This is how to play Kubb, also known as Viking chess.

10. September 2017 - Alexander Schmidt

How to Play Kubb - Throw Sticks in the Viking Chess Game | Game Rules


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Want to go into battle as a Viking? With the outdoor throwing game Kubb you can do that without any risk of injury, but guaranteed with a lot of fun! This is how to play Kubb.

Kubb, also known as Viking Chess, Swedish Chess, Sticks Game or Pawn Bowling, is one of the classic throwing games par excellence.

In public parks, in your own garden or at the campsite – wherever people are outdoors and looking for fun, you see Kubb players in summer. What is it about the game and why is it addictive once you start?

A big advantage of Kubb is that the number of players is very variable: from 2 to a maximum of 12 players, divided into two teams (1-6 players) anything is possible. Kubb is therefore perfect for larger groups of friends, but also families and even couples.

In addition, the basic principle of how to play Kubb is simple and easy to learn: the players of the 2 teams take turns trying to knock down the wooden blocks placed by the opponents – the kubbs – with their throwing sticks.

In the middle of the battle …er… playing field is the so-called king, a somewhat heavy Kubb – it must be hit last!

In order to win, a team must first knock down all the opponent’s cubes and then the king. However, if a player accidentally falls the king first, his team loses immediately. (More on the Game Rules how to play Kubb below).

A Brief History of Kubb

This is how to play Kubb, the throwing game originated in Sweden, but is now popular all over Europe.

Kubb i Hällevik by David Svensson at CC BY 2.0

Rumour has it that Kubb in one form or another actually dates back to the Vikings and has survived as various throwing games in Sweden and Finland.

However, there is historical evidence of Kubb-like games only from the beginning of the 20th century, e.g. Kägelkrig (skittles war) and Kyykkä (Finnish skittles).

Kubb in the now popular style of play developed in Sweden in the 80s and has since inspired many people worldwide. It has become one of the most popular outdoor games, especially in Europe.

Since 1995, the official Kubb Championships have been held on Gotland in Sweden, where there are no age restrictions. By the way, in the last 4 years a German team always won the world championship title, the Kubb’Ings.

Kubb Equipment

A standard Kubbs game consists of 23 pieces: 6 throwing sticks, 6 boundary sticks, 10 Kubbs and 1 king (large Kubb).
Since everything in the Kubb is made of wood, anyone who enjoys crafting can make a Kubb set themselves and then design and decorate it according to their own ideas. Here are good instructions with clear pictures.

Alternatively, you can also buy a ready-made Kubb game at a reasonable price. If you go to amazon via one of the following affiliate links and buy a Kubb game, you support our website without the product costing you a single cent more.

How to Play Kubb – Game Rules

As an outdoor throwing game, the rules for how to play Kubb are easy to explain

Kubbmatch in the park © Jon Åslund (CC BY 2.0)

As with many recreational games, there are slightly different sets of rules how to play Kubb, because certain special rules have become established in circles of friends or families. And even the rulebooks that come with the finished Kubb games often differ. We follow the official rules for German championships as far as possible.

Setting Up the Playing Field

The standard pitch measures 5 m x 8 m and is marked out with the 6 boundary rods. 5 Kubbs are placed on each of the two baselines (5 m), whereby the two outer Kubbs must be placed at least one throwing stick length from the boundary rods of the playing field. Kubbs placed on the baselines are called base kubbs. The king is placed in the centre of the playing field.

Who Starts?

First, it is determined which team may start. To do this, 2 players, representing their team, simultaneously throw a baton from the baseline towards the king. The team that is closer gets to start. But be careful: whoever knocks over the king in the process gives the other team the privilege of starting.

First Round

The game of Kubb is about using throwing sticks to knock down all the opponent's cubbs and then the king.

IMGP7084 by Swithun Crowe at CC BY 2.0

Then the first round begins: the team whose turn it is now tries to hit and knock down as many opposing base cubbs as possible with the 6 throwing sticks. When throwing, it is important that the player stands behind his own base line and throws correctly, namely from below. The throwing stick may rotate in the air, but only vertically, not horizontally as with a helicopter, otherwise the throw is invalid!

Now it’s Team 2’s turn: they collect all the throwing sticks and felled Kubbs. After falling down, a base cube becomes a so-called field cube and Team 2 must now try to throw the collected field cube back into Team 1’s half of the field!

It is advantageous if the cubbs are as close together as possible after they have been thrown in, so that more than one cube can be felled in one throw. Before Team 2 can aim at Team 1’s kubbs, they must first knock down all the field kubbs, for which they should of course use as few throwing sticks as possible.
If a field kubb does not land in the opponent’s field, team 2 has a second throw. If it misses again, the kubb becomes a penalty kubb and may be thrown by team 1 into its own field, but not closer to the king or to the edge of the field than one throwing stick length. In general, all field cubbs remain in the game for each further round and must therefore be knocked over again and again before the base cubbs can be targeted.

Once all field cubbs are in the playing field, they must be placed by team 1. The cubbs may be opened in any direction, but always so that they are in the field. A field kubb at the edge must also stand with at least half its base above the centre of the line.

More Rounds

Now it is Team 2’s turn with the 6 throwing sticks. But before thinking about the opposing base cubbs, the field cubbs must be knocked down. Only when these have been knocked down can the remaining wooden blocks be aimed at the opponent’s base cubbs.

It gets really nasty for team 2 if they do not succeed in clearing all the field cubbs in the second round. The fallen cubbs are thrown back in, but now the player from team 1 whose turn it is in round 3 may advance to the field cube still standing that is closest to the centre line. More precisely, up to the imaginary parallel to the centre line that passes through this kubb.

Goal and End of the Game

The aim is to fell all the kubbs in the opponent’s half of the game in one round and then lastly to bring down the king in the centre. The team that succeeds first is the winner!

If a player accidentally falls the king first, the opposing team wins immediately (exception: deciding who starts, see above).

Does all this sound a bit complicated? It is not! Here again as a video:


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Fancy some more throwing games and trendy sports? Try Crossboccia, Ladder Golf or Ultimate Frisbee!

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Image source Cover photo: Kubb by Jon-Eric Melsæter at CC BY 2.0.

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