I’m a regular visitor to charity shops, usually it’s to buy books, DVDs, or CDs, but every now and then a game catches my eye. It’s usually something a little different, something I’ve never heard of, or something I have fond childhood memories about.
Perudo, more commonly known as ‘Liar’s Dice’, fits into the first category – something a little different, and by that I mean compared to the usual games you’ll find in charity shops (often filled with games for young children, or the types of game that gets passed on when the children are grown up!).
The game of Liar’s Dice is thought to have originated in South America, and it is certainly a common sight throughout the continent, often played for money – or, in other areas, as a drinking game!
The gameplay is simple – each player starts with a cup filled with 5 dice. They then, simultaneously, upend their cup, ensuring all the dice stay hidden from the other players.
Sneaking a peak at their dice, the first person, as decided earlier by a throw of a die, makes a bid. The bid is an estimate of how many dice of a particular number they think lies beneath all the cups; for example, five 3’s – 1’s are wild and are counted as the number bid.
The next player then has to make a decision – do they raise the bid, or call ‘Dudo!’ (Spanish for ‘I doubt’), which means they think the previous bid is incorrect and a step too far.
To raise the bid either the number of dice, or the number on the dice, has to be increased. So, in our example of five 3’s, a raised bid could be six 2’s, six 3’s, or five 4’s. It is also possible to call aces (1’s), and to do this the number of predicted dice is halved – so to better five 3’s, the call would be three aces, as fractions are always rounded up. To move the bid away from aces the number of dice needs to be doubled and one added; in this case seven 2’s would raise three aces.
When Dudo is called, players reveal their dice starting with the player who made the call, and the dice of the relevant value are added up, not forgetting those wild 1’s.
If the total number of relevant dice is equal or higher than that bid, then the player who called Dudo loses a die; otherwise the player who made the bid loses one of theirs. Lost dice are placed in a bag, so it pays to remember who’s got what hidden under their cup on the next throw.
When a player loses all their dice they are out of the game – last one standing is the winner.
That’s basically all there is to it. There are a few other rules that can be added to the game, which can make it slightly more interesting, but to be honest, the raw form of the game is the best, fastest, and totally uncomplicated.
It’s a great little party game that takes less than fifteen minutes to play, and anyone of any age can join in the fun. It really comes alive though, when you have a few personalities around the table, and can get extremely loud and raucous when alcohol is added!
You usually get three types of player; the one who plays the odds, working out how many dice are available and doing the maths; the one who plays the players, reading what they think the others are doing when the make a bid – are they revealing what they hold under the cup, or are they bluffing? Finally, the one who has no idea what is going on, and just makes a bid based upon how lucky they feel!
If you’re a good poker player then you should be great at this game, as the skills are easily transferable. If you can do some simple and quick maths in your head, recognise when someone is bluffing, and able to bluff yourself, then you should be in with a shout at the end.
It creates some highly amusing moments as the bid gets pushed higher and higher, especially when everyone is bluffing but bidding in confidence, and then when the bid is called, the revealed dice show none of the relevant number!
I found most people unwilling to play this game at first, because on paper it doesn’t sound the most entertaining game in the world, but when coerced in to it, they found themselves on the edge of their seat as things started to become tense and exciting – made more so by the inclusion of a small fee to play – winner takes all!
As a family game this may not hold the attention for more than a game or two at a time, especially with younger children, though it does make a quick and simple filler. But, if you’re after something to entertain your mates down the pub, where a drink or two often alters ones perception, then you can’t go far wrong with Perudo.
The version I managed to lay my hands on comes in a pretty solid metal tin. Inside there are six, equally robust, plastic cups, a colourful cloth bag for carrying the game around in, and 30 reasonably nice dice.
And what did I pay for this?
£2 – Even if I threw the game away and just kept the dice, that’s a bargain!