How to Play
To begin the game each player takes a goal and adds it to their side of the gameboard. Each player takes a blocker, one full buck and one half buck.
Each turn one player is the shooter while the other players are blockers. The shooter takes the shooting buck and places it within 2 inches of their own goal. The timer is then started. The shooter tries to shoot the shooting buck into one of the other players’ goals. The other players try to block any shots at their goal with their blocker. The shooting player can keep shooting (from within two inches of their own goal) until the timer runs out or one of the following occur:
- The shooting buck lands in the center hole.
- The shooting buck flies off the board.
- The shooting buck ends up in the shooter’s own goal.
If a player successfully gets the shooting buck into another players’ goal, the shooter receives one half buck from the player whose goal the buck was shot into and they receive one half buck from the bank. Since the player can keep shooting until the timer runs out or one of the other events occur, bucks aren’t collected until the end of the players’ turn.
Whichever player is the first to five full bucks is the winner of the game.
In 1970 the game Buckshot The World’s Fastest Indoor Game was created by Parker Brothers. In Buckshot, like air hockey, one player tries to hit the puck/buck into other players’ goals. I like air hockey so I was intrigued when I found the game at a thrift store. The game looked interesting since it looked like a variant of air hockey that supported four players. Despite the potential to be a good game, Buckshot is not very good.
Buckshot is not a good game because it just isn’t that fun. I might have had a little fun for the first couple of minutes but I quickly bored of the game. Buckshot’s biggest problem is that it tries to be air hockey without having the benefit of having the air running along the board. In air hockey there is little friction that affects the puck. Therefore you don’t have to hit the puck very hard to get it moving and the puck for the most part moves in the direction that it was hit. Without the air, friction has a large impact on the game. Friction slows/alters every shot you make. To even get the buck to another players’ goal you really have to hit it hard. Hitting it hard ruins your accuracy and generally leads to the buck flying off the gameboard.
You would think a game like Buckshot would have required quite a bit of skill like air hockey. As it turns out, the game relies a lot more on luck than you would expect. Due to the friction of the gameboard altering the path of the buck after it is shot, anything could happen to a shot so there is not much you can do to get better at shooting the bucks. Your best strategy is to shoot as much as possible. Since the buck usually moves in a kind of random fashion, the more opportunities you have the better. The buck moves so randomly at times that the following occurred in the short amount of time I played the game. A player shot the buck at another players’ goal. It hit the players’ goal bouncing backwards. It then hit the center hole and finally bounced back into the goal it originally hit. The only way that shot works is through pure luck.
Buckshot’s subtitle “The World’s Fastest Indoor Game” is pretty misleading in my opinion. The game is not slow by any stretch but it is also not nearly as fast as it could have been. The game is slowed down by the constant requirement of having to pick up the buck and place it back in front of your base. This gets irritating quickly. You actually probably spend a larger amount of your turn moving the buck back to your base than you spend actually shooting it. There really isn’t much the game could have done to fix this problem but it is still annoying. Add in the fact that the blocking players really don’t do much of anything on the turn, and the game is pretty slow at times.
In addition to boring gameplay, the components are somewhat lacking. The gameboard, goals, blockers and the bucks are made of pretty thick plastic which is fine. They will get pretty heavily scratched though from extended play. The problem comes with the buck passer. The buck passer is made of pretty thick plastic but it is not thick enough for the game. The buck passer that came with my copy was already snapped in half when I bought it and it was glued back together. The passer might have been broken in half due to the players being too rough with it but based on my experience playing the game I think it could snap pretty easily just with normal gameplay.
The worst part of the components has to be the timer. Buckshot has to have the worst timer I have ever seen. For some weird reason the game decided that it wanted to try something new when it came to the timer instead of just using a normal sand timer. They decided to make a timer that uses a disc that has magnets on it. The magnet makes the disc twirl down a pole. Or at least that is what it is supposed to do since based on my experience playing the game it rarely worked properly. The timer usually stopped about half way down the pole. This was a design problem and not a problem with the components themselves.
In addition to not really working, I think the timer shouldn’t have even been in the game in the first place. I think the game should have been a true four player game with all four players shooting at the same time. How the game is structured, essentially the players who are not the shooter sit around waiting for their turn to shoot. Defending your goal is pretty boring since the buck is usually moving so slowly that you can easily block it. I think the game should have made the gameboard a little larger and gave all of the players a buck passer. Players would have then been able to shoot anytime the buck passed into their area of the gameboard, making the game a lit more interactive.
Buckshot tried to create a four player version of air hockey. The game had potential but it ultimately fails. The problem is that due to friction on the gameboard you essentially have to just randomly shoot the buck as quickly as possible. Doing so pretty much ruins your aim though. Maybe younger children would like the game but I got bored of it quickly.
Unless you are buying the game for young children that would like a game like this, I would recommend avoiding the game.