Crokinole has been making its way toward the Major Fun Award for almost 140 years. Although the names of those who built the first Crokinole board are lost to us, we do know that the game emerged from Ontario in the early 1870s and has been a popular table-top game ever since. It is related to other classic accuracy games like shuffleboard, carrom, and pitchnut, as well as more modern “sliders” like Fastrack, RoadZters, PitchCar, and (in some ways) Wey Kick.
The board is a circle: 30 inches across with a playing surface that is 26 inches in diameter. The playing surface is surrounded by a 2 inch “moat” that catches the wooden disks that players flick about. In a 2 player or 2 team game, each side gets 12 wooden disks that they flicked across the playing surface in order to score points. The playing area is divided into 4 concentric rings, each ring has a point value (5, 10, 15, 20). To complicate matters, 8 pegs stand sentinel around the edge of the 15 point ring.
Opponents alternate flicking the wooden pucks. The puck must start on the line farthest from the center of the board. If you are the first to shoot OR if your opponents do not have any disks on the board, your disk must come to rest within the 15 point ring. If it does, it stays there. If it does not, the disk is removed to the moat. If your opponent has a piece on the board, you must hit that piece before your disk comes to rest. If you fail to hit your opponent’s disk, yours is removed to the moat.
As the first few disks that stay on the board clog up the 15 point ring, new disks start to bump them out. Now players must decide if they will try to navigate the treacherous 15 point ring or try to eliminate opponent disks from the outer rings. There is a significant amount of strategy involved to complement the manual dexterity of aiming and flicking the disks.
The disks themselves are surprisingly interesting. They are shaped so that one side is “faster” than the other. One side is slightly convex and one side is slightly concave. The convex side has less surface area to rub against the table and therefore slides farther and faster than the concave side. Knowing which side to use and how much force to apply adds another level of complexity to the game.
The center ring is actually a hole in the board, only slightly wider than the diameter of one of the disks. If a disk falls completely into the hole, that team scores 20 points and the disk is removed from the board (so that others may have the joy of a 20 point “bullseye”). It is not uncommon that you knock your opponent into the 20 point hole.
Oh the shame…
The game is Major Fun. Lots of tension. Lots of groans from shots that are close but not quite. Lots of fist pumping when a shot is perfect (or lucky). There is a reason it has endured for over a century and a reason that there are international competitive tournaments for this game. Mayday has done a fantastic job of making a high quality playing surface and providing us with clear rules (complete with suggestions for novice players and rule variations to keep things lively). Find a place for this game in your home (maybe someone could build a combination Wey Kick / Crokinole game table…) and it will help while away those indoor hours (like the one produced by the March snow storm that is descending on my home right now…)
For 2-4 players, ages 8+
Crokinole, as tasted by Major Fun and our merry band of Games Tasters, was brought to us by the good folks at Mayday Games.