As more and more kubb tournaments fill the calendar, so do the differences in rules and formats. Every tournament director can decide which ones to use. Some will strictly follow the U.S. National Kubb Championship rules while others will establish a variation of some kind.

One big variation recently emerging is whether there will be lines or stakes. On occasion you’ll see both, but usually they are mutually exclusive. In the World Kubb Championship and in some European tournaments both are used. The Great Lakes Kubb Championship has experimented with both formats: lines only and lines with stakes. Having the two at a tournament can be interesting—you have the best of both worlds, especially if you expect a lot of beginners who can learn better from the layout. It’s easier for them to understand each concept better. And it sure does make the pitches look distinctive and sharp!

Photo courtesy of Phil Dickinson

What exactly are lines and stakes? Lines denote the boundaries of the pitch typically by a thinly applied coat of spray paint. Sometimes lines are actual ropes tied to stakes. However, this setup is not allowed in most tournaments as it restricts play. Stakes are pins (usually wood but they could be some other material), stuck in the ground to make the boundaries of the pitch. The four corner stakes denote the sidelines and baselines while the midfield stakes mark the centerline.

Most tournaments in the United States and around the world use stakes. Usually, when stakes are used, they cannot be removed at any time during the game. However, in Belgium and Germany, the center stakes may be removed on the spot temporarily if they will interfere with blasting.

It is important to know which layout is being used at your upcoming tournament because it will make a difference how you prepare. Do you use the stake to your advantage, both in drilling and raising kubbs? Are you more successful drilling without the stake because you like to cut the kubbs from different angles without worrying about an obstacle? What is the diameter of the stake? It can vary from a half inch to an inch or more—especially when using screwdrivers with big heads. More than any other rule, this aspect can make a huge difference in how you play.

There are many pros and cons to consider for lines versus stakes which you’ll find in the pro/con comparisons below:

Lines

  • Easier to decide 50 percent (or 100 percent) in.
  • Allows inkastares more freedom to cut in from the outside without restriction.
  • Allows more kubbs to be raised in when the stake would have otherwise prevented it.
  • Eliminates the possibility of tripping or toe injuries (for barefoot players).
  • Allows blasters the freedom of throwing batons without the interference of a center stake.
  • Eliminates the risk of the baton hitting a corner stake upon the thrower’s release.
  • Makes it easier to notice foot faults.
  • Allows the option of kubb placement at the corner instead of a baton length away.
  • Takes a long time to lay out, especially when care is needed to make lines thin and straight.
  • Can fade or get eradicated by scuffing feet and inkasted kubbs.
  • Spray paint can get expensive when laying out a lot of pitches.
  • Can only be used once per tournament (aren’t mobile).
  • More difficult for some inkastares to drill into the midfield corner without a fixed wall.
  • A disadvantage to defenders who can’t hide the kubbs behind the stake and thereby reducing the effectiveness of the blaster.
  • If not applied properly, lines might be overly wide and/or crooked.
  • Spray paint will put toxic fumes in the air and may cause damage to grass.

Stakes

  • Easy and quick to set up, especially when there are many pitches.
  • Easy to replace with new ones if they become broken.
  • Relatively inexpensive.
  • Can be reused over and over again.
  • Provide inkastares a target to with which the kubbs can bounce or roll against.
  • An advantage to defenders who can raise kubbs so they are protected at certain angles from a baton blast.
  • Precise markings when laid out properly.
  • Allows baton action to ricochet and knock more kubbs down than would have otherwise occurred.
  • Can be ambiguous for determining 50 percent (or 100 percent) in.
  • Restricts kubbs from being cut in from the outside when drilling.
  • Restricts kubbs from being raised in when they would have been otherwise.
  • Makes calling foot faults more difficult.
  • Increases the possibility of tripping or toe injuries (for barefoot players).
  • Restricts angles in which a baton can be thrown to connect with a pile of field kubbs.
  • Increases “luck” over “skill” when batons ricochet around.
  • Can’t be used on some surfaces like indoor flooring and cement.

Kubb semi-hidden behind the stake. Photo by Phil Dickinson

A kubb can’t be raised in with stake. Photo by Phil Dickinson

Kubbs inkasted against the stake as a backstop. Photo by Phil Dickinson

Same kubb can be raised in without stake. Photo by Phil Dickinson

If you are a tournament director, decide what works best for you. If you are a player, you’ll have to adjust back and forth between the two formats and hone your skills to adapt. Which format do you prefer? Tell us in the comments.