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Castle Croquetnole

Adapted for the piecepack
from Lewis Carroll’s game of Castle Croquet
by Ron Hale-Evans (rwhe@ludism.org)

Version 0.3.3, 2002-10-12
4 players.
Approx. 30-45 minutes.
Requires: one standard piecepack, card table or similar.

The ingenuity of man has never conceived anything better cal-
culated to bring out all the evil passions of humanity than the
so-called game of Croquet. It is not long before every honorable
feeling, every dictate of morality has been obliterated. The hoop
is the gaping jaws of hades.
—Anonymous, Living Age magazine, 1898, quoted in The New
Games Treasury, Merilyn Simonds Mohr, 1997


Object of the Game

Each player brings his knight out of his castle by playing it through its
castle’s gate, and “invading” the other castles with it in the proper sequence.
He then re-enters his own castle and hits his tower, while his own guard is
“on duty”. The ?rst player to do so wins.

The original game of Castle Croquet, as played on lawns, requires eight
balls (two balls per player), eight hoops or wickets, and four pegs. In the
piecepack game, the balls have been replaced by coins, the wickets have
been replaced by pairs of tiles, and the pegs have been replaced by stacks
of two tiles. In the lawn game, each gate consisted of a single wicket; in the
piecepack game, in order to conserve space, each player shares the left tile
of her gate with the player to her left and the right tile of her gate with the
player to her right. Consult the diagram above if you ?nd this description
Four of the coins are called “knights”; the other coins are called “guards”.
The tiles are set up as in the illustration above, making four “castles”, each
of which consists of a gate, a door, and a tower.
Each player has one castle, one knight, and one guard, as follows:
















Each gate and each door is formed from two face-down tiles that are one
tile-width apart, which equals 2 inches for most piecepacks. Each tower is
a stack of two tiles with the Ace tile of the same suit as the player’s knight
on top, face up. (For example, Player 2 would use the Ace of Suns.) The
distance from each castle’s gate to its door, or from its door to its tower,
should also be one tile-width. Card tables are about the right size for the
playing ?eld, and because they are usually square, you can put one castle
in each corner or on each side.
Before the game begins, each player places his guard within a single coin-
width of his tower.


Starting the Game

To begin the game, the Moons player places his knight within a coin-width
of his castle’s tower, plays it, and then plays his guard (which was placed
during setup). Next, the player to his left (the Suns player) places and plays
his knight, and so on, clockwise.
To “play” a coin is to ?ick it, possibly taking bonus ?icks if permitted. As of
this writing, the de?nition of “?ick” in the Piecepack Glossary is still being
hashed out, but probably will resemble the following:
v. to propel a game piece (such as a piecepack coin) across the
playing area with a single ?nger. While a ?ick is more of a push
than a strike, it is not a sustained motion, but a sudden one.
A proper ?ick is performed by resting a single ?ngertip on the
playing surface with the ?ngernail against the game piece, then
either (1) straightening the ?nger with the hand held motionless,
or (2) straightening the whole hand at the wrist with the arm
held motionless.
After the ?rst round, each player has the option on her turn of playing her
knight (as long as it is not a prisoner), and then her guard.

Entering and Leaving Castles

If a guard goes through the gate of its castle, in the direction from its tower,
it is said to “leave” the castle; the next time it goes through it in the opposite
direction, it is said to “re-enter” it, and so on. A guard that has not left its
castle is said to be “on duty”; if it leaves it, it is said to be “off duty”; if it
re-enters it, it is “on duty” again, and so on.
In general, a coin is only said to have entered a castle if it passed in through
that castle’s gate, and it remains within the castle until it leaves through
the castle’s gate. The only exception is a coin’s own castle; in certain cir-
cumstances (such as the beginning of a game or after it has been freed from
prison), a coin may start a turn within its own castle.
If a coin is not within any castle, it is considered to be outdoors, in the

Invading Castles and Scoring
To “invade” another player’s castle, the knight must enter its gate, pass
through the door (either way), hit the tower, and go out the gate again. It


does not need to leave through the door on the way out; presumably the
denizens of the castle are in hot pursuit, so the knight jumps out a window
or something.
For your knight to “score” a gate, door, or tower, it must go through it (in
the case of gates and doors) or hit it (in the case of towers), in the sequence
given above. In order to score, it must visit the castles in the proper se-
quence as well. The proper castle sequence starts with the castle to your
left and runs clockwise.
Example: The knight of the ?rst player, Moons, must ?rst enter the Suns
castle gate, then pass through the Suns door, then hit the Suns tower, then
leave through the Suns gate, then enter the Crowns gate, pass through the
Crowns door, and so on.


