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Schock - a German Dice Game

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The game Schock is a very popular game of dice in the pubs and bars of Germany. There are many variants of the game (and an infinite number of names for it) and nearly as many sets of 'house rules', as there are pubs, so we'll focus on the basics first.


For a game of Schock it takes two or more people, three dice and 13 deckel ('beer mats'). These are small pieces of cardboard, which are usually placed under the glasses in German pubs. One can replace these deckel with chips, sticks or even anchovies, but the deckel are common, because they are left around in abundance.

In the Beginning...

Select someone to begin the game. Each player throws one single die. The one who gets the highest number first begins the Aufnahme ('take up'). He throws the three dice and decides what to do, either throwing the dice three times to build one of the combinations below, which count. However, if he decides to take a second or third throw, he is only allowed to leave dice out of the shaker which show a one1. Each combination beats the ones above it in the list, and is beaten by the ones below in the list.

What the Numbers Mean...

The combinations are, in ascending order:

  • A bare number - Combinations which do not appear below, are counted from the highest digit to the lowest and are then compared to each other. The highest number wins. So a throw with a five, a four and a two is counted as 542.

  • A 'Street' - These are three dice which form an ascending row, like one-two-three (3,2,1) or four-five-six (6,5,4). The highest digit defines the ranking of two streets in comparison. A street only counts when it comes from a single throw.

  • A bock or pasch - These are three dice which show the same number. Like the street, this only counts when it comes from a single throw (remember that only ones are left out of the cup in subsequent throws).

  • A schock - The highest class of combination. These are combinations of two ones and any other number. These are called schock-2 to schock-6 according to the final number. The highest possible schock is schock aus ('shock out'), which consists of three ones. Whoever throws a schock aus is out of the round and can watch the show.

And the Winner is...

Every round has one definite winner. If two players throw the same combination, the one who threw it first wins. The only exception is, that a combination which resulted from a single throw with three dice has a higher ranking than one which took several attempts to complete. In addition, the number of throws determines the ranking; the less throws you make, the higher your ranking.


Every player throws the dice in turn, but everyone has only as many tries as the first player took. At the end of the round, the results are compared. The lowest combination loses and this player gets as many deckel as the highest picture dictates; a bare number gives one deckel, a 'street' two, a bock three and a schock as many as his name implies. In case of a schock aus, the second highest combination determines the number of deckel that the loser has to take.

The loser begins the next round and the game goes on, until no further deckel are on the stack. After all deckel have been taken, the game goes into the second phase, the Ablage ('take off'). The rules are the same, with two exceptions; the players without any deckel are out of the game and since there are no pieces on the stack anymore, the winner of a round hands out the appropriate number of deckel to the loser, until he has none left. Then he is out of the game too.

This is the End...

The game ends, when only one player with deckel is left. He is the loser of the game. Depending on the 'house rules', he 'takes a half', meaning he makes a stroke with chalk on the table in front of him. If a player gets his second 'half', he is obliged to give out a small drink to every other player and all chalk strokes are erased. A new game can begin, with the loser as the predefined beginner.

As one can imagine, this can get quite expensive with large groups. Therefore, games with more than five people are very rare. On the other hand, when only two people are playing, it is very fast. In such situations, it's played on 'thirds', meaning, you have to accumulate three losses to lose a game.


A much-loved variant is the 'blind' schock. Every player has his own cup and his own dice. You throw the dice and if you decide to raise the cup, you have to throw them again (up to three throws). When all players have made their throws, the cups are raised. The term 'blind' is given because, if you leave the cup on the table to indicate that you think that you've had enough throws, no one, including you, actually knows your ranking until the end of the turn. It's a typical 'showdown' situation. This variant is very hard and fast.

This is just one of many variants...

1There is one exception - if a throw results in two sixes, you are allowed to turn one of them into a one. If you happen to throw a bock (three results the same) of sixes, you are allowed to turn two of them into ones, making your next throw a predefined schock.

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