KUBB – The Viking Game
Origin of the game: Kubb (pronounced Koob – Translated as Log or Block Game) is a very old game whose origin is uncertain though thought to be French. Whether its beginning was in France, or it was the inventive imagination of some young Scandinavian children a millennium ago, we may never know. But what is known is that it was widely played over 1,000 years ago by the early Scandinavian Vikings and has been played on the Island of Gotland in the southern part of Sweden throughout the centuries, where it has persisted to this day. It’s popularity has increased in recent years to the point where an international competition is held yearly in Sweden.
Because of its name, “Kubbspel,” which means chopping block game (or fire log game), one can easily imagine how in the Viking years it was perhaps a favorite past time of the young Scandinavian children sent to collect firewood. The rules are simple and open to wide interpretation or variation depending only on the skills, ages, and imaginations of the participants.
Game Pieces: One (1) Kung (King), Ten (10) Kubb (Chopping Blocks), Six (6) Kastpinnar (Casting Pins), and Four (4) Hörnpinnar (Corner Pins) and Thor’s Mjolner (hammer - not included with the Basic or Budget games) for setting the corner pins.
How to Play: The game is played on a level field or open area defined by the four (4) Corner Pins most commonly on a sandy beach or a level lawn (on ice or snow is an option). The ten (10) Kubb (Chopping Blocks) are placed on end, five (5) on each team’s base line. The objective is for players standing at their base line to topple all five (5) of the opposing team’s Kubbar with an underhanded toss of the six (6) Kastpinnar (Casting Pins) and to then topple the Kung (King) which is placed in the center of the playing field.
CAUTION: Because of the very nature of the game where players are throwing wooden pieces towards opposing team members, adult supervision of young children is strongly recommended. Do not pick up the Kastpinnar until all six are thrown. The non-throwing team should stand on the side until their turn to throw.
1. PLAYING FIELD
A.The Corner Pins define the playing field. The field is rectangular and usually ranges from 7 to 15 feet wide by 15 to 30 feet long. The shorter sides of the rectangle become the respective base line of each team while the longer sides establish the sidelines or inbound playing area. B.Kubb placement: Each team places their five (5) Kubbar at even intervals
along their respective base line but no closer than one Kubb length from
either Corner Pin. They may not be imbedded in the surface to the
point that they become difficult to upset with the Kastpinnar.
C.Kungen: The Kung is placed half way between the two (2) base lines and centered between the two (2) sidelines.
The players are divided into two (2) teams ranging from one (1) to six (6) players per team. The Kastpinnar are distributed equally among the players of the teams, i.e. one (1) player would toss all six (6) of the Kastpinnar, whereas a six-member team would only have one (1) Kastpinne each to toss. In the case of four (4) or five (5) team members where the Kastpinnar cannot be distributed equally, the extra Kastpinne(ar) would be rotated among the team members so that each player in turn would have an opportunity to throw a second pin.
To determine which team will begin, one person from each side will toss the Kastpinne toward the Kung. The Kastpinne that lands closest to the Kung without knocking it over is the team which starts the game.
A.The Kastpinnar may rotate only in a vertical, end-over-end manner and not in a helicopter-like horizontal or sideways rotation. It must be thrown in an underhanded manner only from behind the team’s base line. B.Each member of the team tosses his/her Kastpinne(ar) at one of the opposing team’s Kubbs, attempting to knock it over. C.A Kubb is removed for the balance of the game once the opposing team has knocked it over with a Kastpinne (see variations). A Kubb is considered toppled if it should come to rest in a tilted manner supported by a Kastpinne or Hornpinnar (corner pin).
The Kung sits in the middle of the playing field. The first team to successfully knock over all the opposing team’s Kubbs then has the opportunity to topple the King and win the game. Toppling of the King prior to having toppled all of the opposing team’s Kubbs constitutes an automatic loss of the game.
One of the more popular variations has the opposing team collecting their toppled Kubbs, which now become Fältkubbar (Field Kubbs).
Once all six (6) of the Kastpinnar have been tossed, the opposing team tosses any of their toppled Kubbs into the opposing team’s playing field but past the Kung towards the other team (this is different from the rule in
Section 3 & 4). The same underhanded motion is used. The Field Kubbs must come to rest beyond the centerline where the Kung sits and within the boundaries defined by the corner pins. Once the Field Kubbs have all been successfully tossed, the opposing team stands each of the Field Kubbs on end in the spot that it came to rest.
In the event one of the tossed Field Kubbs hits another Field Kubb in the playing field, it and any others hit are stacked one on top of the other at the point where the first Field Kubb hit came to rest. In the event the first toss of the Field Kubb does not succeed in placing it inside the opposing team’s field, the same team member must make a second attempt. If the second toss also fails to place the Field Kubb inside the opposing team’s field of play, then the opposing team may place the Field Kubb(s) anywhere they wish inside the confines of their half of the field but not within one (1) Kastpinne length of the Kung.
Play continues with the 2nd team tossing their Kastpinnar at their own Field Kubb in the playing field. These must be knocked over before this team may proceed with knocking down the opposing team’s Kubbs. A Field Kubb is removed from the field (not the base line) for the balance of the game once the team has toppled it. Should any base line Kubb be toppled prior to the toppling the field Kubbs, it is returned to its upright position.
If the 2nd team is unsuccessful in knocking over their Field Kubbs in the playing field (not base line Kubbs), then the first team may toss their Kaspinnar from a line parallel to the standing Field Kubb closest to their opponent. This becomes the new temporary base line.
Should the Kung be toppled either by a toss of the Kastpinne, deflection of a Kastpinne, or by one of the Field Kubbs prior to the team’s toppling all of the opposing team’s Kubbs, the tossing team automatically loses the game.
The throwing of the Kastpinnar at the Kung must be done from the base line and not from any temporary base lines.
Another twist of the above variation is: When a team has successfully toppled all of the Kubbs but did not topple the Kung, the opposing team may attack the Kung and win the game if they can successfully topple the Kung. When playing with this variation, a team with only one (1) Kastpinne and only one (1) Kubb standing may want to forfeit the toss rather than risk toppling the last Kubb which would leave the Kung open to the opponent’s attack and if they were successful in toppling it would win the game.