass Media. Writing has always fascinated her, and she wishes to pursue her interest in the same. She wants to discover and write about new themes and topics. She always likes to venture in various writing forms and continues exploring her interest there.


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