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Kubb General Info, Rules, Game Play Strategy and Options

Kubb (pronounced KOOB) is rapidly spreading across America as a family favorite backyard game.  With it's origins believed to date back to the days of the Vikings, it is also known as "Viking Chess."  Here's a quick run down as to why Kubb is becoming so popular so fast:

  • Kubb is easy to learn, and can be enjoyed by all ages.  As long as you can throw something, then pick it back up, you can enjoy playing Kubb.
  • It's just plain ol' fun to get outside and throw stuff and knock things down.  The sound of wood hitting wood can be described as therapeutic.  
  • As long as you have the space needed, Kubb can be played anywhere on just about any playing surface including grass, sand, snow, ice, asphalt and more.
  • Kubb can be played one-on-one, or by as many as 12 people in teams of six, making it a great game for tailgating and backyard parties and BBQs.
  • Kubb is never the same game twice, and while it is easy to learn, there is a level of skill and strategy to master the game.  Different playing fields and outdoor conditions change game play every time as well.
  • You can play Kubb with one hand, so the other hand is available to hold an adult beverage or hot dog.
  • There's no need to keep score!  The Kubbs do the score keeping for you.
  • By making the playing field smaller or giving younger players additional baton tosses the game difficulty is easy to adjust.

 The Kubb Equipment

  • 1 King, 3.5" x 3.5" x 12" tall
  • 10 Kubbs, 2.75" x 2.75" x 6" tall
  • 6 batons, 1.75" Round x 12" long
  • Optional:  4 corner markers and 2 center line markers, which can be stakes, rocks, bricks, you get the idea


  The Rules:  For our .pdf quick cheat sheet on how to play Kubb, Click Here.

 The object of the game is to toss your batons and knock over all the kubbs, once they are all down you can attack the King.  First team to knock down the King wins.  Games are generally 3 matches, best 2 of 3 wins.

Game Set Up:

The entire game area is called "the pitch" and measures 8M x 5 M (approx 26' 3" x 16' 5")  A center line runs across the pitch, and the King sits in the middle of the center line.  The center line also defines the teams fields.  The baseline is where the players toss batons from, and the permanent or starting baseline is where the kubbs are initially placed.  Five kubbs are placed on each base line spaced evenly and not closer than 1 baton length or 12" from the corner marker


  • The King is placed in the center of the field, the 10 Kubbs are placed 5 on each side.
  • The Kubbs should be set evenly spaced with the permanent baseline running through the center of the kubb. 
  • Kubbs on the baseline are referred to as base kubbs.


Game Play

 Teams decide who will go first.  Some throw 1 baton each, the closest to the king without touching it goes first.  The team throwing first are the attackers (team 1 for this demo), the other team (team 2) are the defenders.

 The attacking team, team 1, throws all 6 batons, knocking over the base kubbs.  The king may not be knocked over during the initial attack.  If 5 kubbs are knocked over during the first attack with 5 batons, the initial attack is ended.  Batons must always be thrown underhand, held by one end of the baton. They may turn end over end, but may not twist horizontally (a helicopter spin.)  They may not be thrown side arm or held from the middle as to fly perpendicular to the field.

Team 1 knocked down 2 kubbs.  

The defenders, Team 2, now collect the batons and kubbs knocked down, and toss the kubbs collected into the opposite playing field.  The kubbs are always tossed from the permanent baseline.  These tossed kubbs are now known as “field kubbs.”

 Team 1 places the field kubbs upright where they landed. 

Note:  If any kubbs team 2 tossed land "out of bounds," meaning past the baseline or outside the sidelines, it must be tossed again.  If it falls out of bounds again team 1 may place it anywhere in the field, but not within 12" of the king or the corner markers.

Team 2 now becomes the attackers, and tosses the batons knocking down as many field kubbs as they can.  Only once all the field kubbs are knocked down, the baseline kubbs are attacked and knocked down.   If a baseline kubb is knocked down while a field kubb remains upright, the base kubb is placed upright again and play continues.  The baton counts as thrown and may not be retrieved and re-tossed.

In our demo game, team 2 knocks down both field kubbs, then 3 base line kubbs.

Team 1 now collects the batons and downed kubbs, and tosses the downed kubbs into the opposite field.  Note they throw them all in one area, and not close to the king.  This is a good game strategy making it easier to knock down more than one kubb with one baton toss, called a combo.

 Team 2 places the kubbs upright. 

Team 1 now becomes the attackers, and attempts to knock down the field kubbs, then any remaining base kubbs.  In this demo, team 1 fails to knock down all the field kubbs.

Team 2 collects the batons and downed kubbs, tosses the kubbs into the opposite field.  Team 1 places the tossed kubbs upright.

Team 2 are now the attackers. Since team 1 didn’t knock down all the field kubbs, the temporary baseline becomes where the kubb closest to the centerline is standing, and team 2 can throw from anywhere behind that line.

Team 2 tosses the batons.  In this demo, they knock down the field kubbs, then the 2 remaining base kubbs and still have 1 baton.  All kubbs are down so they may attack the king.

When attacking the king, the baton must be tossed from behind the permanent baseline.

If Team 2 knocks down the king, the game is ended, team 2 wins.  

Competition often consists of winning 2 out of 3 games.

Rules not mentioned or to remember:

  • If when tossing the kubbs a kubb lands out of bounds (outside the opposite playing field,) it must be thrown again. If it lands out of bounds again the opposing team may place it anywhere in the playing field, but not within 12” (1 baton length) of either the king or the corner markers.  If a tossed kubb is ruled to be "on the line" it must be re-tossed.  The pitch is 8M x 5M, if you can't get it in your field in 2 tries have another drink and pray Odin is not watching.  Blame it on the fact that Loki has been messing with you.
  • Multiple kubbs may be knocked down with 1 baton toss in a combo shot. If both a field kubb and a base kubb are knocked down in a combo shot, as long as the baton hits the field kubb first and it is the last field kubb, the base kubb stays down.  If the field kubb is not the last field kubb, or the baton hits the base kubb first, the base kubb is returned to its original upright position. 
  • Batons must be thrown underhand, held by one end of the baton. They may turn end over end, but may not twist horizontally (a helicopter spin.)  They may not be thrown side arm or held from the middle as to fly perpendicular to the field.
  • If when tossing kubbs into the pitch before attacking another kubb is knocked down, the kubb tossed is placed where it landed, the original kubb is place back in it's original position.  See other game versions for variations on this rule.

A bit on Strategy:

As mentioned earlier, when tossing the kubbs back into play try to group them together, close to the center line but not too close to the king.

Game variations:

With younger players or beginners, the pitch size may be made smaller, say 6M x 4M, to make play easier.  More batons per turn is also seen, using 8 batons rather than 6.

Some rules will allow stacking of thrown kubbs if they knock down another kubb when tossed into play, placing one kubb on top of another, making combo shots easier.

King resurrection is allowed in some games, if the king is knocked over prior to all kubbs, the king is up-righted and the turn is over rather than the game.

Kubbs can be "mortal" so that they are only tossed into play once becoming a field kubb.  Once a field kubb is overturned it is taken out of play.  This makes game play very fast, and usually only one toss at a King is allowed per attack.

Again,   The Rules:  For our .pdf quick cheat sheet on how to play Kubb, Click Here.

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