Review Crokinole (by Mayday Games)

A game that needed a lot of work to get it to the table
This copy of Crokinole was kindly received from the Spanish games retailer laPCra
Crokinole - The game in its finished state
This review follows a slightly different format to my normal reviews and is made up of the following sections: The Beginning, The Game Arrives, The Game Is Fixed, Playing The Game, What We Think Of The Game and a Postscript.

The Beginning
It was during my evening with Steve Berger at his Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Association of Gamers STAG that I first heard about Crokinole, a game he mentioned as popular with his family. Not surprisingly, for me at least, I had a quick look at it on BoardGameGeek (BGG), read some reviews and looked at some photo’s. It looked interesting and very different from any of my existing games so I duly added it to my BGG Wish List, as a way of not forgetting the idea.
Crokinole - The large game board sitting on the end of the dinner table
As last years Essen approached I reviewed my Wish List and saw that one of the retailers would be carrying a version of Crokinole by Mayday Games. Looking more closely I discovered to my surprise that this game was priced at well over 100 Euro’s. My earlier superficial analysis had omitted to establish the price of the game. It was at this point that I began to appreciate that this was not a game like Carcassonne but rather Chess or Draughts where there are many makers of the game. Further investigation confirmed that this not insignificant price was very much at the lower end of the scale and that some of the Crokinole boards were beautiful pieces of craftsmanship, with a commensurate price tag

Given its cost let alone let alone its size (28 ½” diameter) this was quickly dismissed from my Essen shopping list and I thought no more about it, until…

I received a mail from Brett Gilbert a fellow member of the UK Gaming Media Network (with his own blog  Brett Spiel ) saying he had won a Spanish prize for one of his games, Oracle Pathway which has since been picked up for publication by one of the French games publishers, Asmodee, and that given the work that Imagination Gaming do he was willing to share it with us. This very generous offer allowed the northern / core element of Imagination Gaming to acquire a number of extensions to Pitch Car whilst its southern outpost received a copy of Crokinole.

The Game Arrives
When the big day and the large package arrived imagine how disappointed I was to discover that the board was coming apart and poorly finished:

A. The outer board was screwed to the inner board from its underside but most of the screws had come loose and were moving freely in their holes;

B. The fibre board outer board although screwed to the inner board had no felt backing to protect what ever table / surface it would be placed on;

C. The central well cap came away in my hand;

D. Some of the 8 central wooden pegs fitted their holes whilst others would only go part of the way in;
Crokinole - The 8 central wooden peggs. Some fit well whilst others do not!
E. The laminated / veneer surface had a number of bumps and marks on it;

F. The box that holds the playing pieces was nicely finished except that it’s cloth insert was loose and larger than the space it was supposed to cover and the holes to be used for the scoring pegs were so small the wooden scoring pegs would never fit them.
Crokinole - The scoring pegs and the holes they are supposed to fit into
Thankfully I had not had to pay for this game but having subsequently had a look at the information about the Crokinole boards manufactured by or at least for Mayday Games these problems are sadly not uncommon. However I can well imagine the frustration purchasers must feel if they buy this board at over £100 and find so many issues with it. It may be an entry level Crokinole board but if you hand over £100+ pounds you would expect the game to arrive in working order.

The Game Is Fixed
Anybody who knows me knows how useless I am when it comes to any form of DIY / game repair so the imminent arrival of my brother-in-laws for a weekend indicated it was time to start thinking about fixing Crokinole.

Phase 1 meant:
1. The purchase of wide short counter sunk wood screws from local specialist;
Crokinole - The screws that will be used to secure the inner and outer boards
2. Ordering Crokinole Tubing Assembly Kit or equivalent components from local DIY store;
Crokinole - The Tubing Assembly kit that will replace the poorly finished wooden pegs
3. Order cribbage pegs to use for the scoring board (we could obviously have just increased the size of the holes on the scoring board but that wouldn't have been nearly as much fun);
Crokinole - The new cribbage scoring pegs
4. Ambushing one brother-in-law!

