My Favorite Yard Game: How To Play Kubb

Kubb is a fun yard game for 2-12 players that is similar to horseshoes or bocce that I first played while traveling in Sweden. The game can take anywhere from twenty minutes to several hours to play and usually involves a fair amount of taunting no matter what continent you’re on. Having uneven teams does not necessarily offer an advantage, making it a great outdoor game for cookouts or beach parties.

Scott and Huy vs. John and Jon in the Kubb Quarter Finals

Equipment

  • 10 kubbs, which are 3″ x 3″ x 6″ wooden blocks
  • 1 King, which is a 3.5″ x 3.5″ x 16″ wooden block
  • 6 wooden throwing batons that measure 1.5″ x 14″
  • 4 corner markers (rocks, stakes, shoes, etc.)

Goal

Be the first team to knock down all your kubbs and then the king, or be on the opposite team of the player that knocks down the king before knocking down all of their kubbs. Knocking down the king without knocking down the kubbs is like sinking the eight ball out of turn.

Setup

Rules of Kubb, Setup Example Mark off a 16 by 26 foot field by placing rocks or stakes in the corners. Stand the king in the center and evenly spread five kubbs along each baseline.

Game Play

Rules of Kubb, Example 11. Team 1 throws it’s batons at the kubbs on the opposite baseline. Batons must be thrown underhand and must travel straight or end over end. They cannot be thrown horizontally or sidearm.

Rules of Kubb, Example 22. When Team 1 is finished, Team 2 stands at their baseline and throws any knocked down kubbs back into the other half of the field. These become known as “field kubbs”. Team 2 has two chances to throw each kubb into the opposite half of the field. If they throw the kubb out of bounds twice in a row, the offending kubb is placed 6 inches behind the king.

Rules of Kubb, Example 33. Once all the field kubbs have been thrown, Team 1 stands them up. If a kubb was thrown into the field and it hit another field kubb, the kubbs are stacked on top of each other. There is no limit to how many kubbs can be stacked in this way.

Rules of Kubb, Example 44. Team 2 then must knock down all the field kubbs before throwing at the baseline kubbs. Any baseline kubbs that are knocked down before the field kubbs do not count and are stood back up.

Rules of Kubb, Example 55. When Team 2 is done throwing, Team 1 picks up any knocked down kubbs (both field and baseline) and throws them back into the opposite half of the field for Team 1 to stand up.

Rules of Kubb, Example 66. If Team 2 left any field kubbs standing, Team 1 may throw their batons from behind an imaginary line that runs parallel to the kubb that is closest to the king.

Play continues on this way until one team knocks over all their field and baseline kubbs. That team may then attempt to knock down the king. All attempts on the king must be taken from the baseline. Once the king is knocked down, the game is over.

Sound fun? Be sure to check in on Monday to find out how you can build your own kubb set for dirt cheap!

23 thoughts on “My Favorite Yard Game: How To Play Kubb

  1. i didn’t even read this post and it is, by far, my favorite post EVER!!! i’ve been trying to explain that game to people for years and have only received blank stares in return. now i have diagrams to put in my powerpoint presentation. did you make those diagrams? i am totally going to make a set when I get back to PDX. Can we play when I visit??? I’m off to canada to hang out at the international hippie convention. (translation: going to orientation for school).

  2. Are there any rules about which player does the field krubb return, or which players get the extra batons if there are 4 or 5 on a team?

    When the field kubbs are returned, must they lie entirely inside the field, or is on the line counted as within bounds?

    Are kubbs knocked over by wind reset or played as if hit?

  3. 1. Vikings do not squabble. If there is a dispute, a fight to the death can determine over who makes the return or gets the extra batons. The other can watch the throws from his place in Valhalla.

    2. Play like a Viking, not a lawyer. You’re throwing a 3×6 inch block into a 13×26 foot space. I would say that the kubb must land entirely in bounds.

    3. Everyone knows that wind is caused by the swift pass of Odin on his eight-legged horse, so to keep the competition fair, wind knocked kubbs are reset. The same is true if Thor strikes a kubb down with lightning.

  4. Provided one throws the baton underhanded (as in horseshoes), is there any rule which says one must throw by grasping the end of the baton, rather than holding it by the center? A throw like this would result in the body of the baton remaining relatively parallel to the ground perhaps with greater chance of success.

  5. I played this game two years ago in Sweden and absolutely loved it. Long island iced teas are a good side dish. I had written down the dimensions of the blocks so that I could make my own set and subsequently lost them! Thanks for the great diagrams.

  6. Just made a set out of drift wood w/ my girlfriend. Her borther brought a set to a music festival we went to last summer and everyone loved it. We had all kinds of people asking questions and watching us play. Thanks all the info. Super easy to make and best of all free!!!

  7. Greatest game ever. We are trying to start a league up in Pennsylavania. Check it out and if you live close to Evansburg PA , drop an email and come over and play. We have rankings, trophys, tournaments, everything you could ask for………

  8. If playing on concrete or asphalt driveway, does anyone have any ideas on how to keep the wood from chipping and getting all messed up? We currently use duct tape wrapped around the ends but it only works so well. Just wondered if anyone else has run into this problem.

  9. I hate to tell you that these rules are not correct, a fielded Kubb should only be stacked upon if it has survived from a previous rond.
    BUT, the most important thing of all, Kubb shall be played with laughter and there are different rules in different area codes.
    So keep the focus on having fun instead of rules and dimensions.

    //Erik Barrulf
    Since I’m Swedish I’ve played Kubb since birth.

  10. Anyone know where to buy a Kubb set (shipping to Toronto, Canada)? I’ve been looking for this game since my visit to Sweden but can’t find it anywhere.

  11. Thanks so much. I guess my family is always drunk when we play….and make the rules up as we go…at least now we will have an offical rule book so fist fights will be avoided…at least while playing kubb or as we call it kubbie

  12. Not sure about the stacking rule. At least I didn’t hear of it in my first game yesterday outside of Eau Claire WI. I trust the native’s post.

    Thanks for the visual rules! I’ll be sharing with my bros on the east coast. Personally I had to watch the game before I could get it, but this is good.

  13. I have been confused on the throwback thing. These rules say that field Kubbs that are knocked down by team 2 are thrown back by team 1 along with any baseline kubbs that are knocked down.

    Most of the rules on other sites have said that the field kubbs that are knocked down after being thrown back are removed from the field.

    We have played both ways and personally I like the rules you have posted. We have only played 2 times. I’m trying to bring interest in Kubb into our area. We love it!

    What way is the correct way to play as far as what kubbs are thrown back?

    Made my own set. Easy and fun to make. You can personalize it any way you want as far as paint and such.

  14. I am from new zealand and I purchased my kubb set from a local maker who makes them fron a native hardwood and are varnished with norwegian spar varnish and come in a purpose built wood box with carry handles,we take the set all over the country when driving and play where ever we can,people stand and watch and then after a while it gets the better of them and they have to come and ask what are the rules and want a try.Our rules are slightly different in that fielded kubbs that are knocked over are removed from the game and when a player is making an attempt at the king you must turn around and with your back to the king must throw the battens between the legs,this just adds another challenge as the king is closer at this point.Interestingly this great game always goes better with beer.Yay Vikings.

  15. We are having a 4th of July party at our Swedish House and found your instructions and so my husband made the set. We did a trial game and I won!!! Love this – played it in Sweden with our relatives.

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