Dale Yu: Review of Mölkky

  • Designer: uncredited (traditional Finnish game)
  • Ages: 6+
  • Time: 15-30 minutes
  • Players: any number

Times played: >20 with review set provided by Tactic Games (http://www.tactic.net)

When I was first contacted by a representative of Tactic to take a look at their new games, I’ll admit that I was a bit skeptical, but the idea of a outdoor-based family style game seemed like it might be a good fit for the backyard or the lake house in the summertime.



Mölkky is a traditional Finnish game which is similar to Skittles.  The pieces are 13 cylinders of wood: 12 of them are numbered from 1 to 12 and the final piece is a simple cylinder.  The set from Tactic comes in a nice wooden carrying case with rope handles.  The goal is to be the first player to exactly 50 points.  The game starts with all of the skittles packed in a tight formation


On your turn, grab the throwing stick (the Mölkky) and throw it underhanded at the skittles – you stand about 10 feet away from the starting formation. You are trying to knock down one or more of the skittles with the Mölkky.  If you knock down multiple skittles, you score a number of points equal to the number of skittles that you knock over.  In order to be counted, the skittle must be completely knocked over and not resting on any other piece of wood.  If you knock down a single skittle, then you score a number of points equal to the number written on that particular skittle.

throwing the Molkky

throwing the Molkky

After each turn, any knocked over skittles are picked up and placed wherever they happened to have ended their movement.  At the beginning of the game, all of the skittles remain closely packed, but as the game progresses, they end up strewn across the yard!


As I mentioned earlier, the goal is to be the first to score exactly 50 points.  In order to do this, you will likely need to knock over a high numbered single skittle to gain an advantage over your opponents.  However, you do need to be fairly careful in where you throw the Mölkky… If you are unable to knock over a skittle in three consecutive turns, you are eliminated from the game!  Furthermore, if you manage to exceed 50 points, your score reverts back to 25 points giving you a lot of ground to make up on the score sheet.

My thoughts on the game

As I mentioned earlier, I was a bit skeptical when I was approached to review the game – but I’m glad that I took them up on the offer.  Mölkky has become an unprecedented hit around here.  Everyone that has played it has thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and it is rare that we only play a single game.  Both kids and adults can enjoy this together, and I must admit that my game seems to improve with a frosty bottle of adult beverage in my non-Mölkky holding hand.  The distance of 10 feet away is not so far to eliminate your uncoordinated friends – and the way that the Mölkky unpredictably bounces when it hits the ground causes plenty of surprising results.

Most games start with players simply chucking the Mölkky at the center of the group trying to knock over as many skittles as possible.  Once this happens a few times though, the real game comes into play.  Trying to figure out how to only knock over a single skittle is actually a much harder task than it would initially seem!  Furthermore, the constant pressure of disqualification keeps you from continually trying risky shots.

For awhile we were keeping score on paper (cumbersome) and then in our heads (not reliable) – but once I found a few free Mölkky scoring apps for my phone, playing and scoring the game became easy peasy.  The game has already become a regular activity around the house, and I’m very glad to have been introduced to it.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

  • I love it! Dale Y
  • I like it. John P
  • Neutral
  • Not for me.

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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1 Response to Dale Yu: Review of Mölkky

  1. jeffinberlin says:

    Berlin friends introduced us to this game last summer, and I enjoyed my first play of it! Looking forward to playing again soon.

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