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Why Crokinole is the Best Party Game Ever

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Say you’re having a gathering of friends or maybe even something that you would refer to as a small party. Say they’re friends that you’ve had made through different circles and you’d like them to mingle. Obviously it would be better to have something for them to do as an icebreaker. Playing a party game that’s actually fun brings people back to the feeling of their first birthday parties. However playing the wrong party game can make people bail on the party altogether. What to do?

Makes sure you have the party game that delivers every time: Crokinole.

Clear off some space of the kitchen table and play the best possible party game imaginable. Crokinole is probably not one that a lot of people have in their closet unless you come from certain places in Canada. So you’re going to be a hero if you introduce it to a room full of people and they get hooked.

Hand preparing to flick a crokinole disc.

Hand preparing to flick a crokinole disc.

What is Crokinole?

It is a dexterity board game. That is a fun subclass of board game in which you get to physically manipulate something to make an action happen. In the case of Crokinole you’re flicking a disc into the whole in the middle of a wooden circular board. You're not allowed to get up or dramatically re-position your body before you take a shot. If you’re opponents disc is sitting on the board then you have to hit it first before you can land in the hole in the middle. You’re trying to knock your opponents disc either into the ditch or into a lower scoring position. After all of the discs have been played there is an adding up of the the scores. You play in either teams of two or four players. (Official Crokinole Rules, 2018.)

There is definitely something like curling about it which is something that makes it feel extra Canadian as well. People say that it combines it with hockey which I suppose is keeping it within a Canadian sports theme. But to me it always seemed like combining being an Olympic curler and a field goal kicker.

What’s fun about Crokinole?

It’s one of those things that simple but still challenging. Think about one of earlier most popular video games for phones was Angry Birds. Even with all the advancements of video games people really got hooked on a single slingshot approach to a video game. Well Crokinole is kind of similar. There is something primal about flicking the Crokinole disc that makes it very easy to get into this game. The act of watching the disc fall into the hole is satisfying (as is knocking your opponents disc into the ditch). Even the name Crokinole is fun to say. It comes from the French work Croquignole which is sort of donut pastry. (A Short History of Crokinole, 2014.)

The act of flicking the disc is tricky enough that it is difficult to master but accessible enough that most people will be able to pick it up right away. There will also be the occasional impressive fluke shot to stoke the ego. You can actually sort of shank the disc off of your fingernail if you don’t hit it straight on. Or you can send it flying way farther than it’s supposed to go when you don’t realize your own strength. When that happens if you have enough people around everybody will start to laugh.

The layout of the crokinole board.

The layout of the crokinole board.

Why is Crokinole better at a party than Board Games?

Board Games are painfully dull when you’re not playing. They really only work in a party setting when the exact amount of people at the party is the maximum allowed to play the game. If you bust out a game of Monopoly you’re going to divide the room between people who are bored of playing the game and people who have wandered to entertain themselves elsewhere (and possibly wandered all the way home).

Crokinole on the other hand is wildly exciting to spectate. This is often what it takes to draw people into it. People don’t necessarily want to be put on the spot with a party game. But when they can watch and see how easy it is it will encourage them to want to take a turn.

Why is Crokinole better at a party than Card Games?

The main two problems with card games is picking a card game and then having to teach everybody the rules of the game. Usually the debate over which card game to play stems from the fact that people are pushing to play games for which the rules they already know. There is a certain level of intimidation that I feel every time that somebody explains to me the rules of a card game for the first time. It’s always just a lot of abstract information to keep track of suits and passing of turns and what not.

I think most people assume everybody knows how to play poker, but I don’t. I’ve always found something about it a little bit cold with the making an effort to not show any emotion. This isn’t really going to “break the ice” as intended. There is also something just a whole lot more wholesome about playing Crokinole than by playing poker.

This is why Crokinole is so great. You’re just flicking a disc with your fingers. Pretty much everybody is going to be able to pick this up right away. It’s dynamic so there is something more exciting with connecting with the disc than there is from flipping over a card.

Why is Crokinole better at a party than Pictionary?

In fairness Pictionary is a game that leaves rooms for things to get pretty hilarious. However it suffers from the same accessibility problems that Card Games do.People get self conscious about their ability to draw when they’re playing Pictionary. Whenever I play Pictionary I feel like there is some power dynamic between the people who know how to draw well and the people who don’t. So this game will surely divide people and cause others to become withdrawn.

Why is Crokinole better at a party than Video Games?

Video Games are very fun to play. They can be even mildly fun to watch. However the cause something to physically happen to a room full of people. Everybody turns and faces in the same direction and focuses on the TV rather than on each other. Video Games do the opposite of breaking the ice and make everybody feel withdrawn. People have substituted the awkwardness of small talk with focusing in on something that keeps them from having to be social (This is the same for watching a movie as well.

Crokinole board with Red and Blue Discs

Crokinole board with Red and Blue Discs

What makes Crokinole so social?

Everybody can sit around the Crokinole board and face each other even if their not playing. With four people sitting at each end of the board there is enough room for another eight people to hang comfortably top cheer on the other players. That was the point of the game anyway to elevate the party from awkward small talk to a more comfortable place.

The action is happening in real time for everybody to react to together. It’s like watching and reacting to professional sports on TV except all of the action is being by your friends right in front of you. You’re physically doing something (In this case it’s flicking the discs). There is something more alive and tactile about hitting something physically with your fingers. It’s almost like playing a pick up game of sports but only using your fingertips.

Crokinole is accessible. It’s easy to pick up and play. It’s simple to follow for those who are watching from the sides. When playing Crokinole everybody is around the table. People are facing each other. Subtle flirting can take place between the Crokinole rounds. It’s bringing the party closer together in a social way which was the whole point of bringing out the game in the first place.

References

McLaren Ryan (2014, April 2) A Short History of Crokinole (And an Even Shorter History of Hockey) Brojects. Retrieved from: http://brojects.tv/short-history-of-crokinole/

(2018) Official Cronkinole Rules World Crokinole Championship. Retrieved from: http://www.worldcrokinole.com/thegame.html

How to Play Crokinole

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