Phase 2 (with said brother-in-law in charge of proceedings) meant:
1. Marking the boards in such a way as to realign them when ready to bring them back together (the outer and inner boards were only partially secured by the original screws);
Crokinole - A close up of the inner edge of the outer board with the marking to help align the two boards
2. Remove remaining screws and drill new counter sunk holes to accommodate our newly acquired screws;
Crokinole - Drilling counter sunk holes on the reverse of the outer board
3. Scratch both sides of the boards (and the central well cap) where they sit against each other in order to give the glue a better surface with which to bond;
Crokinole - Roughing the outer board to aid the adhesive
4. Apply “No More Nails” to the surface area then re-align the boards and screw them together;
Crokinole - Applying the NoMoreNails to the inner board
5. Glue the central well cap in place;
Crokinole - Applying the glue to the reverse of the inner board for the central well cap
6. Apply some form of felt backing to the outer game board to protect both the board and any surface on which it will sit;
Crokinole - The felt feet, to cover the countersunk screws and protect table surfaces
7. Go and make coffee and come back later in the day;

8. Polish the central playing board and the player disks;
Crokinole - Me waxing the board
9. Cut 8 lengths of ½” rubber tubing and screw them onto the central board in place of the wooden pegs;
Crokinole - The replacement screws with 1/2inch of tubing not the suggested 3/4inch
10. Drill 6 additional holes on the scoring board. 4 at one end of the run of holes to act as place holders for the two pegs and 2 at the other end to denote a score of 50;
Crokinole -The box for the disks with new scorring pegs
11. Job done, now we can play the game!

Playing The Game
Played as a 2 player game each player has 12 wooden disks. Players take turns flicking their disks, using thumb and forefinger, onto the circular playing board. The disk can be placed anywhere along their starting line (the outer quadrant line opposite their opponent) with not more than half of the disk over this line. If an opponent’s disk or disks are already on the board then the disk you flick must touch one of them either directly or if you also have disks on the board by knocking one of them against one of your opponent’s disks. Should your disk and any of those of your colour it touches fail to touch an opponent’s disks then your new disk and any of yours it touched are removed from play!
Crokinole - The game being played by some of our Monday night group
If however there are none of your opponent’s disks on the board then your disk must come to rest touching or within the 15 point ring. The Crokinole board has 4 scoring zones, the central well worth 20 (disks making it into this are immediately removed and placed to one side to be scored at the end of the round), the central circle, worth 15 points, the middle ring, worth 10, and the outer ring, worth 5. When all the disks have been played the players count up their points and the winner scores the difference between the two – Crokinole is a game played over a number of rounds, the winner being the first to a 100.

The game can also accommodate 4 players where each player has 6 disks and players work in two teams or for 3 players there are two alternatives: 1 player takes 12 disks and plays against the other two both of whom have 6 disks or alternatively you buy another set of disks in a third colour and everybody plays against each other.

What We Think Of The Game
Crokinole is lively, fun and requires a degree of skill that will reward practice. As a game it can be played in 10 to 15 minutes and by most ages. With the physical nature of the game it makes an excellent family game with the only issues (ignoring all those mentioned earlier!) being:

1. Its sheer size, plus understandably the instruction stating it should be stored flat and with nothing on top of it, could make it difficult to store;

2. Price, this is obviously not a cheep game.

3. I feel it player best as a two player, although we didn't try either of the 3 player options. The four player is fun but seemed to be more chaotic with disks flying everywhere.

All that said I feel it to be an excellent addition to the collection that will prove its worth over time in particular when working with non gaming groups, care homes and in community settings.

If you are interested in investigating this little known game than:

A: Check out the following retailers for some stunning and very different boards available in the UK, mainland Europe and North America:
B. Watch this excellent video review of the comparative merits of some of the alternative boards.

C. Note that at the time of publishing this post the Mayday Games web site is stating "has discontinued its prior crokinole boards and has a new and improved board "

If you would like to see more images of the game then click here and if you liked this review then other games I have reviewed can be seen here

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