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Scam School Takes on Dice Nim

Published on Thursday, December 27, 2012 in , , , ,

Congratulations to Scam School on reaching 250 shows!

As with any good anniversary celebration, they invited back an old friend of their and ours - Nim! More specifically, their 250th episode looks at Nim with dice.

Let's jump right into the 250th episode:

If you think about it, Dice Nim is really just standard single-pile Nim played backwards. As a matter of fact, go to the Single-Pile Nim Strategy Calculator, and use the following settings:

• Player who makes the last move is the: Winner
• Maximum number of objects (limit): 50
• Nim Game is played: up to limit
• Number of objects used per turn ranges from 1 to: 6

Click the Calculate Nim Strategy button, and you'll note that the Nim Strategy Calculator returns exactly the same strategy Brian teaches in this episode. Try playing around with Dice Nim using this calculator, and see how choosing other strategies, or even using dice with more or fewer sides affect the game.

One nice touch that Brian uses in the video is the use of 2 dice. If he were to use just 1, the other people might notice that he's simply giving it a half turn after they play. When they play a 4, he gives it a half turn to the 3 on the opposite side, and so on. With 2 dice, the playing of opposite sides isn't as obvious.

Here's an interesting thought: What if you were to play Dice Nim (with 1 instead of 2), and the rules specified that only you could only make a quarter turn each time? With a 5 on top, for example, you couldn't play 5 on your next turn, obviously. The 2 would be on the bottom, so you also couldn't play 2. You would be limited to rotating a quarter turn to 1, 3, 4, or 6.

There is a version of Dice Nim played exactly like this, called 31. The object is to be the person who either makes the running total exactly 31, or forces the other person to go over 31.

If you're interested in the strategy for this version, I wrote it up back in June of 2011, along with the game of 50 strategy. The next column even teaches how to play the quarter turn version to any number, so you can let the other person choose the goal.

Granted, carrying dice around with you is unusual (except maybe here in Las Vegas, NV), but not shocking. With a little practice, you can have a little fun, and maybe even win a few drinks.