top of page

How to play kubb

The below play instructions and rules are from the official US National Kubb Championship rules, which can be downloaded from the link at the bottom of this page.

Game Objective

It is actually quite simple and straight forward. Be the first team to knock over the opposing team’s Kubbs and the King, by strategic throwing and placement of batons and kubbs, within the boundaries of the kubb pitch and the rules of the game. Knocking down the King must be completed in a single turn.

Game Components


Game Setup

Pitch marking stakes are placed so that a rectangle is formed, measuring 5m x 8m, with a center line intersecting the rectangle, and sidelines running on the long edges of the rectangle. The king is placed upright in the center of the pitch, and the kubbs are placed upright on the baselines, five kubbs on each side, no closer than a baton length to the corner stakes. Kubbs starting the game on the baseline are referred to as base kubbs. The baseline should run through the center of the kubbs.


For the purposes of illustration, the sidelines, center line, and baselines are marked. Marked lines that do not interfere with play are allowed.


Game-Play Overview

After determining which team throws first and from which side, the game begins with the attackers throwing the batons from behind their baseline, attempting to topple the base kubbs on the defenders baseline.
Once all the batons are thrown, the opposing team gathers any base kubbs toppled during the turn, and throws them into the up field (the far half of the pitch). Kubbs thrown into the up-field are called field kubbs, and are raised by the first team (now the defenders) where they came to rest. The second team (now the attackers) throws the batons, first attempting to topple any field kubbs, then any base kubbs, then the king.
If they are unable to knock down all of the kubbs, then the king, the first team picks up all toppled kubbs, throws them into play as field kubbs, and play continues to a second round. Rounds are continued until the game ends.
The game is won by the team who topples all the kubbs in the up-field and on the baseline then topples the king. However, if a team topples the king at any time prior to toppling all field and base kubbs then that team immediately loses the game. A match is determined by the winner of best-of-three games.


Phase Breakdown


Beginning Toss Phase

Determine Sides and Order


Once both teams agree on an accurate setup of the pitch, sides and order are determined by the following rules:

1. Each team chooses one player as a representative and selects a baton.


2. The two representatives stand behind opposing baselines facing each other.


3. One or both count to 3; on 3 they each throw a single baton according to the
rules for throwing batons—see "Throwing Batons" below.


4. When the batons come to rest, the team whose baton is judged closest to the
king without having knocked it over chooses throwing order or chooses which
baseline to defend. If the winner chooses throwing order, the losing team may choose which    baseline to defend. If the winner chooses a baseline to defend, the losing team may choose throwing order. All games start with the 2, 4, 6 open. The opening team throws two batons, the second team throws four batons, and the opening team then throws six batons. Two different players need to throw the two batons, and at least three different players need to throw the four batons.
          (a) The baton may touch the king, but cannot knock it over.
          (b) In the event of a tie, or if the king falls after having been impacted by both teams’ batons, re-throw until there is a clear winner.
          (c) On the second and third games of a match teams switch sides and throwing order.


5. For any disagreements on initial baton or side selection, a random method (ex. coin flip) can be used to determine.


6. Play then continues to the baton throwing phase.

Baton Tossing Phase

Throwing Batons


1. Batons must be thrown underarm. The baton does not have to rotate, but if it does it must rotate end-over-end vertically. If the baton does not rotate, the baton needs to travel straight with no horizontal rotation from release to impact. Regardless of how thrown, the baton cannot go more than 30º off the vertical plane and must stay within the throwing area (see below).

2. If the opposing team failed to topple all of their field kubbs on the previous turn then an advantage line is created running parallel to the baselines and through the center of the field kubb closest to the center line. While throwing batons, players may advance to and throw from behind an advantage line.


3. Any supporting areas must remain behind the throwing line and between the sidelines throughout the throwing motion, and without assistance from other players.


4. Multiple kubbs can be toppled from a single baton throw. If any base kubbs are toppled and there is at least one field kubb still standing then the base kubbs are immediately raised to their previous locations—they remain base kubbs.


5. No player may throw more than two batons in a single round.


6. Only one baton may be thrown at a time.


7. If a kubb is struck and, without ever becoming parallel to the ground, is pushed so that it is not legally in-bounds then the kubb is immediately returned to the location it last was legally in-bounds.


8. If a kubb is struck and there is a question as to whether a kubb will topple, a reasonable amount of time shall be provided to determine if the kubb topples. Kubbs that fall that were not struck as a result of the present throw are placed back in their original position prior to the throw.


9. If a kubb is struck and, without ever becoming parallel to the ground, comes to rest leaning on a game component, the attacking team may ask to temporarily halt play. The defending team is to move the supporting piece(s) a minimum amount required to determine if the leaning piece will fall, without touching the kubb in question. Once a determination has been made, pieces are to be set back as close to their original positions as possible. If a piece will fall, it is considered toppled the remainder of the phase.


10. It is possible for a toppled kubb to be knocked over, then through the course of motion, to come to rest standing on one end. In this case, the kubb is still considered toppled, and is customary to put a token on the toppled kubb.


11. If field kubbs located in the attacking team’s half of the pitch are hit by the attacking team’s batons, those field kubbs and any toppled kubbs in the opponent’s half of the pitch, and king on game-ending king throws, are immediately placed back in their previous location. The baton is forfeited.


12. Once all batons have been thrown:
     (a) If the king has been toppled, the game is over.
     (b) If the game is not over, the defender may reset any leaning kubbs to vertical. The game progresses to the kubb tossing phase.

Kubb Tossing Phase

Throwing Field Kubbs


1. After the attacking team has thrown all the batons the defending team becomes the attacking team and gathers any kubbs toppled by their opponent then throws them to the up field as field kubbs.


