Alternative Games - Different Ways to Enjoy Petanque


Petanque Coach



The Melieu Game

This game is called Pointers and Shooters in England. It rewards players that are good all around players, having skills in both pointing and shooting. Milieu players are the middle player in triplettes teams - the ones that are expected to be excellent pointers as well as servicable shooters. In this game you will need to be able to point, but one third of the time you will be using your boules only for shooting.

The Game

The Milieu Game is played with three players. Two of the players in each end will be pointers and one player will be a shooter. Toss a coin or throw boules at a jack to see who starts as the first pointer, then second pointer, then who will be the shooter.

The pointers use three boules and will score points against each other in the normal way - boules closer to the jack than the opponent's score a point. The difference comes in the use of the shooter! Twice when it is their turn each pointer must designate a target, either boule or jack, for the shooter to shoot at. So the shooter will be throwing two boules for each pointer for a total of four boules each end. The shooters boules are picked up as soon as they stop moving and are removed from the piste. The shooter scores a point each time their thrown boule hits the designated target - so there is a chance with excellent shooting for the shooter to score four points on an end. The pointers must use their boules to point unless the shooter has thrown both of their boules, then the pointer may use their remaining boules to shoot as well.

When each end is completed, the winning pointer becomes the lead pointer for the next end, and the losing pointer becomes the shooter. The shooter becomes the second pointer for the next end.


The pointer players score in the normal way. The shooter gets 1 point for each target hit, whether the thrown boule moves the target or not. So the maximum that a pointer can gain on an end is 3 points, while the shooter may score 4 points for an end. The game is played to 13 points, unless two players have 12 points. Should more than one player have 12 points at the same time, the game continues until one player has a 2 point lead. If only two of the three players has 12 points, the remaining player continues to play but does not acquire further points. If the jack is knocked dead, normal dead end rules apply. However, if the shooter was asked to shoot the jack he scores a point for the hit.


Since the shooter has a chance for 4 points an end, an excellent shooter might be considered to have an advantage! The shrewd pointer might wish to direct the shooter to a very difficult target rather than their opposing pointer's boule.



Alternate Universe Game

There are times when you and your teammates can not find another team to practice with - maybe no one nearby wants to play against a team of your caliber! So how is a team to get ready for the big Select tournament coming up in a month or two?

One way is to play against yourselves! Treat each team separately - your team from an alternate universe playing against you! This gives you double the throws and so makes the most of limited practice time. It also gives you ends that you can study and strategize about. And it ensures an opposing team that is at least as good as yours!

Alternate Universe Games are excellent opportunities to try different team configurations - player A as pointer on one team and the shooter on the other. And to try out different boule sets - the Turtles for one team and the ATX's for the other.

For this to be most effective everyone should really treat the games seriously trying your best to beat yourselves! Make sure that you know which boules go with which team - I tend to use my usual competition boules for one team and a set that I am experimenting with for the alternate team.

Of course as with every game of petanque there will be winners and losers. The bad news is... you will always lose... the good news is... YOU WILL ALWAYS WIN TOO!


Jeu Provencal

Jeu Provencal is the more athletic game from which petanque was derived. The rules are very similar to petanque except that the distances are longer, and the throws are more active to accomodate those distances. Since the same boules are used in both games, it might be fun to try playing Jeu Provencal some time when you and your friends are feeling especially energetic!

For more information on Jeu Provencal click here.


100+ Tournament!

This tournament format was passed on to me from a tournament that took place in Germany. Here is what my informant had to say, "The interesting thing about this is that the ages of the people for the doublette teams need to be at least 100 years when added together. That is the 100+ in the name of the tournament. So, that would ensure that it's not just a young person playing with another young person, etc.
It's a select doublette. It really seems like the Germans prefer select
tournaments to other formats.
The format is Pools followed by the A and B knockout. How I've
seen it work for other tournaments is that the pools will be groups
of 4, so each team will play 3 games in the pool. The top 2 teams in
the pool will then play in A and the bottom 2 teams in the pool will
play in B. And it's knockout after that. That format ensures that
every team plays at least 4 games.
Also, typical of German tournaments is the low entrance fees. It comes
out to 5 euros per person. That's under $10 US even with the poor exchange rate."

