Have you ever wanted to play kubb but didn’t have anyone to go up against? Maybe you’ve wanted to see how you stack up to kubb players in cities, states, or even countries other than your own. Well, now there is a way to do just that—distance kubb!

Distance kubb is a new way to match up players from anywhere for a friendly game of the sport we all love; no matter the number of miles between them. The concept is fairly simple. Players use a video call to play against each other.

Photo of numbered and lettered kubbs.

Example of kubbs marked in the numeric/alphabetic system. (Photo courtesy of Phil Dickinson)

How does it work? There are a few simple rules to ensure successful gameplay. First, both players or teams need a device with a camera capable of doing a video call (smartphone, tablet, etc). This allows both parties to share their perspective of the game. Video calls can be held via an app such as Skype, FaceTime, or Facebook Messenger. In addition to a camera, the kubb sets that will be used need to be prepped with a marking system to help keep track of kubbs. Using a numeric/alphabetic system works well for this. Each kubb should be given a number (1 to 10) on the top half, and a corresponding letter (A to J) on the bottom half, as shown in the example image. You can write the letters and numbers on duct tape wrapped around your kubbs if you prefer not to mark on the wood.

Once both locations have their camera and kubbs ready, the kubbs should be set up in numeric order on the baselines (1 to 5 on one, 6 to 10 on the other). To see who goes first, a traditional king toss is done (using the same form of measurement at both locations helps with this). The winner of the king toss can then choose a side to start on or to toss their batons first. It is important to make sure both teams are aware which baseline they should throw at, otherwise there will be confusion once kubbs are down.

Gameplay proceeds as normal, except when a kubb is knocked down. When this happens by a team in one location, the same numbered kubb is taken from the baseline in the other location, and then inkast by that team on their turn. For example, if Team Blue knocks down kubb number 1 in their location, then Team Green takes kubb number 1 from the baseline in their location and inkasts it as a field kubb. After Team Green has inkast, Team Blue then dictates how to raise the field kubb by saying either the number or letter to determine which end of the kubb they want to raise; in this case it would be 1 or A.

Photo demonstrating batons as lines. Photo demonstrating batons as lines.

If any field kubbs remain standing after a team throws all of their batons, the opposing team must then place the corresponding kubb nearest to the middle line as accurately as possible to that kubb’s position in the opposing team’s location. This becomes their advantage line. For example, if Team Green leaves a line with kubb 1 then Team Blue will place their kubb 1 as close as possible to the position of kubb 1 in Team Green’s location. Team Blue then uses that as their advantage line.

The game continues in the same fashion throughout, and ends with a king shot just like in a normal match.

I had the chance to try distance kubb with Phil Dickinson, Joe Hrejsa, and JR Hrejsa from Great Lakes Kubb Club. After our test run we all had some feedback to help improve this format of play. Here are our tips:

  • Since distance kubb is done via video, the 100 percent rule makes it much easier to determine if kubbs are in bounds.
  • Players must play on opposite sides of the pitch just like in a regular game. Make sure this is clear after the king toss.
  • A consistent form of measurement is a good idea for accurately placing advantage line kubbs.
  • FaceTime worked better than Facebook Messenger in our experience.
  • Pairing your smartphone or tablet with a bluetooth speaker makes it easier to hear the other player(s).
  • A dedicated camera operator, who isn’t playing, allows the player(s) to focus on the game rather than try to juggle working the camera and throwing batons.
  • Painted lines help determine field kubb locations and make the 100 percent rule easier. A painted grid could make field kubb placement even more accurate.
  • If painted lines aren’t an option, you can use batons to help visualize where the lines would be when raising field kubbs.
  • Make sure you have a strong wifi or cellular connection to ensure your video quality is better. We had a few instances of video cutting out or getting pixelated during our test.

Peter Bergendahl, perhaps better known as Rekubblikanen Stockholm, from Sweden also shared a few tips for good camera angles. His diagram, shown below, points out some of the best spots to set up your camera if using a tripod. The diagram also shows an example of how to use batons to help visualize where the lines would be if you are using a pitch without painted lines.

Diagram of camera angles.

Diagram courtesy of Peter Bergendahl.

While distance kubb is still a fairly new concept for gameplay, it certainly has potential to become a game-changer in the kubb community. Staying true to the philosophy of kubb—kubb unites people and creates world peace—distance kubb is a great way to bring players from all over the world closer together. What are you waiting for? Get out there and give distance kubb a try! Be sure to share your experience in the comments!