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Embracing the madness of Pucket

Pucket is one of the craziest games we’ve ever played. It might also be the funnest.

The goal, on paper, is utterly simple: be the first player to rid his or her side of pucks. In practice, though, this is much more easily said than done!

Getting a puck to the other side of the board requires you to fling it with the use of the string catapult at the back of the board, through an insidiously tiny aperture that is designed to be just large enough for one puck to get through at a time. Quite the problem, then, considering there’s two of you.

As you can probably imagine, the result is complete chaos. There are no turns in Pucket; this is a race, pure and simple. Victory usually comes down to who has the most speed and determination – or even endurance, in the best matches we’ve had! Your goal is to have no pucks on your side, and this includes any new ones that the other player manages to squeeze through as battle goes on.

And “battle” is right. There’s a fantastic moment that comes in Pucket with new players, as they realise, mid-game, the reality of what it means not to have to take it in turns. That it literally just comes down to how fast you can do it, and, should the other player have time to realise the same thing, then all bets will be off. No, that cannot be allowed to happen. This is war. Crush or be crushed. No longer just a game of little wooden pucks, but a full-blown battle for survival. I will win, and my foe will know destruction.

Or that’s my own experience with it, anyway.

Put differently, Pucket is just a thoroughly entertaining game of dexterity and hand-eye co-ordination, which never seems to fail in eliciting a great deal of laughter from the people we’ve seen play. It’s easy enough that just about anyone will be able to pick up and play it for five minutes, and have a good time at that.

But in the hands of competitive people its also phenomenally skilful, exciting not just to play but also for others to just crowd around and watch. I wasn’t kidding about endurance before; if you find yourself equally matched, and a game goes on for long enough, you’ll find that your arm actually starts to ache. When people start switching arms and rolling up sleeves, assuming a more martial stance with their feet, you know you’ve found a game that’s going to be a favourite for years to come.

Add to this Pucket’s gorgeous wooden aesthetic, a handled case for easier travel, and even the optional extra of ridiculously shaped, awkward pucks for the most dedicated (masochistic?) of players, and Pucket becomes a game I really have no difficulty at all in recommending.

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