Shake up game night with these 6 Bunco house rule variations
The best games are the ones you can customize with fun house rules. Bunco variations aren't as common as in games like Uno or Monopoly, but there are still plays to change how players score points, move around to other tables, and ways to end each round with a twist.
House rule 1: Swap the head tables with losing team
Traditionally, Bunco rules say the winning players go to the head table and the losing players heads shuffle “out” into the room. And typically the winning team at the head table merely moves around a chair so as to have a new partner for each game.
In this house variation, swap the rules so the winning players stay where they are while the losing players shuffle around, with the biggest losers moving to the head table.
Or, make your own Bunco rules to decide the number of players who move. Some ideas include:
- Hold a random roll-off at the other tables, with the lowest or highest score moving or staying.
- The winning team members could decide at random where they want to go, choosing others to replace them.
- Combine Bunco night with Trivia Night and offer up questions to the room where those who answer a series of rapid-fire questions correctly move to the head table.
House rule 2: Make "traveling" a real trip
Bunco prizes are common among players as they roll specific combinations. The exact numbers that must be rolled are determined by the host or players and can be anything separate from a Bunco. These could be a series of numbers that adds up to a special date, age, or just a streak. For example, rolling 5-5-5 in any round, or a three-of-a-kind of any non-Bunco trio.
- When the lucky player rolls a three-dice match, they shout "Traveling!" and receive an object (traditionally a pair of fuzzy dice) or a bag or box of mystery loot.
- They hold on to it until the next person rolls the magic combination.
- Whoever holds on to the bag until the end of the game wins the prize in the bag.
But you can make "Travelling" more literal by allowing only the player holding the dice to decide if and when they want to swap seats with some other player, even players at the head table. The traveling players then swap positions but leave behind the player’s points, inheriting their new positions for the next round.
It's a fun way to play Bunco with a whole new set of game rules.
House rule 3: Add bonus options to each Bunco
Consider these ideas to add more fun each time someone rolls a Bunco:
- Ask someone to say something fun or interesting about themselves each time they roll a Bunco.
- Award cash or prizes each time someone rolls a Bunco. A reduced amount for each mini Bunco can raise the stakes. This can be in addition to or in place of "traveling" fuzzy dice prizes.
- Flip the notion of winning and losing by requiring the winners do something less than fun, like clean up the dishes and kitchen after your Bunco party. Playing with three dice is a game of chance, so who says the highest score wins and has to be treated so lucky? Maybe the losing team gets a special prize for being so unlucky.
These ideas work great at one-table Bunco parties since everyone can hear or take part at once.
Can you play Bunco with 4 players or an odd number of players? You bet!
When you play Bunco with an odd number of players, leave an empty chair or set a stuffed animal or another object to serve as a ghost placeholder (sometimes called a "Baby Bunco" or “Ghost”). Then, other players sitting opposite can take turns dice rolling on the phantom player's behalf. This way, you can play Bunco with an odd number.
If, however, you have six or even eight players and want to play Bunco at one table as one team, play normally, but as each round ends, don't bother moving around. Just shuffle around at each table so you have new players to sit opposite. It's a social dice game, so shuffling around the table is part of the fun.
You can also play 1:1 across multiple tables if you have only a few players in your Bunco group.
House rule 4: Change the number of rounds played
Six rounds are traditionally played each round since each die goes up to 6 pips. But you can opt for lightning-fast rounds by reducing the number of rounds played per set to 3, 4, or 5.
House rule 5: Play with a 9 or 12-sided die
You can really ramp up the competition and reduce the chances for a Bunco by using 9 or 12-sided dice. Just use two or three of the dice and play Bunco as you normally would, striving to roll off the same number of the round as always.
You could even choose to have 12-round sets if your die rolls that high.
House rule 6: Swap score sheets on a whim
In a devilishly fun twist, set special rules for players to swap their score sheet with another player. Perhaps a player who rolls two or three Buncos in a single round gets to ring the bell and swap score sheets with another player of their choosing.
Bonus Bunco variations: Add new ways for players to score (or lose) points
Add more to your score sheet with more than just the luck of the dice by adding new ways to earn points.
Add a timer that, every 2 or 3 minutes dings and requires a random player to answer a trivia question, sing a song, or share a joke. If they can't or don't, deduct points. If they answer correctly or make people laugh, add 5 points.
Add a 3-point penalty for any time someone accidentally throws dice that roll off one side.
Add a handicap for players celebrating birthdays or special events that month and reward them with a 5-point lead before play begins in the first round.
Before each game begins, have someone at the head table or the host fire off a math or spelling problem. The first person to raise their hand and answer correctly gets to earn double points on any subsequent Bunco that round.
After each round ends, give every player a chance to roll one last time in hopes of recording a Bunco. Only a true Bunco in one roll wins any extra points, but if they can pull it off it can shift the balance of power around the table at the end of each round.
Playing Bunco is a game of chance and social fun, so ask players in your Bunco group what ideas they have, too. And when you're ready to play solo, your couch or desk is always the head table at PlayBunco.com