If an invading knight hits, or is hit by, the guard on duty in the castle it is
invading, it becomes a “prisoner”, and is placed on top of the castle’s tower.
It is released from prison when the castle’s guard goes off duty, or when its
own guard on duty comes and hits the tower in which it is imprisoned. In
the latter case, its guard is immediately returned to its starting position.
The released knight is placed on its own tower to recover from the enemy’s
brutality until its next turn, when it is also returned to its starting position.
Note: Your guard must be on duty to release your knight from prison. That
means if it left your castle through its gate on the way to rescuing your
knight, it must go back on duty by returning to your castle through its gate,
then leave the castle some other way, before it can release your knight.
Although Lewis Carroll’s rules are unclear on this point, in Castle Croquet-
nole, after a knight has been released from prison and returned to its own
castle, it must restart the scoring sequence (gate, door, tower, gate) for the
castle in which it was imprisoned (leaving its own castle via the gate ?rst,
of course).

Bonus Flicks

Under certain circumstances, you may be entitled to ?ick a coin more than
once per turn. Coins receive the following “bonus ?icks” under the following


Knight scores a gate, door, or tower.  
Knight receives one bonus ?ick.  
Guard takes a prisoner.  
Guard receives one bonus ?ick.  
Guard leaves or enters its castle by the  gate.  
Guard receives one bonus ?ick, but may  only receive one bonus ?ick for each of  the actions per turn.  
One coin strikes another coin, and nei-  ther is a guard on duty.  
First coin receives two bonus ?icks, but  may not strike the same coin again, un-  less it scores a gate, door, or tower ?rst  (in which case it does receive the two  bonus ?icks).  
Knight hits its own off-duty guard.  
Knight may take croquet of any kind.  (see below).  
A “croquet” is one of ?ve kinds of bonus possible when your knight strikes  its own guard:  1. You may take two regular bonus ?icks.  2. You may pick up your knight and place it anywhere within a coin-  width away from your guard, then take two regular bonus ?icks.  3. You may pick up your knight and place it in contact with your guard  (without moving the guard), then ?ick the knight. This is called a  “loose croquet”. The knight then receives another bonus ?ick.  4. You may pick up your knight, place it in contact with your guard  (without moving the guard), then hold the knight down with one ?n-  ger while ?icking it with another, so as to propel the guard away but  leave the knight where it is. The knight then receives another bonus  ?ick. (If the knight happens to move, there is no penalty.) This is  called a “tight croquet”.  5. You may play your knight so as to move it only slightly, then ?ick it  in the direction of the guard and drive it some distance away on your  second ?ick. This has nearly the same effect as a “loose croquet”.  Errors and Penalties  If a player somehow ?icks his coin off of the playing surface (card table,  etc.), he returns his coin to the spot on the edge of the table where the coin  fell off, and loses the rest of the ?icks available to that coin. If he hits  another player’ s coin off the table, it is simply returned to the spot where it  fell off.  5  

For a coin to be ?icked into the gate of a castle before it has left the castle
it is already in is illegal. The coin must be replaced where it was before it
was ?icked, and may not be ?icked again that turn.
You can make Castle Croquetnole arbitrarily complex by adding penalties
from the of?cial rules of both Croquet and Crokinole. (Did you know Cro-
quet has a dress code in the US?)
Alternatively, you can play a looser game, for example, by adding the Cro-
quet rule that players may replace balls a mallet-head away from the edge
of the ?eld if they are too close or have crossed the border. (I have generally
translated a mallet-head as a coin-width where necessary.)
You can even play the game with ?amingoes and hedgehogs if you like. . .


There are two distinct strategies, the defensive and the offensive, each with
its own advantages. In the defensive strategy, your guard is usually on
duty; in the offensive strategy, it is usually off duty.

Defensive Strategy
In the defensive strategy, your guard remains at home on duty, except when
your knight is in danger of being taken prisoner. In that case, it is ?icked
up to the tower of the castle you are invading, so it can release your knight
if necessary.
In this strategy, the best position for your guard most of the time is just
behind the center of your gate, so that if a knight trying to invade your
castle hits it, it has already passed through the gate and is automatically
taken prisoner. From this position, it is also easy to take a prisoner in any
part of your castle in the following way:

1. Play your guard just out of the gate; this gives you another turn.
2. Play the guard back in, as close as possible to the invading knight;
this gives you another turn.
3. Take the knight prisoner.

Don’t do this when you have a prisoner in your castle, though, as it would
be released by your guard’s exit.
The defensive strategy is best against better players, as it enables you to
delay them by preventing their invading your castle. As soon as all the


better players have passed through your castle, though, take your guard off
duty to support your knight.

