By Tim (Social Content Guy)
My new favorite lawn game is one you might not have heard of before. It is called Kubb (listen to how it is pronounced here.) A friend of mine recently introduced me to the game and set up a game one afternoon. I was intrigued by the description and history of the game and by the time the first game was over, I was hooked. This may or may have been because I won…
Like many games, the history of Kubb is not entirely known and the theories about it are colorful. You can read some of them on good ole Wikipedia. I will tell you the version my friend told me. Supposedly the game traces all the way back to the Vikings. The story goes that they would play the game with the skulls and femurs of their enemies. Some still refer to the pieces as skulls and femurs. Some still dress like Vikings when they play too. Some also call the game Viking Chess.
Here is a basic explanation of how Kubb is played. There are two teams that play against each other. The pitch size is 5 meters by 8 meters. That’s roughly 16.4 feet by 26.2 feet. There are six boundary pieces that are placed so the pitch is clearly defined. On each side of the pitch there are five skulls (kubbs) with a larger one in the middle (called the King). The object of the game is to knock over the other teams skulls by throwing the six femurs (wooden batons). Only after you have knocked over all the skulls can you knock over the King. Should the King be knocked over beforehand you lose the game.
To see who goes first one person from each team throws a femur to get it as close to the King as possible without touching it. Whichever team is closest then gets to throw all six femurs. Now if you have been doing the math you are probably thinking, “What’s the point? You have five skulls and one king to knock over with six femurs. That will be easy.” Wrong! It is actually quite challenging. And there are some more fun rules that make the game more interesting.
After the first team has thrown all six femurs the second team must start their turn by throwing back whichever skulls were knocked over. They must be thrown on the first team’s side and in bounds. After throwing the first skull you’ll want to try to hit it with any remaining skulls. This results in the skulls being stacked making them easier to knock over. Once they have been thrown and placed the second team gets to throw all six femurs. The field Kubbs (the ones just thrown by the second team) have to be knocked over before moving on to the back row or baseline Kubbs. As you can imagine this makes the game more challenging as well as longer.
The team that is first to knock over all the field Kubbs, the baseline Kubbs, and then the King, wins. Some have said Kubb can be described as a combination of bowling and horseshoes. I’d say that is a pretty close description. There are a few more rules I didn’t mention but you can read about them or watch this very helpful video.
If you have never heard of Kubb I’d encourage you to find or build a set and go try it out. If you have played before but it’s been awhile I hope this rekindles your love for it. My friend who introduced me to the game held a tournament recently. The winning team got to take home a homemade Kubb set. Guess who won?! That’s right. My family and I now own a sweet Kubb set and can be found playing in our backyard on most days.