Martin's Backyard Poison Croquet Rules
The last player chronologically left in the game wins.
The Wickets and Stakes
The nine wickets and two stakes are arranged in a double-diamond pattern as shown in the diagram. If you are playing on a smaller court, the distances shown should be scaled down in proportion to the length and width of the court.
Generally it is nice to have at least one mallet length between the end wickets and two mallet lengths between the stakes and the wickets.
The wickets should be firmly planted in the ground, and the width of the wickets should be uniform throughout the court.
Only the striking (end) face may be used to strike a ball.
Q: "If my ball is right up against a wicket or the turning stake, can I just hit the back of the stake or wicket and hope that knocks my ball forward?"
A: No. Your mallet head must strike the ball.
All balls are played into the game from a spot halfway between the finishing stake and wicket #1. (Ideally one mallet length from the stake)
If the striker takes a swing at his/her ball and misses entirely, the miss does not counts as a shot.
If the striker's mallet accidentally hits another ball other than the striker ball, the shot must be replayed, but with no loss of turn.
If a player plays out of turn, there is no penalty. Any ball moved during the out-of-turn play is replaced to its position prior to the error and play recommences properly. If an out of turn is initially condoned (not discovered) but then later discovered, only the last ball played out of turn is replaced and the correct ball then proceeds. Example: if red plays, then blue plays, then yellow plays, yellow is replaced, and then red plays correctly.
Scoring Wickets and Stakes
Each ball can score wickets and stakes for its side only by going through a wicket or hitting a stake in the proper order and direction. Going through a wicket out of order or in the wrong direction does not score it and is not penalized.
A ball caused to score its wicket or stake during another ball's turn is still considered scored, but no bonus shot is earned as a result.
A ball scores a wicket only if it comes to rest clear of the playing side of the wicket. If a ball passes through a wicket but rolls back, it has not scored the wicket!
An easy way to determine if a ball has cleared a wicket is to run the side of the mallet head down the plane of the playing side of the wicket. If the mallet head touches the ball on the way down, it has not cleared the wicket; if the mallet head does not touch the ball, it has cleared the wicket!
A ball begins to score a wicket only if it enters the wicket from the playing side and leaves the wicket on the non-playing side, yet this need not be in the same turn. However this means that if a ball enters the wicket from the non-playing side on one turn and comes to rest without clearing the wicket on the non-playing side, it is not yet eligible to score the wicket by simply clearing the playing side!
It the striker's ball hits another "live" ball it is a "roquet".
If a ball roquets a ball and in that same stroke the striker ball hits another ball, the second ball hit is not a roquet and remains where it comes to rest (with no deadness incurred on that ball).
After the striker ball roquets another ball, it may no longer roquet that same ball again in the same turn before scoring the next wicket or stake in order. However, there is no penalty for hitting the ball again.
The striker earns one bonus shot if the striker ball scores a wicket or hits the turning stake. The striker earns two bonus shots if the striker ball hits another ball (a "roquet"). However, the maximum number of bonus shots earned by a striker is two; there is never a time when a striker is allowed three shots.
If two bonus shots are scored by striking another ball, the first of these two shots may be taken in any of four ways:
- From a mallet-head distance or less away from the ball that was hit (“taking a mallet-head”)
- From a position in contact with the ball that was hit, with the striker ball held steady by the striker's foot or hand (a “foot shot” or “hand shot”). If the striker ball comes loose from the foot or hand after hitting it there is no penalty and you can simply play the striker ball from where it comes to rest. This is acceptable to do deliberately for strategic purposes.
- From a position in contact with the ball that was hit, with the striker ball not held by foot or hand (a “croquet shot”)
- From where the striker ball stopped after the roquet.
The second bonus shot after a roquet is an ordinary shot played from where the striker ball came to rest, called a "continuation shot".
Bonus shots may not be accumulated. Upon earning a bonus shot by scoring a wicket, hitting the turning stake, or roqueting another ball, any bonus shots will be the maximum of the possible individual bonus shots.
EXCEPTIONS: Two extra shots are earned when the striker ball scores two wickets in one shot. If the ball also hits the turning stake after scoring two wickets, two strokes are earned, not three. Conversely, if the striker ball scores the seventh wicket and hits the turning stake in the same shot, it earns two shots.
Q: "What happens when, after receiving two bonus shots, my first bonus shot clears a wicket? Do I still have 2 bonus shots or just 1?"
A: You have one shot left, in that you lose your second bonus shot from the prior roquet, but you still have one stroke left for scoring the wicket.
Wicket and Roquet
When the striker ball scores a wicket and then in the same shot hits another ball, only the wicket counts and the striker has earned only the one extra shot for scoring the wicket. The striker may then roquet any ball to earn two extra shots.
When the striker ball roquets another ball and then goes through a wicket, the wicket is scored but the striker only earns the two extra shots for the roquet (the maximum of the individual bonus shots).
Whenever any part of a ball crosses a boundary, it is brought inbounds and placed one mallet head length into the court. The ball should be placed 90 degrees inbounds and perpendicular to the line and not diagonally from the line from the point at which the ball came to rest. (Exception: When the striker ball has just roqueted (hit) another ball, the striker may choose to place it in contact with or up to a mallet-head from the ball that was roqueted.)
All balls are also immediately brought in a mallet length from the boundary when they are less than that distance from the boundary, except for the striker's ball when the striker has an extra shot.
If more than one ball crosses the boundary on the same spot, the striker may measure any ball inbounds first and then place the other(s) a mallet-head's length away from it on either side.
Any player;s ball, after completing the 9-wicket course, becomes poison.
Poison balls "kill" or eliminate other balls (Poison or not) from play if it strikes them, and also get the usual two-stroke bonus after doing so.
If a Poison ball hits a stake or goes through a wicket in any direction, it is killed.
Any number of poison balls may exist.
Poison play begins the moment the ball makes course completion contact with the beginning stake and this ball may therefor eliminate other balls during the stroke which completed the course. In fact, it need not even be the completing ball player's turn for this to happen!
If a non-Poison ball strikes a Poison ball it is eliminated. If the collision sends it through a wicket, the poison ball will also be eliminated, but due to chronology, the non-poison ball will be eliminated first.
Play for any poison rules is chronological. Example: If red, being a poison ball, passes through a wicket and then strikes blue on the other side, red is first eliminated then blue would be eliminated, but since red was eliminated first, it cannot actually eliminate blue. Therefore blue is still in the game, as it was struck by an already eliminated ball which does not constitute being struck by poison.
If a poison ball is struck and rolls, causing it to strike another poison ball, both poison balls are eliminated. In other words, the only time it is safe to hit a poison ball is if a ball is poison and it is being played by its owner.
You do not lose your shot if you miss the ball (keeps the game more beginner friendly)
Balls are measured inbound from where they come to rest instead of where they left the course. This makes for more aggressive poison to poison finales with less fear of a stale mate.
Wickets may be scored on the same stroke as a roquet even when occurring chronologically after the roquet.
A non-poison ball hitting a poison ball is eliminated.
A poison ball knocked into another poison ball causes both poison balls to be eliminated.