Kubb is a traditional outdoor Swedish game that originated over 1000 years ago in the island of Gotland, where the kubb world championships are still held. Legend has it that Vikings used to play it to while away the time during the long light evenings in the summer months. Often dubbed “Viking chess” due to the ultimate goal of taking down the king, kubb is a great game for families, friends, and people of all ages. This lawn game is perfect for garden parties, summer holidays, and even daytime wedding receptions! Kubb rules are simple enough to learn quickly but complex enough to keep everyone entertained for hours. The official rules used for the National Kubb Championship are pretty complex, but you don’t need to follow them all for informal play.
The baseline kubb aim is to knock over the kubb king, which is positioned in the middle of the field. However, you can only do so once you have knocked over all of your opponent’s lined up kubbs with your throwing batons.
Ending The Game
- If your team knocks over the king before felling all the kubbs first, you lose the game instantly!
- If you successfully knock over the king after toppling all the opposing team’s kubbs, your team wins the game
- Either way, the game ends when the king is knocked over
In the official U.S. National Kubb Championship rules, the field is measured at 8m x 5m (8.7 x 5.5 yards). However, when playing for fun, you can designate your own dimensions to suit players’ ability levels and the available space. You might start with a field of 6m x 3m (6.6 x 3.3 yards) and go bigger once you get the hang of it.
If you are playing with younger players, a smaller field of 5m x 2m (5.5 x 2.2 yards) is probably best.
How Many People Play Kubb
Kubb is typically played with one or two players per team, but this is not a rule. In fact, you can play with anywhere from 1-6 players on a team. And if you have an uneven number of people who want to play, no problem! You can have more people in one team than another if necessary.
The Rules Of Kubb
- Set up your kubb game by placing four corner stakes at the agreed-upon dimensions to create a rectangular pitch. The narrow sides of the rectangle are known as the baselines, and the ten kubbs are lined up there. These are called “baseline kubbs”. Finally, the king goes at the center of an imaginary “middle line”.
- Let’s say you are in Team B, and some of your baseline kubbs are knocked over by Team A during their first turn. You must then pick these up and throw them from your baseline onto your opponents half of the court. They are now called “field kubbs” and belong to your opponent. If a thrown kubb falls outside of your opponent’s side of the field, you have one more chance to throw. If this Team B throw also fails, your opponent may place this field kubb anywhere they like, provided it is at least one baton length from the king.
- Your opponent then raises the newly thrown kubbs to a standing position.
- If there are any standing field kubbs on your opponent’s half of the pitch, you must topple these before attacking their baseline kubbs.
If a baseline kubb is knocked over before all the field kubbs, it is simply set upright again.
5. If you do not manage to knock down all your opponent’s field kubbs in your turn, the standing field kubb closest to your side of the court marks your opponent’s “throwing line”. This means that on their next turn, they can throw from that distance.
6. As each team has 6 batons, one turn consists of 6 throws. When the first team has thrown all 6 of its batons, the turn passes to the other team, and play continues.
7. If a thrower successfully topples all the kubbs belonging to the opposing team, they may go for the king.
Note: kubbs may only be thrown underarm, and vertically – i.e. ‘helicopter’ throws are not allowed!
Frequently Asked Questions
You play kubb by throwing batons across a field to knock over your opponent’s kubbs. If you have successfully knocked over all the opposing team’s kubbs (both the field and baseline kubbs), you may attempt to topple the king. Successfully doing so means you have won the game! However, there are a number of complications that make it more challenging, which we explain above.
Anywhere from 2-12 players can play kubb in one game! This is because you can play one-on-one, or with up to 6 players on a team. You can even have a different number of players per team if you like. This is part of what makes kubb such a versatile game and great for so many different occasions.
You win kubb by knocking over the king. However, you can only knock it over after you have toppled all of your opponents baseline kubbs and field kubbs. If you topple it prematurely, you automatically lose the game! As you can see, skill, strategy and a tiny bit of luck all go into this highly enjoyable lawn game.
To determine who goes first in kubb, one player from each team should throw a baton as close to the king as possible without hitting it. The team whose baton lands closest to the king goes first. If you accidentally hit the king on this throw, the opposing team goes first.
So now you know the official kubb rules – it’s time to get playing! The fantastic thing about this outdoor game is its versatility – you can play it whether it is just you and one other friend, or a large group. This also means that players with widely differing abilities can play together smoothly. And while the best playing surfaces are grass or sand, you can play on anything from concrete to even snow in winter!