Looking for an outdoor game that all the family can enjoy? Kubb could be the perfect game for you. Quick-paced and super-easy to learn, Kubb can also be a game of strategy and skill.
One of the great benefits of Kubb is that it is a game to be played outside, and much like Cornhole, you can play Kubb in teams or tournaments. Suitable for children, teens, and adults, the Kubbs rules are easy to learn and is a great game for all ages, ability levels, and skill sets.
This game has a 1000-year history and was a favorite of the Vikings, so read on to find out how to play Kubb and whether this game is for you!
What is Kubb?
Kubb is a Nordic lawn game. It can also be referred to as Viking Chess. Kubb involves players throwing a wooden baton to try and knock over opponents’ blocks, eventually taking conquest over the King Kubb.
The rules are super simple, and children aged 3 and upwards can compete in this battle game. The game is traditionally played on a 16 x 26 feet (5 x 8m) pitch, which can be grass, sand, astroturf, gravel, or even snow.
Between 2 and 12 people can play Kubb, and with the object being to knock over the wooden blocks on the pitch by throwing wooden batons at them, it can be roughly described as a combination of Bocce (see Bocce ball rules) and bowling.
Number of Players: 2 to 12 players in 2 teams.
Ages: Recommended 3-Years and Over
Length of Play: 5 – 60 Minutes
Main Objective: To topple all the kubbs on the opponent’s half of the pitch, then topple the King from behind the Baseline.
Why We Love it: The whole family can play together, embrace the great outdoors and have fun. It’s a super-easy game to learn with every age group able to enjoy Kubb.
A Brief History of Kubb
Kubb is thought to have originated more than 1,000 years ago. It is considered an ancient Scandinavian game played by the Vikings during the long, light evenings of the Summer months.
Although Kubb was more than likely a drinking game, it doesn’t have to be so in modern times. However, it can still be considered a big group game, as up to 12 people can play at a time – in teams.
In its modern conception, Kubb gained popularity in the 1980s, when the first commercial Kubb sets were made.
The U.S. National Kubb Championship started in 2007. The game is now played in tournaments throughout the U.S. and Europe, with 50 tournaments being played in Belgium in 2012.
Playing Kubb – What You’ll Need.
You can buy a complete Kubb set online; they range in price and quality but will generally contain:
- 1 King
- 10 Kubbs
- 6 Batons
- 4 Corner Markers
How to Play Kubb
The objective of Kubb is to knock over the King, but you can only attempt to do this once you have knocked down all of your opponents Kubbs. If you knock the King over before all of the
other teams, then your team wins.
Setting Up the Game
It is recommended to use an area with dimensions of 16 x 26 feet (5 x 8m), but an area of 13 x 20 feet (4 x 6m) is acceptable when space is more limited – or for an easier game. The 4 corner markers mark the 4 corners and indicate the edges of the area – or arena, as it can be called.
Next, it is time to divide the players into teams, if not playing as individuals. In Kubb, teams don’t have to have the same number of players, making this an excellent choice for a BBQ party game.
A player from each team will throw a baton from behind one Baseline, and the team whose player’s baton gets the closest to the King will become Team A and begin the game.
Team A is to throw their 6 batons at Team B’s Kubbs to try and knock them down; remember that if the King is knocked down before all of the Kubbs, then Team A will lose the game. Once Team A has thrown their batons, it is Team B’s turn to play.
Team B must begin by standing behind their Baseline, at the other end of the area/arena. They must throw any Kubbs into Team A’s area that have previously been knocked down. Team A is to stand these Kubbs up where they’ve landed.
If any Kubbs have landed outside of the area, they can be re-thrown by Team B. If, when thrown again, they still don’t land in the right place, then Team A can choose where to place them in their half, providing it is a minimum of 1 baton length away from the King.
These kubbs will now be called Field Kubbs.
Team B must now throw the 6 batons and attempt to knock down the Field Kubbs before attempting to knock down the Baseline Kubbs of Team A. If any Baseline Kubbs are knocked down prior to all of the Field Kubbs, Team A can stand them back up.
If there are any Field Kubbs still standing after the 6 batons have been thrown by Team B, Team A can then throw the batons from a line level, with the Field Kubb closest to the centerline on their next turn.
The Kubbs knocked down by Team B must now be thrown by Team A back into Team B’s half of the area. Team B should stand them up where they land.
Team A is now to throw the 6 batons again, knocking down any Field Kubbs before trying to knock down Baseline Kubbs.
Play alternates between Team A and Team B until all of the Baseline Kubbs from one team have been knocked down. The team that doesn’t have any Baseline Kubbs left can now try to knock down the King.
Then the team that wins 2 out of the 3 sets wins the game.
Although a simple game, Kubb does have some rules attached to it. These are:
- Kubbs that have been knocked down are to be thrown from your Baseline.
- Players can only attempt to knock down the King from their own Baseline.
- If a Kubb wobbles but doesn’t fall completely, it can stay standing.
- If a Kubb falls and rests on another, it is deemed to have been knocked over.
- If a Baseline Kubb is knocked down while Field Kubbs are standing, it can be re-stood.
- If a Kubb lands onto another Kubb after being thrown back into the area, it should remain to form a tower.
- Batons are not to be spun and only thrown underarm and straight on.
- Batons are to be held at one end only.
- You can throw Kubbs in any direction.
- A baton can knock over multiple Kubbs at a time.
- If you knock down the King and the Kubbs are still standing, you have lost the game.
- The King can only be attacked once Team A and Team B have had one complete turn.
Tips and Strategies for Playing Kubb
When throwing Baseline Kubbs in (that had been knocked down) back into the opponent’s area, aim for them to land as close to their Baseline as possible. It would be best to have them land as close together as you can too.
If there is the opportunity to place your opponent Kubbs in the area, then do so as closely as you can to the King – this will make it more challenging for the opposite team to knock them over again, without knocking over the King and losing the game.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Kubb be Played With 2 Players?
Traditionally Kubb is a team game including many players; however, it is possible to play it informally with just 2 players (one for each team).
Why is it Called Kubb?
Kubb is a Swedish word that translates to “block of wood,” so it makes sense that the game has always been a form of wooden sticks being thrown at wooden blocks.
How Do You Pronounce Kubb?
Kubb is pronounced like Cube, although often mispronounced like ‘Cub.’
Alternative Games to Kubb
If Kubb may not be right for you, then you may want to consider Molkky. This is a Finnish lawn game very similar to Kubb; it’s based on teams taking turns to throw a wooden block at pins, known as skittles, with the first team knocking down 50 points worth being the winner.
Fricket is a very simple lawn game the whole family can enjoy. It’s much simpler than Kubb, with the premise being you’ve to knock cups off a pole by throwing a frisbee at them. It is that simple. Fricket is best played in teams of 2 or 2 – 4 players – of any age and ability.
If you need to bring the party inside, you could always opt for the globally adored Shuffleboard. This is a game of skill, strategy, hand-to-eye coordination, and competitive spirit, much like Kubb!