In Praise of Mölkky, the Greatest Lawn Game You’ve Never Heard Of
Move over, cornhole — there's a new sheriff in town
Early last year, your correspondent found himself wandering the boardwalk of Dunkirk, France, just steps away from the massive swath of sand where Operation Dynamo took place back in 1940.
Feeling rather cold and bored (aside from the WWII museum, Dunkirk is not a terribly interesting place to visit in February), I stopped to watch a ragtag crew of French millennials drinking wine straight from the bottle and chucking a wooden cylinder at a cluster of small numbered pins.
The delightfully-inebriated enfants terrible took pity on a lonely old American and roped me into the game, which I soon learned was called Mölkky, a quirky combo of bocce and bowling hailing from Finland (also the birthplace of saunas and Angry Birds; the Finns have casual time-wasting down to a science).
Granted the wine probably had something to do with it, but my inaugural Mölkky session wound up being the best afternoon of my whole trip. Without too a deep dive into the game’s rules, the basic gist is that one tosses the wooden cylinder (the titular “mölkky”) at the numbered pins (1-12, dubbed “skittles”) in an attempt to score exactly 50 points. Knock down a single pin, you get the number of points on it. Knock down multiple pins, you get one point for each pin.
Pins are set back up wherever they land, thus spreading out over the course of a game and adding an interesting wrinkle of strategy absent from typical tossin’ contests like cornhole or ladder ball.
It’s also (as I quickly learned from my French compatriots) extremely conducive to drinking and gambling, two hallmarks of a quality lawn game. Additionally it’s tres portable, always a plus.
Upon my return to the States I was delighted to discover that a Mölkky set can be had on Amazon for less than 30 bucks, and I’ve been taking it to the park with friends ever since — we’ve yet to have a session in which interested passersby haven’t stopped to inquire, some of whom I’ve seen on later outings playing with their own set.
Join our ranks, dear reader. Broaden your Labor Day lawn game horizons. Be the first on your block to spread the gospel of Mölkky.
Mölkky Original Set