Finding that perfect outdoor lawn game used to be a tricky task, especially if we have children. However, now, we can always opt for the Molkky game — a Finnish game with sticks that offers a ton of amusement for the whole family.
In essence, Molkky is not that difficult to play, and it’s not dangerous at all. Nevertheless, there are some Molkky rules we need to pay attention to, especially if we want to strategize and actually beat our opponents.
Wondering how to win at this game? Stick around then — here we have the ultimate guide to Molkky that will teach us everything we need to know about it.
Molkky is one of the most popular Finnish outdoor games, although it’s become famous all over the world as well. Its inventor is a Finnish company called Lahden Paikka, which invented it in 1996.
Now, this doesn’t mean that Molkky is an entirely new game. Fundamentally, it’s similar to the Kyykkä game, which people in the Karelia region used to play. However, there’s one significant difference. In the Kyykkä game, the players had to throw an enormous bat to knock down the pins. Thus, we could say that Molkky is a more user-friendly version of Kyykkä.
What’s interesting about the name of this game is that it doesn’t really mean anything. The inventors coined the term themselves. However, it sounds similar to pölkky, which means “a block of wood” in Finnish.
The trickiest bit about the Molkky yard game’s name is its pronunciation and spelling. Most of the time, it’s spelled either molky or molki — both incorrect, of course.
In order to make its pronunciation a bit easier, we mostly spell it without the “ö” that is apart of the original name — Mölkky.
Molkky is pronounced as [ˈmølkːy]. So the “o” sounds a bit like “eu.” It’s somewhere in between an “e” and an “u,” but we arrange our lips as if we are trying to pronounce an “o.”
Since both the pins and the skittle are made of 100% wood, the Molkky game dimensions may vary. However, in terms of size, we should remember that the pins are always smaller than the throwing skittle.
The wood diameter should be about 2.1 inches, while the pin length should be about 5,9 inches. The size of the throwing skittle is about 8,8 inches, give or take. In any case, the twelve wooden pins don’t need to have the same exact dimensions, but they should be similar in size.
In order to beat our opponents, we have to know how to play the Molkky game. Thankfully, Molkky rules are not that difficult to learn, so even our children will know how to play it after just 15 minutes.
The gist of the game is this: each player has a chance to knock over some pins. There are 12 pins in Molkky, which are arranged in the shape of a diamond and marked with numbers. We also have the throwing skittle, which doesn’t have a number on it.
The players first have to decide who will throw first. After the first round, we set the order of throwing according to the scores — from the lowest to the highest score.
Each player tries to knock over either just one pin or more of them. However, the scoring is a bit different for each of these situations, so we will elaborate a bit later in the article.
Nevertheless, it’s vital to know that after three throws, if the player hasn’t knocked down any of the pins, they're out. Also, after each throw, if some of the pins are on the ground (i.e., we’ve knocked them down), they have to be stood up without us changing their position. So we don’t arrange the pins again into the original formation.
The game ends once a player has 50 points. However, there’s a catch here. It has to be exactly 50 points. If we go just one point over, our score will drop to 25, and we’ll have to play some more.
In order for us to score in Molkky, we have to knock down either one pin or various ones. Why? It’s because the scoring is a bit unusual in this game.
Each one of the pins has a number on it. So if we knock over just one pin, the number of points we get is the number indicated on the pin. However, if we knock down anywhere between two and twelve pins, we only get as many points as there are pins. So if we knock down three pins, we get 3 points.
According to the Molkky game rules, the throwing distance is about 12 feet (officially, 3.50m with +/- 3.9 inches). In order to always set the right distance, the players can draw a throwing line once they set up the pins.
They can also use the mölkkaari. The mölkkaari comprises of four interconnected pieces of wood that we can place on the ground to delimit the part of the lawn from which the player can throw.
The pins we need to knock down in Molkky are about 5,9 linches in length and 2.1 inches in diameter. Nevertheless, if we want to make our own Molkky game at home, the dimensions may vary a little. The important thing is that the pins can stand on the lawn and that they can be easily knocked down.
in length and 2.1 inches in diameter. Nevertheless, if we want to make our own Molkky game at home, the dimensions may vary a little. The important thing is that the pins can stand on the lawn and that they can be easily knocked down.
The throwing skittle is a bit larger, standing at about 8.8 inches
Each Molkky set consists of 12 pins and one throwing skittle. We only use the throwing skittle when trying to knock down the pins. However, in order to set up the game, we have to first arrange the 12 pins accordingly.
The arrangement of the pins is as follows:
Since Molkky is quite similar to bowling, the formation will be similar as well. It needs to have a diamond shape. Also, there’s no general rule regarding the exact distance between the pins. A good rule of thumb is that they should just touch.
As usual, every player can benefit from some kind of strategy. Still, it’s a bit difficult to strategize when playing Molkky because more often than not, the other players are watching us like hawks.
Therefore, the first rule of any Molkky strategy is that we should never reveal our plan. Furthermore, the only real way to strategize is to try to knock down only ONE pin at a time. That way, we’ll score more points.
For example, one player can knock down all twelve pins and get 12 points. But we can also just knock down that one pin that has number 12 on it — and get 12 points!
The entire Molkky lawn game is made from wood, so in order to make one at home, we would need to find wood somewhere.
The type of wood depends on what we find. Nevertheless, we should avoid cedar, as it can get dented quite quickly. If we have some oak pieces or perhaps some pieces from untreated spruce, that will increase the quality of our DIY project.
1. We need to decide on the size of the pins. We can either use the official dimensions or just use any size we want. Typically, the pins should be smaller than the throwing skittle, so we need to take that into account as well. The diameter should be about 2.1 inches, and the length of the pins should be about 5.9 inches. Meanwhile, we need to make the throwing skittle a bit larger, so about 22 to 8.8 inches should do.
2. The next step is to treat the wood with some sandpaper and make sure there are no cracks. After that, we can chop up our pieces, give the pins a slight slant at the top, sand the edges and clean any sanding dust off.
3. We need to add the numbers on top of the pins. Just a regular Sharpie will do, but we first have to trace the numbers so as not to make a mistake. Then, all we have to do is color in the numbers with the Sharpie.
4. The final step is adding some finishing touches and coating the pins with some sort of finish. A good option is to use a polyurethane floor finish, but anything transparent would do. We can also paint the pins in different colors, stain them or leave them as they are.
Unless there’s a way for us to order the Molkky game from Finland (which can be a bit tricky), the best place to look for it is Amazon. There we can find many manufacturers who make this game, and we can always compare the quality by reading the reviews.
Among all the Finnish outdoor games we’ve ever come across, the Molkky game is definitely our favorite. Not only is it easy to play and suitable for the whole family, but it’s easy to make at home as well! Furthermore, the Molkky rules are as simple as they can get, so it’s safe to say that this lawn game will provide all the participating players with many hours of fun.