As in part one, Kubb On: Tour (Bryan Jones, Christopher Jones, Kyle Weakland) explains some of the European rules they came across, and their thoughts on them. Kubb On would like to preface this article reminding you that this is just their opinions on the new and different rules; the team is not saying anyone is right or wrong, just offering their thoughts and feelings on the rules.

Pulling Boundary Pins

Photo of player blasting with pin removed.

A player blasting with pin removed.

In all three tournaments we attended, you were allowed to pull any of the pins at any point if you thought they were in your way.

Bryan: Being a lefty, the pin rarely gets in my way so I found very few instances when I would want to pull a pin. One thing I did notice in Europe was that the end kubbs on the baseline were often put very close to the pin (as opposed to a baton length away) which sometimes would subconsciously get in my head going after those kubbs. But even then I prefer keeping the pins in because you may get a lucky bounce off the pin that helps you. Honestly, I could take it or leave it when it comes to pulling the pin.

Christopher: So good! When can we start implementing this?! It’s great! How many times has a defender stood a kubb 50 percent in, but behind a pin on purpose, just to make it a tougher shot? How many times have you hit that stupid stake and the baton just bounced back at you? These are completely unnecessary situations. Let’s all allow stakes to be pulled! People who love stakes can keep them in, and those who hate them can pull them. What’s the downside? Heck, throw in strings and you’ll easily know where to put the stakes back.

Kyle: This was another rule I really liked. If you like to inkast against the pin, you can leave it in and then pull it for blasting or keep it out the whole time. I like this rule especially when you’re playing with strings because you can still see the midline and you can easily determine if a kubb is in because the string is never removed. I give this rule two thumbs up!

Open with as many batons as you have players

At the Pfälzer Kubb Open, instead of a 2-4-6 or 3-6 open, the team that wins the king toss starts with as many batons as they have players followed by the team that loses the toss getting six batons.

Bryan: I don’t recall this rule affecting anything too much during my experience at this tournament. Most teams were three players so it often played out as a 3-6 open. I believe my team won the toss anytime we were up against a team of more than three players, so we didn’t really experience an unfair advantage for an opposing team in the opener. With that said, I do have a few thoughts about the concept.

I like that it lets every player have a turn right from the beginning, and from a teaching standpoint it would be easier for new players to follow this way of starting a game than a 2-4-6. I don’t like how it creates the possibility of an unfair advantage for a larger team against a smaller team. If a team of four to six experienced players got to have that many batons right from the start I find that a bit unfair against a team of three, especially in the case of a six baton opener in which a very experienced team could go six for six and win before the opposing team even had a turn. The likelihood of that happening is of course minimal, but this rule still leaves open that possibility. If I had to decide whether or not to use this rule I would probably not use it and stick to the 2-4-6 or a 3-6 to keep things consistent every game.

Kyle: This one is intriguing. I liked that it gave teams of four to six players a small advantage over the three player teams. I would like to try this out some more and get a better feel for it, but I could see this working out in the states. I also like that it is much easier for a new team to understand the start than a 2-4-6 open. Plus, everyone gets a baton to start the game instead of having to choose who has to sit out a turn.

Kubb with inbounds footprint but forced out is pushed in until it’s inbounds

If a kubb shares a footprint with another kubb that ultimately forces the kubb out, the kubb is shunted against the other and both kubbs are pushed in until the kubb is inbounds.

Bryan: I don’t remember us ever encountering the use of this rule. I think it is a good idea to find a solution for keeping those types of kubbs in, however I don’t know that this is the best way to do so. My concern is that the slide could be performed in a disadvantageous way if not done carefully. I also think it might be a rule that is too difficult to explain or understand unless it’s specifically encountered, therefore it may be more hassle than it’s worth if newcomers end up using more time to get outside help.

Christopher: I don’t recall witnessing this, so this is more of an “in theory” opinion. I like that it doesn’t penalize an inkaster for a kubb that is in-bounds—which is a real problem. I’m hesitant to say this is the right solution though. It still seems a little bit hard to explain to a newbie. Maybe after a few slide-ins it’s as second nature as shunting though. Does this slide affect other kubbs near the line? I need more experience and answers before I recommend this one.

Kyle: Since I inkast for most of the teams I play on, I have had quite a few times when I had a kubb with an inbounds footprint forced out, which can be very frustrating. This is a good solution to that problem. That said this is not the most uncontroversial way of solving the problem as it is not very cut and dry. I think it’s an improvement over our current rule and I would welcome it in our current ruleset.

Can shunt kubbs sharing the same footprint

Photo players raising kubbs.

Players choosing to shunt two kubbs.

At all of the tournaments in Europe, if two kubbs share the same footprint, you do not need to lift the kubb towards free space. If you feel it’s a benefit to you to shunt them, you can shunt kubbs together.

Bryan: I liked this rule. I appreciate that it gives you more choices and I thought it sped things up a bit when raising kubbs because there was not as much time spent figuring out which kubbs were going to be forced. I also found it brought a little more strategy into the game because sometimes it actually was in our benefit to shunt kubbs to create an opportunity for the blaster to lock up their pile.

