What is Kubb?
Kubb is a lawn game with origins in Sweden (supposedly) also known as the wooden block yard game. In Kubb, small wooden blocks are stood up at the end of the field. The idea is to knock over the blocks, and ultimately the ‘king’ before your opponent does. It is an incredibly simple game, and most people should be able to pick up the rules in just a few minutes.
Head to any party in Sweden and, sooner or later, somebody is going to want to pull out a Kubb set. Despite the game having somewhat of a reputation as a party game in the Scandinavian country, this is a game with supposedly ancient roots. Truth be told, nobody really knows where Kubb originated from. However, as with many things in Sweden, people do try and tie it into the Viking era.
When Was Kubb Created?
Ask Swedes, and they will tell you that Kubb has its roots in ancient Viking culture. Truth be told, there is absolutely no evidence of this. While it is a nice story, not one ancient Kubb set has ever been discovered. In fact, the game has much more modern roots. Rather than being a game enjoyed by the Vikings in between all their pillaging and taking over Northern Europe, the game started sometime in the 1980s. It may have started ever so slightly before this, but it was in the 1980s that Swedes (and eventually the rest of the world) really started to pay attention to Kubb.
It is likely that a variation of Kubb started to be played sometime in the early 1900s, with the word ‘Kubb’ first being used in the 1930s. However, it wasn’t really played beyond a very small part of Sweden.
We do know that the game didn’t exist before this point as there are no historical records.
Who Created Kubb?
Kubb seems to be one of those games that don’t really have an official creator.
We do know that Kubb got started on the island of Gotland, just off the coast of mainland Sweden.
Because Kubb plays very similarly to the game of skittles (which originates in Ancient Egypt!), it is likely that a few people decided to vary the rules of skittles a little bit. The rules then started to spread before somebody decided to make the game a bit more commercial. Up until the 1980s, chances are that very few people had heard of it outside of Gotland.
So, who created Kubb? Probably just a few kids and adults on Gotland trying to spruce up the game of skittles a little bit. We can assure you that no Viking ever went close to coming up with the rules of Kubb.
How Do You Play Wooden Block Yard Game – Kubb?
The rules of Kubb do seem rather complicated until you actually start playing the game. So, while we are going to give you the rules here, do bear in mind that the game plays much simpler in practice. This is a game often played by drunken Swedes, and if they can understand it, you certainly can!
The rules of Kubb can vary ever so slightly based upon who you ask. We are going to walk you through the most common rules. However, do bear in mind that you may encounter people that play the game ever so slightly differently. The main variation will be the number of sticks thrown during the first few turns.
Setting Up The Field Of Play
If you skip ahead a few sections, then we will tell you the main field sizes. However, in reality, you can set the Kubb field up however you want. It doesn’t really matter. If you want the field to be slightly smaller because you have children playing, then by all means do that.
Whatever your field size, you will need to mark it out. You will have some marking pins with your Kubb set. Set them up as follows:
- 1 pin on each corner of the field
- One on each side of the middle of the field.
On each end of the Kubb field, you have the baseline. You will stand 5 Kubb (the wooden blocks) up on each end.
In the dead center of the field, you will put the King Kubb (it will normally have a little crown on it!)
The First Throws
To begin with, one side will throw 4 of their batons. (sometimes they start with 2). On each subsequent turn, this will be six batons for each team.
The aim of these initial throws is to knock over the Kubbs on the other team’s baseline. You cannot hit the King Kubb. This is an instant loss (more on winning the game soon)
The baton must always be thrown underarm. The baton can spin vertically, but it cannot spin horizontally (like a helicopter)
Knocking Down Kubbs
As we said, the aim is to knock down the opponent’s Kubbs. You can hit as many Kubbs with one throw as you want. Some people require you to knock over all of the Kubbs on the opposing baseline in one turn. This is not necessary.
When all of the batons have been thrown, the play passes to the opponent.
Placing Field Kubbs
Before the opponent throws their batons, they need to pick up any Kubbs that were knocked over on the previous turn. These will then be thrown into the opponent’s half of the field.
Any Kubbs that land in the opponent’s half of the field (without going out of bounds) will be stood up.
Any Kubbs that went out of bounds will be thrown again. If they go out of bounds on the second throw, the opponent is allowed to place them wherever they want (on the legal field)
Once the field Kubbs have been thrown, the team can then throw their batons to try and knock down the Kubbs sitting on their opponent’s baseline.
Winning The Game
This process continues until all of the Kubbs on the baseline have been knocked down and become field Kubbs. At times, there may be both field Kubbs and baseline Kubbs. The team must knock over the field Kubbs before they start tackling the baseline Kubbs again. If a baseline Kubb is knocked over before all of the field Klubbs, then that baseline Klubb is placed upright again. It is basically a wasted baton throw.
Once a team has knocked down their opponent’s baseline Kubbs, they will need to start knocking down the field Kubbs. Ideally, all field Kubbs will need to be knocked down in a single turn. If field Kubbs are left standing, then the opponent will be allowed to treat that as their new baseline when knocking down field Kubbs (but never when throwing the baton at the King)
The game is over when a team has successfully accomplished the following:
- Knocked over their opponent’s baseline Kubbs
- Knocked over their opponent’s field Kubbs
- Knocked over the King
If the King is knocked over before the first 2 have been accomplished, then the team loses.
How Do You Score In Kubb?
There isn’t really a score in Kubb. You don’t get points for knocking over the Kubbs. It is more of a race to knock over that King.
Some Kubb competitions will have games where there are multiple rounds of Kubb. In that case, knocking over the King first will result in 1 point.
What Are The Rules Of Kubb?
There are no rules about who plays first in Kubb. It is normally agreed between the two teams.
You win Kubb in one of the following ways:
- Knock over all of your opponent’s Kubbs and then knock over the King.
- Your opponent knocks over the King before they have knocked over all your Kubbs.
How Many People Can Play Kubb?
However many you want.
Team sizes can range from 1/2 all the way up to 8 per side. There aren’t really that many rules. The teams don’t even need to be evenly matched, so it is fine to have one or two extra players on one team.
What Is The Size Of a Kubb Field?
As we said before, there isn’t really a field size for Kubb. This is a game that is very much pick up and play. As long as the two baselines are not too close together, then you can have it pretty much any size that you want.
In competition play, the Kubb field size will likely be one of the following:
- 33-feet x 26-feet
- 26-feet x 16-feet
As long as the field is longer than it is wide, then you should be fine.
Can You Play Kubb Indoors?
While the game is traditionally played on grass surfaces, there is no reason why you couldn’t play it indoors. You just need to have a large enough space to set your Kubb field up.
Can You Play Kubb On The Beach?
As long as you can get the wooden blocks standing up, then there is no reason why the game can’t be played on the beach. This is a game that can pretty much be played anywhere that you have a flat surface. If you head to Sweden, you may even find some Kubb games happening on the ice!
What Is The Average Price Of a Kubb Set?
Kubb isn’t really an expensive game to play. It is just wooden blocks, after all. You can expect a decent Kubb set to cost somewhere between $50-$60. There are cheaper options available too.
Are There Kubb Tournaments?
The US National Kubb Championship is the closest you will get to an official tournament in the US: http://www.usakubb.org/championship-info.php
In Europe, the European Kubb Championships reign supreme: https://kubbeurope.com/
Is There An Official Kubb Website?
There isn’t an official Kubb website. The closest you will get will be for the World Kubb Championship held on Gotland. Since this is where the sport originated, it is the closest that you will get to an official Kubb source: https://www.kubbvm.com/en/
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