It might be even more interesting with a 100+ Triplettes Tournament! We would all be out scouting for kids to recruit to our teams! And that would not be a bad thing!


Squeezing More Games into Not Much Time

OK, some of this might seem obvious, but some of it didn't occur to me until I read it somewhere else... but these modifications from the rules can allow tournaments or casual panache tournaments to take place in an evening without going over-late. Or could be used during the qualifying rounds before lunch and then the normal rules apply for the finals rounds after lunch.

A couple of ways that you can squeeze more games into a limited amount of time is to limit the number of ends, and to limit the time that individual games can be played.

To limit the ends, you could play for say 4, 6 or even 13 ends. Any games not completed in the designated number of ends are considered completed and the final score and winning team is declared. Tied games continue until a team has at least two point lead. The tactics might be slightly different in a limited end game - not many ends for that 0-12 comeback! And doing well right from the start will make a big difference on a team's success. So you will want to practice between games to be up to speed!

Time could be limited to 30 minutes, or 45 minutes, with a 15 minute break between games. Organizers would indicate when time is up with the announcement of "This is your last end!". When that end is finished the game is done. Ties would play one more end to decide the winner.

Both of these modifications would keep the tournament on track - and avoid those disruptive 2 plus hour games that show up every other tournament or so.

Petanque Secret Portal!

Points In Front

If you want to improve your pointing skills, you could agree to play with modified rules Points in Front. In this game, you play a normal petanque game in everyway except, that only points that are in front of the jack count! Most of us know that in normal play a boule in front of the jack is positioned much better than one in back. Those in front can block the opponent, and can get bumped forward into an even better positions, while those behind the jack can serve as backstops for the opposing boules while bumping yours further away. So any practice that helps one keep their boules in front is a good thing to do! This game is designed to really reward the pointer for boules kept in front! And I suppose that the tactic of bumping them past the jack will be reenforced as well - so boule bumping practice will take place too!

The Carreau Game

Here is a game to practice carreaus. You start at 2 meters from the target boule. After you get a carreau at that distance then you go to 3 m, then 4 m, then 5 m, and finally 6 m. The first person/team to get a carreau at 6 meters [after carreauing at the other distances] wins.

Another variation of this game is similar to regular petanque [tete-a-tete] except the first thrown boule for each person is a pointing throw and the rest have to be tirs, and the bouchon is closer than normal. The scoring would be as in normal petanque. That is a good game for practicing tirs and throwing carreaus.


Berliner 7 Player Game

7 plaers is a really awkward number to form teams with. In Germany when there are 7 players they play 4 against 3 players with 8 boules used per team. In the team with 4 players, each has 2 boules, while the other team (the triplette) has 2 players with 3 and one with 2 boules.
In general, this is only used in casual play. This is format is called a Berliner in Germany.

One of Everything

I developed this game to force myself to become more comfortable playing different throws. I don't always require that my opponent play by the same rules that I am playing by, which can make it even more challenging! The rules modification is simple enough, all normal rules are in effect except that you must throw one semi-lob, one high lob and one shooting throw each end. You may use the throws in whatever order you wish, but each throw must be a different technique chosen from those three.

I actually really enjoy playing this game variant! One has to decide in which order to use the throws, and there are times you sure wish that you could use a different throw but you have already used up that option... so you might surprise yourself by using the shooting throw or high lob in a very creative way! High lob to bump (a sort of shooting throw!), shooting throw to carreau (a sort of pointing throw!). Another benefit of playing this game is that it helps you to become a much more versitile player. After you have played One of Everything a few times, you will find yourself thinking beyond your regular throwing style in normal play. And you will be able to switch from a squatting semi-lob to an effective standing high lob, or shooting throw without the confusion and adjustment problems that many people experience.