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This article originally appeared in the March/April 2023 issue.

Darbol is a popular game in many parts of the Imperium, but Scout Service ethnologists have been unsuccessful in tracing its origins.


The game requires a standing panel of a height of 1.75m. This panel has eight holes drilled in it, numbered from 8 to 1 from the top, with progressively increasing diameters ranging from 5cm for the “8” hole at the top, to 8.5cm for the “1” hole at the bottom; the standard distance between consecutively-numbered holes is 3cm from the bottom of the upper hole to the top of the lower hole. The top of the “8” hole is 10cm from the top of the panel.

One small hollow plastic or celluloid ball, 4cm in diameter, with a smaller solid ball loose inside, is required, though most commercially-sold sets have at least two, and four or more is common. Each ball masses 100g.

Two eight-sided dice ,with the sides on each numbered 1 through 8, are optional (not used with all games), but usually included with commercial sets.

A standing position 3m from the panel should be marked in the play area.

Taking a Turn

The mechanics of play are the same regardless of the specific game played: The player stands at the marked 3m distance, and tosses a ball underhand at a hole in the panel, with the objective of getting the ball through the intended hole (and with effect determined by the rules of the particular game). Generally, one turn consists of tossing two balls.


There are many local variations on the games described below, but the described rules are generally agreed to be the ‘core’ rules of each game. Other games are known, but Up the Mountain, Double Down, and Hundred (or minor variations) are the most widely played.

Up the Mountain

Playable by two to four players alternating turns.

The objective is to toss one ball through each of the eight holes in the panel in sequence, starting with hole #1 at the bottom. Players are not allowed to toss for a higher number until successfully tossing for the lower numbers.

There are two widely-known optional rules:

For any particular game, either or both optional rules may be in effect by agreement of the players, or of tournament organizers.

The winner is the first player to successfully toss the ball through all eight numbers in sequence.

Double Down

Played by two to four players alternating turns.

The goal of the game is to start from 121 points and reduce one’s score to zero exactly; the first player to do so wins.

To start, each player rolls one eight-sided die. The two numbers revealed are scored double for the duration of the game.

Each player tosses two balls for his turn; if the ball goes through a hole, that number of points is deducted from his score (if the hole’s number matches either of the dice rolled at the beginning of the game, the amount deducted for that toss is doubled).

A player’s score remains at 121 until he successfully tosses the ball through one of the ‘double’ holes (and that doubled number is deducted from his score), after which all tosses that go through a hole count.

The player must end on zero exactly by tossing a ball through a ‘double’ hole; reducing one’s score to one, to below zero, or to zero without finishing on a double causes the player’s score to be reset to whatever it was at the end of his previous turn. If the player reduces his score to zero with a ‘double’ on his first toss of the turn, the second toss is omitted.

An optional rule, often used during ‘professional’ tournament play, is that only tosses that go through the ‘double’ holes reduce the player’s score; going through any other hole increases it (and this can be used strategically).


Playable by two to four players alternating turns.

The goal is for the player to reach or exceed 100 points, starting from zero.

Each turn, the player rolls two eight-sided dice. The numbers shown by the dice are the only ones that the player can score with, and must attempt both, in either order. Missing the hole, or going through an unrolled hole, scores zero for that turn.

Hundred allows for ‘handicapping’; players’ games are recorded (usually by a local darbol league) indicating the excess over 100 of their final score and the number of turns it took. A running average is also computed, and the weaker player in a handicapped game is awarded the difference in points between his running average excess and the opponent’s, and gets a number of extra turns at the beginning of the game equal to the difference in average number of turns between his running average and his opponent’s.