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What is Kubb?

Kubb is a lawn game that involves two teams throwing wooden batons at other wooden targets. The exact origins of the game of kubb are unknown, although it is believed to have origins as an ancient Viking chess game in popular culture. Its modern roots trace to Gotland, Sweden, which host the annual World Championship.

Kubb King piece standing upright within a field of grass.

How to Play Kubb

Kubb is easy to play for players of all ages and abilities once you’ve learned the basic rules and gameplay concepts. Kubb games or matches can be played on any even surface such as a lawn, park, or even the beach.

To start off, players should be evenly divided between two teams. It helps to have an even number of players such as 8 or 16 total players.

A kubb pitch should be setup by placing the King piece in the center of the pitch. Each team’s five kubb pieces will be evenly spaced out and placed along their respective baseline.

The general concept of the game is for each team to toss batons or sticks at the opposing team’s kubb blocks. If a kubb block is knocked down by a player, the opposing team must toss the kubb block to the other side of the pitch, resulting in an additional target that they must then knock down.

In order to win a game of kubb, a team must knock down all of its kubb blocks and then also knock down the final King piece in the center of the pitch.

Kubb Gear and Equipment

No special equipment is required to play a game of kubb except for a standard kubb set, which consists of 23 pieces. Kubb game pieces are almost entirely made out of hardwood such as maple.

Batons (6)

Batons, sometimes referred to as sticks, are cylindrical dowel-shaped pieces that are tossed by players to knock over other game pieces including the opponent’s kubb blocks and the King. The diameter of the batons should be 4.4 centimeters and the length should be 30 centimeters.

Kubb Blocks (10)

Kubb blocks (sometimes referred to simply as kubbs), are pieces that are evenly divided between teams to start the game. The objective of the game is to knock down the other team’s kubbs using the batons before attempting to win the game by knocking down the King piece.

The standard dimensions of kubb blocks are 7x7x15 centimeters.

King (1)

The King piece is the ultimate game piece which must be knocked down to win a game of kubb. Its dimensions are 9x9x30 centimeters, and it should be placed in the middle of the kubb pitch.

Corner Stakes (4)

The four corner stakes are not used in gameplay but mark the boundaries of the playing field in a game of kubb.

Official Rules of Kubb

  1. To start the game, players on each team will stand behind their respective baseline. To decide which team will start first, each team will throw one baton at the King. The team that comes closest without knocking down the King can elect to start first.
  2. Batons must be tossed underhand from behind the baseline at all points in the game. Players are not allowed to “helicopter” or “propel” batons by tossing the batons so that they rotate horizontally.
  3. The starting team (Team A) will evenly decide their batons between their players and then begin the game by tossing each baton at the opposing team’s (Team B) base kubb pieces.
  4. If any kubb block(s) are knocked down, then the opposing team (Team B) will toss the block(s) over to the other side of the pitch, where they become known as field kubbs. Teams must also throw kubb blocks underhand or side-armed across the center-line and they must land in-bounds of play, or a re-throw is required.
  5. Team B is then allowed to begin tossing their batons. However, they must knock down all of the field kubbs on the other side of the pitch before they can begin tossing at the base kubbs, if any field kubbs remain on the other end of the pitch.
  6. At the end of Team B’s turn, if they failed to knock down one or more field kubbs, then Team A gains what is known as an “advantage line”. This imaginary line means they can walk up and throw batons from the field kubb that is furthest away from their own baseline, giving them an advantage of shorter distance to toss at their own field kubb(s) and/or base kubb(s).
  7. The game continues with team’s alternating turns by attempting to knock down their respective field kubb(s) and base kubb(s) and “trading” field kubb(s) back and forth. This continues until one team finally knocks down all of its base kubbs on the other end of the pitch.
  8. If a team does manage to knock down all remaining base kubbs, players must return to their own baseline and can aim at the King piece using their remaining batons. They are declared victorious if they knock down the King piece with any baton and the game ends.
  9. If a team is throwing at the King piece but misses with all of their batons, the game resumes with the opposing team still required to knock down all of their remaining field kubbs and base kubbs and alternating turns until either team manages to win the game by knocking down the King piece.

Note: there are also variants of kubb such as speed kubb that are intended to accelerate the pace of play during a game.

Resources

Kubb World Championship

U.S. National Kubb Championship

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