2. Kubbs may be held and thrown in any manner, but must be thrown with an underarm motion (they may rotate in any direction when thrown).


3. Any supporting areas must remain behind the throwing line and between the sidelines throughout the throwing motion, and without assistance from other players.


4. If a thrown field kubb impacts a previously thrown field kubb then they are each to be raised where they finally come to rest. It is therefore possible to knock kubbs into and out of play during the course of throwing field kubbs. It is important that the field kubbs are not touched by any player until all field kubbs have been thrown.
(a) This applies to previously established field kubbs from prior rounds as well; if one is impacted by a thrown field kubb then it is to be raised in its new position and remains a field kubb.
(b) If the thrown field kubb impacts a field kubb in the throwers half of the pitch, the previously standing field kubb is place back to its original location, and the thrown kubb is considered out of bounds.


5. If a thrown field kubb impacts a field kubb in play and the struck field kubb comes to rest after impact in such a way that it cannot be raised in bounds:
(a) If the impacted field kubb was previously established (having been left standing in a previous round) then it is to be returned to the attacking team to be thrown and is treated as if it had not yet been thrown in this round.
(b) If the impacted field kubb was thrown in the current turn and has only been thrown once in the current turn, it is returned to the attacking team to be re-thrown.
(c) If the resting field kubb has already been thrown twice in this turn then it is a punishment kubb (see rules for punishment kubbs Step 11 in Kubb Raising Phase below).


6. After all field kubbs have been thrown, any that have only been thrown once, that come to rest in such a way that it is impossible to raise them in bounds according to the rules for raising kubbs (see Sec II.D below) are returned to the attacking team to be re-thrown.
(a) For purposes of determining whether a kubb is in bounds judge where the center of the kubb is relative to the center of the boundary. If 50% of the kubb is in, it is declared in bounds.
(b) If it is not immediately apparent whether a kubb can be raised in bounds it should be temporarily raised after all other kubbs have been thrown so a clear determination can be made. If it is determined to be in bounds and there are any kubbs to be re-thrown then it should be laid back down in its original position until all re-throws are completed.

Kubb Raising Phase

Standing Field Kubbs


1. After all field kubbs have been thrown and re-thrown as necessary kubbs are to be raised upon one end while keeping two corners on the ground. The two areas where a kubb could potentially be raised are called the footprints. If both footprints are not obstructed and in bounds the defending team may choose on which end to raise the kubb.


2. If a thrown field kubb comes to rest on one end and is at least 50% in bounds, then it is considered "raised" and is not to be moved by the defending team.


3. Any field kubb that can be raised in bounds must be raised in bounds.


4. Defenders cannot raise kubbs in such a manner that forces other kubbs out of bounds when other kubb raising options are available.


5. If a field kubb cannot be raised on one end due to being obstructed by the king, a pitch marking stake, or another kubb, then it must be raised on the unobstructed end.
(a) If both ends are obstructed and either end can be unobstructed by raising another kubb first then the defending team must do so.
(b) If neither end can be unobstructed then the field kubb may be raised on either end, touching the obstruction, and as close as possible to the potential footprint it had if there had been no obstruction. Pitch marking stakes are not allowed to be removed to raise a kubb.


(c) If one end is obstructed and the other end is out of bounds then it must be raised on the inbounds end touching the obstruction, and as close as possible to the potential footprint it had if there had been no obstruction. Note: It is entirely possible the kubb will end up being out of bounds.
(d) A kubb leaning on another kubb or other obstruction is raised upon the end closest to the field. If that end is out of bounds, raise the supporting kubb, then re-lower the leaning kubb to its previous position, and raise it in bounds.


6. Any field kubb that, after having been thrown, comes to rest horizontally on top of one or more other field kubbs is to be lowered directly to the pitch, touching the lower kubb. Note: Defender chooses what side to lower if both ends are unobstructed and in-bounds.
(a) If this is impossible on one end due to obstruction or the boundary of the pitch then it must be done on the unobstructed and in bounds end. The bottom kubb cannot be moved until the elevated kubb is resolved.
(b) If this is impossible on either end due to obstructions then un-raised kubbs must be resolved in a legal manner that allows the elevated kubb to be lowered directly to the pitch


7. Once a player begins to raise a kubb on one end it cannot then be laid back down in order to be raised on the other end, barring temporary standing to determine in/out of bounds.


8. Kubbs raised by the defending team are to be self-supported. Raised kubbs cannot be supported by another game component.


9. Reasonable and essential force is allowed to push or tamp on a kubb in order to create self-support.
(a) Twisting a kubb is never allowed.
(b) Debris from the pitch may be cleared prior to raising a kubb, but altering the natural state of the pitch is not allowed. (Note: Moving a twig is legal; pulling grass from the pitch is illegal)
(c) Debris may not be used to create nonessential support to a kubb.


10. Kubbs that come to rest on the long edge of the kubb (when four corners of a kubb are not supported by the ground or playing surface) are to be flattened in an unobstructed and in-bounds direction closest to the pitch (with gravity) before being raised. If a long edge of the kubb is completely vertical, it is the choice of the defending team which way to flatten the kubb. Flattening against gravity to make the kubb in-bounds is not allowed. However, if a kubb comes to rest on the long edge so that it is in contact with another game component and due to contact with that game component the unobstructed direction is both with gravity and would create a situation where the kubb is out-of-bounds, after any field kubb(s) that was supporting the kubb on edge is raised, the kubb is allowed to be flattened against gravity to make it in-bounds, if possible.

11. If a field kubb that was thrown twice has come to rest in such a way that it cannot be raised in bounds then it becomes a punishment kubb. Punishment kubbs are collected by the defending team and placed anywhere on their half of the pitch provided that they are at least one baton-length (30cm) from the king and at least one baton-length from any pitch marking stakes.

bottom of page