Adventure Croquet

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This is a game accidentally invented by Nemo at Nerissa's birthday. It's casual fun only and not to be taken too seriously (this does not preclude it being a potential sport for future Olympics)

Adventure Croquet simplifies croquet down to "A race through hoops", but complicates it by being on an obstacle course (hoops next to trees, paths through picnic furniture, etc) which is created unique each time. It also provides two different styles of winning - fastest, and most points.


Take your croquet hoops (I use 11) and arrange them in any fashion in the play area, be it a park, hiking trail, front-and-back lawn of your house, neighbours lawns, etc. There is no technical limit to total size, but practical limit is that all parts of the course are within earshot of each other. Additionally, set one peg to indicate the start, another for the finish.

The hoops have a specific order to play, and a specific direction per hoop. This should be clearly marked (eg, colour bands on the hoops) or reasonably evident from the course layout.

The course may either be laid out as a loop, or as a path end to end. Either way, it is traversed twice (forward again if it's a loop, or in reverse if it's a path. Nemo prefers the path.

One hoop (ideally the middle one of the course) may be deemed a wildcard hoop. This is placed in an impossible position (eg: sideways on a tree, or flat on grass) and the first player to get to it (within 1m) can then place it at their choosing. If there is a spare peg, then that may be used to indicate visually the location of the wildcard. A mallet length may be used instead of "1m" distance measure.

Actually playing

A players ball must begin within 1m (or 1 mallet length) of the starting peg, but not more than one mallet head length from the first hoop.

Players take turns hitting their ball to the next hoop. If it goes through, they get an extra hit. "Through" is defined as fully through at any time while the ball is in motion. If it achieves part-way-through at best, then it is not through. If it achieves all-way-through whilst in motion and then rolls back through (in part or in whole) due to being on a slope, it IS counted as through.

The end peg must be hit by the ball before the second half - which is either a second lap or reversing the course (reversing both order and direction of hoop travel).

The second time through adds the following:

  • Whenever a player's ball passes through a hoop, they now have two options:
  1. Take the extra hit
  2. Claim the hoop

If the hoop is claimed, then they forfeit a second hit, and any players following no longer have to achieve that hoop. Note that hoops may be claimed by a player on a return journey that slower players are yet to achieve on their forward journey.

This now gives two winning modes:

  1. Win on speed - the first player to get their ball back to hitting the start post. this winner is known as the Lord of the Hoops (because "there and back again")
    • best tactic to achieve this: don't claim hoops. Take the double-hit every time
  1. Win on points (most hoops) - this winner is known as the Hoop Master (no particular reason, just needed another title)
    • best tactic to achieve this: take hoops as often as possible, but balance it with staying at or near the lead to maximise hoop-claiming opportunity.

It is possible to be both Lord and Master.


  • Claiming the hoops ensures the course is self-cleaning
  • Hitting the end peg (turnaround or start of second lap) does not grant a second hit. However the last player to reach that peg claims it as a point (If it's a return course they also physically claim the peg. If it's a loop course then the peg must remain but the point still counts. This point is not available to any previous player.
  • The player in last position through any hoop (ie, nobody else remaining to traverse it) on the return/second lap, MUST claim the hoop, but also retain their second hit bonus.
  • If a players ball is knocked through their target hoop by another players ball, they gain the position advancement, but can claim neither a second hit, nor on the second half are they eligible to claim the hoop.
  • Other croquet rules are not used (mainly thinking the rules regarding roquet!)

Pros and Cons

  • Pro: Simple to learn
  • Pro: every course is dynamically different
  • Pro: the further behind you are, the more likely hoops are claimed and thus allow you to catch up on the second half. This helps to keeps the group of players together. The "...and back again" version is also preferred since turning around assists the process of re-grouping players rather than a second lap.
  • Pro: tactics
  • Con: Some courses simply suck. There is probably someone directly at fault for that.

Course design advice

A good course will have a balance of multiple elements

  • localised obstacles. For instance a tree immediately in front or behind the hoop, or placed partly under a bush
  • terrain issues. For instance, on a smooth slope creating a rolling hazard
  • layout complications. For instance, multiple hoops near each other in a complex pattern (zigzag, spiral, etc)
  • distance. Simply having hoops be far apart.

Remember that the entity of a course should be within earshot of itself, as players will spread out during the game - especially the first half. They're likely to clump back up in the second half.

Any given hoop should be part of two elements above at most. eg, distant from all other hoops, and have a localised obstacle is fine. Having a localised obstacle AND a terrain issues AND be distant from all others is just a bit too much.

Not all hoops need adventure. Some may be nice and neat, giving players a reprieve.

House rules

  • If there is too much adventure (ie, some hoops are in fact too hard), the game may find itself progressing too slowly - to the frustration of players. In that case merely touching the hoop can be treated as sufficient to advance.


Idea in development

Rules in flux. Suggestions always welcome.
Nemo - 2020Jun13

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