Crokinole is a dexterity game where players flick their pucks into their opponents’ – trying to knock them off the board, and finish with their own pucks in scoring positions.
There’s no one defining board as lots of companies produce them (Joe’s is pictured here), and many crokinole boards are home-made. They come in various shapes and finishes, with the one (nearly) constant being the polished finish, and the scoring zones.
The board is either circular, or at least as a circular scoring area on it. In the centre of the board is the ‘Toad’ – a slightly recessed hole that if you sink your puck into with a legal shot, will count for 20 points. The circular area around the Toad is worth 15 points, and there are several small posts around this inner ring that pucks will bump into and ricochet off. Outside of the post area is a 10 point ring, then finally a 5 point ring closest to the edges of the board.
Players begin with 12 pucks and take turns playing a shot. A legal shot is one that must hit – directly or otherwise – one of your opponents’ pucks. Only if your opponent has no pucks on the board can you simply play to score points – usually by aiming for the Toad! If your shot is illegal, the puck you just played (and any of your own pucks it made contact with) are removed from the board. After both (or all, in a team game) players have played their pucks the points are totaled and the difference between the winner and loser of that round is the recorded score.
There are some finer points, but that is the essence of play. The game continues until an agreed score has been reached. Crokinole can be played as a straight up head-to-head, three-player or in two teams of two.
A well-made Crokinole board is going to set you back a pretty penny, so unless you foresee a lot of use it might be wise to settle on the more bijou Push It, which is not too far removed – and available at a fraction of the price. But having said that, there’s something satisfying about the highly-polished finish of a Crokinole board and the way the pucks serenely glide across it – before knocking into your puck out of the game! It’s a beautiful object too. Continuing the Push It comparison, Crokinole does have more of a story to it; games feel less repetitive and a well-placed flick can swing the likely winner from one way to the other.
The essence of Crokinole is a battle for position – but it’s hardly a game of deep strategy. You ideally want to sink a 20 shot with each flick, but the presence of your opponents pucks forces you to deal with them first. It’s fast-paced and supremely more-ish, and incredibly satisfying when you manage to shunt your opponent into the ditch and yourself into the toad in one swift move.