Folkloric Fridays, Part X: Kubb


 by T.H.L. Dagonell

Kubb is a Serenite game whose origins are lost in antiquity.  The name comes from an Old Tongue word translating roughly as “to throw wood.”  An annual competition takes place in Belváros, with over 150 six-member teams taking part before the emperor or empress.

The basic idea behind the game is to take turns knocking down your opponents’ “kubbs” with throwing batons.  The playing field is any level stretch of ground, 10 yards by 5 yards.  Each team places their five guards at random points on their own baseline.  The emperor is placed in the exact center of the field.  When you have knocked down all your opponents’ guards, you need to knock down the emperor to win the game.

Friendly games are usually one versus one or two versus two.  To determine who goes first, either flip a coin or alternate throwing batons toward the emperor.  Whoever gets closest to the emperor without knocking it over goes first.  Knocking over the emperor automatically gives the starting position to the other team.

The starting team throws the six batons, from behind their own baseline, one at a time, at the opposing team’s kubbs.  On a two-player team, team members alternate throws.  All baton throws must be underhanded with a vertical spin only—no horizontal spin.

Kubbs which have been knocked down become “field kubbs.”  The opposing team must pick up all of these field kubbs and toss them underhanded onto their opponents’ half of the field.  Wherever the kubb lands, it is set upright, unless the kubb is thrown out of bounds, at which point the first team may place the kubbs wherever they wish on their half of the field.  The opposing team then collects all six batons and attempt to knock down the first team’s kubbs, starting with the field kubbs.  A baseline kubb which is knocked down before all of the field kubbs have been knocked down is merely set upright again.

After the second team has thrown, the first time collects the batons and tosses any field kubbs onto the second team’s half of the field.  After the field kubbs have been set upright, the first team begins to toss their batons; however, they are no longer restricted to the original baseline.  They may advance as far forward as the forward-most field kubb on their side of the emperor.  Again, all field kubbs must be knocked down before they can try for any baseline kubbs.  If all opposing kubbs have been knocked down, they can try to knock down the emperor.

If the team succeeds in knocking over the emperor, they win the game.  If the emperor is knocked down before the opponent’s field is cleared of kubbs, the throwing team immediately loses.  In less friendly games, there is a rule that you must have one baton left over when the emperor is toppled, which means that you cannot knock down the emperor on your last throw.

[A Kubb set will be available in the two Ravensgate taverns, but creating a homemade kubb set is easy.  You need one emperor (4”by 4” by 12”), ten guards (3” by 3” by 6”) and six batons (1”-dowel, 12” long).]