So you’ve spent the necessary time and money on tricking out your game room, finding the best bubble hockey table to serve as the ground for epic battles with your friends.
Pat yourself on the back, crack open a beer and roll up your sleeves. Now the real work begins. It’s time to perfect your bubble hockey strategy, my friend.
If you don’t have one yet…check out our Best Bubble Hockey Table Buying Guide. It’s a big investment and you want to make sure you get the right one for your game room.
With any sport, (yes, I am calling bubble hockey a sport!) you get better the more you play. It takes physical dexterity and muscle memory to rip shots off and crush the competition. Quickness and anticipation are the keys to winning a bubble hockey game.
But there’s one part of your game that can’t be honed in the fires of rigorous play alone. That part of your game is called strategy. Whether you’re playing on a higher-end table at the arcade or a more affordable home version, these basic bubble hockey strategies will build your game and keep you dusting the competition faster than you can shout “Gooooaaaal!”
Bubble Hockey Game Play
It’s a simple concept, really. But just in case there any newbies reading this, to win a game of bubble hockey, you just need to put the puck in your opponent’s goal more times than they put the puck in yours.
Simple isn’t easy, though. It all starts once the puck is dropped into the red dot in the center of the table. For players weak on strategy, that’s when heartbreak ensues.
In any sport, novice players typically over-exert themselves at the beginning of the game. It’s not their fault, they just don’t have the stickiest grasp of the fundamentals and so they focus their energy in the wrong places.
What does this look like in bubble hockey? It looks like a hot mess. It looks like losing the face-off, it looks like spinning your wheels, or in this case, your rods needlessly. It looks like not understanding how to defend properly. These are all the strategic fundamentals new players usually get wrong or fail to perfect before they step into the arena.
You’re not one of those guys, though, are you? I didn’t think so. Guys like you eat guys like them as an after-breakfast mint. What you are is a battle-ready gladiator, hungry for a plate of bubble hockey greatness.
So let’s go over the rules of the game before we get to the kill moves, Champ.
Bubble Hockey Tournament Rules
Rules. I know, they’re a drag, but you can’t have a fair and balanced game without them. Keep in mind that bubble hockey rules tend to change depending on the region you’re from and the type of table you have.
Seasoned bubble hockey warriors know how to exploit these differences to their fullest strategic advantage, but that’s another post. These 10 rules of engagement below should be pretty much ubiquitous wherever bubble hockey is played, no matter the table type:
1. Period: Most tables are equipped with a timer that counts out three 90 second intervals to produce a full game of play.
2. Coin Flip: This is how we decide which side of the table a team stands on. There’s nothing more honorable than the flip of a coin.
3. Face-Off: A puck drops down the center of the table to start each game of play.
4. Players: Any single player can’t control more than 3 hockey men, including the goalie, at one time.
5. Tilting: No player is allowed to tilt, lift or in any way move the hockey table during play. This is a punishable offense. Seriously, the FBI will get involved. Don’t do it.
6. Stalling: 90-second intervals make for a tight time frame. For that reason, no player is allowed to hold the puck or do anything that will delay play. If you’re suspected of this, the scorekeeper (who may or may not be a human lie detector employed by the CIA) will announce a 5-second countdown.
If 5 seconds pass, but the same hockey man still has possession of the puck, you will receive one goal penalty. Your hockey man, however, will receive a first class ticket to Guantanamo Bay. Those are the rules.
7. Stuck Puck: If a puck can’t be reached by either team, it’s time for a time out. The players then need to tilt the table towards the team who has a rightful claim to the puck of Westeros…uh, sorry wrong game.
This usually occurs when a puck falls into what’s called a dead zone and becomes unreachable by either team. We live in a world of drones, holograms, and even ride-sharing for private jets, yet we have no cure for the stuck puck. Go figure.
8. Spinning/Distracting Players: The simple answer: you can’t. Hockey men are not allowed to be moved or spun rapidly to distract others or move the table. This can result in disqualification. If you want to knock someone off their game, talk trash like a decent human being!
9. Goals: This part you should remember. This rule has preemptively killed many a heated game argument: goals do not count unless they fall down the chute and the machine registers it as a goal. Anything short of that is nothing to write home about.
10. Tournament Play Scoring: If one team leads by 2 goals at the end of a regulation match, that team has won the game. If not, then the game continues until one team is up by 2. Only in non-tournament play can a team win by 1 goal.
Okay, now that you’re caught up on the rules. Let’s get to the game-winning, soul-stomping strategies that will send your competitors home crying for their wives and mothers.
Effective Bubble Hockey Strategy
Take Quick Shots
This strategy is almost cruel. I mean it, man. It would literally be harder to take candy from a baby.
But here it is.
The next time you play an amateur, the easiest way to rip through them is to take smart, but rapid shots.
The problem with amateurs is that they haven’t mastered the fundamentals, especially as it pertains to defending their goal. They fumble and telegraph the switch from their offensive bars to the goalie rod, which means you can easily score 40% more if you’re a good shot from down the ice.
You didn’t get that bit of torturous advice from me, though. I’ve got a reputation to protect.
Don’t Spin The Rods
First of all, it’s a penalty if you do this for more than one second. That alone makes it a bad idea, but there are other reasons you’ll want to stay away from this practice.
Spinning the rods limits your ability to make a calculated shot. It’s much more difficult to catch a puck in play when your hockey man is doing somersaults and whatnot.
Then there’s the control issue. Spinning also gives you less control over your men and will tank your accuracy rate, believe me.
Spinning looks fancy, but it can backfire on you. Just wait until you score the game-winning goal on yourself at the end of a tournament. Talk about having a soul-crushing, self-defeatist attitude.
I’m not going to lie to you, man. Spinning looks really impressive if you can time it correctly and manage not to violate the official rules, but you know what else is really impressive?
Win The Face-Off
It’s a lot like the first tip-off in basketball. The best advantage is at the start of the game. This is your one opportunity to lock out your opponent from the start and open a gap they can’t close. Take full advantage of it. Sure, you won’t win them all, but try.
Bubble Hockey Defense
The best thing you can do here is to adjust your goalie according to the puck. You always want your goalie following the puck just in case you need to block a shot quickly. Having your goalie out of position is always going to prove detrimental for you.
Find small pauses during play to switch the position of your goalie and align it with the direction your opponent will shoot from.
Putting It All Together
You have completed a journey few ever attempt. You now breathe an air the meek of heart will never taste. The air of a trained bubble hockey warrior. You’re finally ready to enter the arena and win your bubble hockey glory.
Are there any bubble hockey strategies that have served you well over the years? Did you see them listed here? Let us know in the comment section below.