Christopher: I enjoyed this. I think it helps simplify the raising of kubbs. The raising phase tends to be the most complicated part of the game, and anyway we can make that easier is a plus in my book. As a defender it’s nice to have more choices, and I think that outweighs the little bit of downside to a driller (less forced footprints).

Kyle: I thought our U.S. rules made it easier to raise kubbs, but I think if you give the defender more choices it makes raising kubbs much more straightforward and easier for a new player to learn. There can be a lot of puzzling to appropriately raise kubbs with the U.S. rules and this makes it way easier in my opinion. I also liked that you could give a team two easy doubles in some cases as opposed to a possible triple or quadruple.

No “flattening of kubbs”, just raise them how they lie

In Europe, when a kubb laying on the long edge, instead of flattening the kubb with gravity they raise the kubb on the corner.

Bryan: I know we flatten with gravity in the U.S. to take away the possibility of turning a kubb as it is raised, but I feel like raising on the corner didn’t pose as much of a problem as you may anticipate. In my experience anyway, if you just think of the corner as a hinge in the same way you do a flat edge then there is no issue. That said, not everyone is going to be as careful as we’d all like. I do like that it takes out the extra decision of which way gravity is (something that is not always as obvious to everyone). Overall I don’t feel strongly either way we decide to raise kubbs.

Christopher: Seemed pretty straightforward. I think the flattening in the U.S. was largely driven by the “hinge” concept for raising. Perhaps we’ve outgrown that? I don’t feel strongly either way, but occasionally as a driller that flattened kubb can roll to a side that messes up an otherwise beautiful group. It’s also one of the raising rules that can be ambiguous—flatten to gravity unless it’s out, or defense’s choice on a kubb laying perfectly equal. Maybe there is a slight advantage to the no flatten rule, but I’m not going to start petitioning a change.

Kyle: I’m a fan of flattening with gravity and after my experience in Europe, I still am. I feel like when a kubb is resting on the long edge and you try to raise it up, people can accidently turn a kubb as they raise it. The difference between blasting a kubb that is square to the baseline and diagonal to the baseline can completely change the way a pile will blast. Plus, if you know that a kubb should have or would have fell to one side without grass or kubb in the way I feel like we should definitely put it that way.

Everyone on the team drills

If you’re on the team, you have to take a turn inkasting in a rotation. This was the rule in both Germany and Switzerland.

Bryan: As someone who doesn’t normally inkast I wasn’t looking forward to this rule. I know it handicapped our team a bit, so that was a little disappointing that we could have played better had I not been required to inkast. Of course, I’m sure it helped to even out competition in some cases, and I do appreciate that it promotes more well-rounded players. I think we definitely had to strategize more as a team to figure out the best order for us to inkast, especially since your team is locked into the rotation for the each game. I don’t think the U.S. is ready for this rule just yet (and I certainly need more practice at inkasting first), but I wouldn’t mind seeing it adopted in the future.

Christopher: I think this is a definite way to take good competition to the next level. All too often a lesser team can make it far with really great drilling. I think this rule can be a great equalizer. That said, I think this rule can really discourage newer players. I’d like to see this in a few tournaments that are highly competitive—or better yet have competitive divisions—and leave it out of tournaments or divisions that are encouraging newer players. Throwing in your first tournament can be stressful enough without adding drilling to the mix.

Kyle: This is one of the rules I wasn’t so sure of going into our European experience but now I feel like this is one of the rules that we need to start implementing in the near future. The average player in Europe has a much better handle on inkasting than in the U.S. For most smaller U.S. tournaments, I don’t think this would work. The bigger and more competitive tournaments need to start considering this in the future though. It makes the games more intense and I felt like I strategized more with my teammates with this rule. It felt more like a complete team game this way and I enjoyed the wins a little more because I felt like we succeeded together.

Penalty kubbs are drilled from baseline

Instead of placing a penalty kubb, the other team must inkast the kubb where they want the kubb to go and then raise it.

Bryan: I don’t think this rule added anything to the game, but it did take away a bit of strategy from the defending team. I also wonder what would happen should the defending team throw the penalty kubb out of bounds. Would they get a rethrow? What if they do it again on that rethrow; would the kubb revert to a rethrow for the opposing team again? I think it is easier to just let the team place a penalty kubb where they wish.

Christopher: I lean towards letting the defenders choose a spot and place it there. There are very few times that a defender truly has an opportunity to defend, and by making them drill a penalty kubb, you’re eliminating that chance. Especially in tournaments using the neighbor rule with a “place anywhere” award kubb, I feel the penalty kubb should also get the same treatment.

Kyle: I wasn’t a huge fan of this coming into my experience and my mind hasn’t changed. I think it’s unnecessary and adds an extra step to the game the really shouldn’t be there. I think with the neighbor rule becoming so popular that these two rules should mirror each other. Throw a penalty kubb, then the defender places it where they want. Throw a neighbor, place it where you want.