Bocce Drift

From Ludocity
Bocce Drift
Designer: David Jimison and Jeff Crouse
Year: 2007
Players: 2 to 4
Stuff required: A set of bocce (boules/petanque) balls.
Crew required: None
Preparation: None
Time required: Around 40 minutes.
Place required: Parks, alleys, and mixed environments are preferable.
Activities: Throwing, exploring, two-player.
This is a playable game - it's finished, tested and ready to play.
This game is made available under an Attribution-Noncommercial Creative Commons licence. (What does this mean?)

Bocce Drift is a mixture of the traditional game of bocce with the Situationist’s Derive. As in Bocce, players take turns throwing their own bocce balls as close as possible to the smaller jack. However, the winner of each round may throw the jack anywhere, even from a new part of the city, thus having the game become a ludic wandering.

Having thrown the jack, the player then throws the first of their two bocce balls. During this process, they can specify that all other players must mimic their own style. For instance, if they do a twirl or a somersault while throwing, so must all other player. This can even be extended to more complex actions, such as sitting at a café having a drink, or asking a stranger for directions. Any object in the city can be used to assist in placing the bocce ball close to the jack, provided no damage is done. Losing a ball is a permanent loss to the player, losing the jack is the immediate loss of the game.

After all balls have been thrown, two points are awarded to the player with the ball closest the jack. The ball second closest to the jack earns one point. Additionally, the players can collectively award a point to a player for style and finesse, given that the player committed an awesome performance during their play. The game is played for as many rounds as it takes to reach twelve points.

Starting the Game

  • Each player is given two bocce balls of matching stripe and color.
  • The senior player is selected to begin the match, and is given the jack. If no player is senior, it goes by age. If there is a dispute, it is settled with a single coin toss. If there is a dispute regarding the coin toss or who shall be given the jack, the game is adjourned until later. After all, Bocce Drift, is above everything a civilized pursuit.
  • The first player with the jack establishes a box in which all players must throw their balls from. The box can range in size, dependent upon the initial decision, but does not change for the rest of the round.

Playing the Game

  • The first player then throws the jack any place that they wish. This can be as far as they can throw, or between their feet, or in a branch of a tree.
  • The first player then throws their first ball. If they wish, they can specify any action to perform while throwing the ball, which all other players must engage in. However, the first player must themselves perform the action flawlessly, and specify that they wish the others to mimic themselves prior to committing the action.
  • Each player takes a turn throwing their balls in order of current points, seniority in the game, and finally age. Be aware, that it is to your benefit to go last.
  • Players may throw their ball to any place in the game, and a common strategy is to knock the other players’ balls out of place.


  • 2 points is awarded the player with their ball closest to the jack
  • 1 point is awarded to the player with their ball second closest to the jack
  • 1 point may optionally be awarded to a player of high style and performativity. Please note that it behooves players to award these points sparingly, thus ensuring that other players work hard at earning their style points
  • “Winning Life” An optional variant of the game, is when all players elect to set a “You Win Life” prize in a particular round. This prize is only awarded for performing a near impossible feat, and must be stated prior to any players turn, and agreed upon by all. An example of such a feat would be rolling ones ball up a tree and resting on a branch directly above the jack. The Winner of Life automatically wins the game, a free drink of choice purchased by the other players, and lifetime recognition.

Losing Game Pieces

  • Players should be very cautious with their balls and jack. Players may perform any feat in order to retrieve their ball. However, there are times when it is stolen, or goes down a drain, when it is simply lost.
  • Losing a ball is a permanent loss, and such a player must play the rest of the game without it.
  • Losing the jack is near opposite to “winning life.” The game is immediately forfeit, with the person who lost the jack being declared absolute loser of the game, and all others being winners. The loser of the jack must additionally purchase all other players a drink, and endure their humiliating criticism while the consume said drink.

Winning the Game

  • The first player to twelve points is the winner
  • In the event of a tie, each player has a match in which they throw the jack, with whomever wins the most points, winning the game. Those in a tie may also choose to be both winners, and this is the preferred resolution.
  • In a tournament game, the winner of the game earns a single point to being the overall winner. Those who remain tied in a game, split the point evenly.


Flickr photos

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(These are the ten most recent Flickr photos of Bocce Drift. To add your own, just add the "ludocity:game=boccedrift" tag to your Flickr photos.)

Play history

Bocce Drift was featured at Come Out and Play 2007, and at BARG's wideopenspace.