Offensive Strategy
In the offensive strategy, your guard stays with your knight; you carry the
guard along by taking “loose croquets” or “split ?icks”. (In split ?icks, two
coins are touching, and one is ?icked so that the other coin moves in a
different direction from the ?rst one.) When your knight runs out of ?icks,
either play your guard close to it, ready for the next turn, or, if your knight
is in danger of being taken prisoner, take two bonus ?icks for hitting it with
your guard, getting as close as possible to the enemy’s guard with the ?rst
?ick, and driving the enemy guard safely away with the second.
The offensive strategy enables you to make rapid progress in invading the
other castles. You can also take prisoners almost as easily as in the defen-
sive strategy, by taking two bonus ?icks for hitting your knight with your
guard, getting near your gate in the ?rst ?ick, and entering your castle in
the second. This gives you another turn, in which you can try to take a
prisoner. However, it has the disadvantage of wasted time if your knight is
imprisoned, as your guard must then go home, get back on duty, and return,
before it can release your knight.

If your knight is taken prisoner, and you release it by hitting the enemy’s
tower with your guard, you are often in a position in which you can delay
the other players. First, immediately after your knight is released, place
your guard in a line between your tower and an invading knight aiming
at it; second, place your knight close to your guard on your next turn, then
drive your guard in the direction of an invading knight and take it prisoner.
It follows that when you have taken a prisoner, and are invading the castle
from which it came, you should not wait until the enemy’s guard has hit
your tower and released the prisoner. Instead, release it yourself when the
enemy’s guard has nearly reached your tower, by playing your own guard
out through your gate and back in again. In this case the guard, which was
on its way to your tower, can’t be returned immediately, but must be played
all the way home.
If an invading knight is near your gate, you may take it prisoner as follows:
?rst, play your guard out, near the invading knight; then hit the knight
with your guard, and take two bonus ?icks for hitting it. Leave the invading
knight in a line between your guard and your gate with your ?rst ?ick, then
drive both in together with your second ?ick. This gives you another turn,
in which you may take the knight prisoner.



Thanks to Mark Biggar and his piecepack game Tabletop Croquet for show-
ing the way to turn Croquet into a tabletop ?icking game. I have adopted
some of his rules on player errors.
Thanks to the (very) late Lewis Carroll for his game Castle Croquet, the
text of which is now in the public domain (I have cribbed from it heavily).
I have attempted to make these rules a straightforward adaptation of Car-
roll’s game to the piecepack.
Thanks to Tim Schutz, himself a designer of many ?ne piecepack games,
for the sharp illustration of the layout of the board. With any luck, you
will soon be able to buy plans and kits for Crokinole-style boards for Castle
Croquetnole, as well as ?nished boards, from his Penny Games website.
Thanks also to Bruce Whitehill for his modi?cation and modernisation of
Castle Croquet. Although this ruleset is an adaptation of Carroll’s game,
not Whitehill’s, I have adopted some terms from Whitehill’s version (such
as “knight”, “guard”, and “tower”, where Carroll used “soldier”, “sentinel”,
and “peg”), since more people may be familiar with Whitehill’s version. (I
like Carroll’s “door” better than Whitehill’s “archway”, however.) I have
also adopted Whitehill’s nice clari?cation of when a knight or guard is in a
castle and when it is outside.
Thanks to my wife and usual collaborator in game design, Marty Hale-
Evans, for editing this document.
Finally, thanks to my playtesters: Tim Schutz, Chris Sjoholm (a Crokinole
?end who ?rst suggested building a custom board), Steve and Nat Dupree,
and Jason, whose surname I didn’t catch, but who won the very ?rst game
of Castle Croquetnole.

Penny Games website of tjgames.com (soon to carry Castle Croquetnole
boards, plans, and kits):
Bruce Whitehill’s Big Game Hunter site (contains abridged version of his
modi?ed rules for the Castle Croquet lawn game):
Of?cial USCA rules of Croquet:


Two good Crokinole sites, including rules and FAQs:
Of?cial piecepack site:
Latest version of this ruleset in several formats, including HTML, PDF, and

0.3.3, 2002-10-13: Re-organised. Edited by Marty Hale-Evans. First public
0.3.2, 2002-10-12: Added “Links” section. More de?nitions. Clari?ed rules
about guard releasing imprisoned knights, ?fth kind of croquet, inside/outside,
0.3.1, 2002-10-08: Clari?ed rules for bonus ?icks and croquets.
0.3, 2002-10-06: Converted to LATEX . Now includes Tim Schutz’s snazzy il-
lustration of the board instead of my lame one. Changed some tile distances
to make the board smaller; made castles share gateposts for the same rea-
son. Included link to future site of handmade Castle Croquetnole boards.
Expanded Credits, and added this History section.


Copyright 2002 by Ron Hale-Evans. Permission is granted to copy, dis-
tribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Doc-
umentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free
Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and
no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license can be found here: