In previous posts, we’ve discussed how a pool player and an aspiring curler might enjoy the 19th-century Canadian table sport crokinole. As part of this series where we try to convince everyone to play crokinole, we thought we’d aim for shuffleboard players next.
Shuffleboard refers to a few different variants on the same concept: players push discs down a playing surface, trying to get them to land within a marked scoring area, commonly a triangle, labeled with numbers. Players of floor shuffleboard use cues to propel their discs along a deck, floor, or portable mat. It’s played everywhere from the decks of cruise ships to the courts of retirement communities. In table shuffleboard, a popular bar game, players push weighted discs (or pucks) with their hands to send them sliding across a shuffleboard table. For this post, we’ll focus on table shuffleboard.
In crokinole, players flick discs on a board with their fingers, not their hands, and try to get them as close to the center of the circular playing surface as possible. The center is guarded by a ring of eight pegs, and players must also focus on flicking opponents’ pieces out of position. As in table shuffleboard, the playing surface is surrounded by a gutter to catch rogue discs. For more on crokinole, you can read about its history here.
If you enjoy playing table shuffleboard, here are five reasons why you’ll love crokinole.
1. Your favorite part of shuffleboard is watching and listening as your discs glide.
In table shuffleboard, you enjoy the sensation of pushing your pucks and watching them slide—the soft sound of the weights moving against the bead-like shuffleboard wax and the sharp smack when pucks collide with each other are music to your ears. Crokinole provides these same sensations without the beads: if your board is in good shape, you don’t have to flick your disc too hard to send it flying, and there can be something immensely satisfying about hearing the wooden discs clink against each other or against the pegs. The sounds provide calming white noise as you play.
2. You love developing both offensive and defensive strategies.
In both shuffleboard and crokinole, players must try to score the most points while preventing opponents from scoring. At all times, you need to simultaneously think several rounds ahead and consider your opponent’s plans. Like chess, they are complex games, with different strategies based on the rules of play. In many versions of crokinole, if no other discs are on the board when it’s your turn, you need to flick your disc so that it lands within the center ring—this ensures that it is easier for your opponent to strike your disc, which they must do in order to complete a legal shot. In shuffleboard, the first player is automatically on the defensive, as the next player will likely shoot their puck out of bounds. A common strategy, therefore, is to aim your shots so that they protect your other, higher-scoring pucks farther down the table.
3. Crokinole can be a social activity or an intense competition, just like shuffleboard.
People play shuffleboard in bars across the country, and crokinole could easily fill this role. You can play either game with drink in hand, so bars could have crokinole boards on tables available for patrons, who could shoot their discs in between drinks or snacks. Crokinole and shuffleboard also lend themselves well to competitive play, as they both involve skills that can be mastered. Should you wish to become professional, there are tournaments and championships held throughout the world (e.g. the Table Shuffleboard Association and the World Crokinole Championship).
4. You like the option of playing singles or doubles.
Like pool, shuffleboard and crokinole can both accommodate singles and doubles play: players can engage in one-on-one battles or form opposing teams with two players each. People often go out to bars or sports facilities in relatively small groups, with one to three other friends or acquaintances, so these games are perfectly suited for the average party or gaming group. Player accommodation and the varied social applications of these games are testaments to how versatile they are.
5. Crokinole is more portable than a shuffleboard table, and it’s less expensive.
As we mentioned in the post comparing crokinole and pool, crokinole has the upper hand in terms of cost and portability. Buying your own shuffleboard table can be just as expensive as buying a pool table, and it’s just as difficult to transport. In contrast, you can find crokinole equipment for a fraction of the price: all you need are the discs and the board. While it can’t be folded up into a box like other board games, the crokinole board is still much more portable than an entire shuffleboard table.
Shuffleboard, pool, and crokinole all belong to the same family of social, dexterity-based games. Hopefully, through reading these series of posts, players of these other games will come to see crokinole’s potential and welcome it into their own families.