“Kubb. K, U, B, B. It rhymes with tube.” This is probably the most commonly spoken introduction to kubb. It’s usually how a veteran player might answer the question “What is that game you’re playing?” This is really only the first step though. Soon you might be introduced to the actual gameplay. Perhaps you’re shown how to throw a baton, or inkast a kubb. There’s probably a lot of terms that kubb player will throw around while explaining the game to a newbie. Some of the more common lingo used to describe kubb is detailed below.
Obviously this is the name of the game, but it’s also the name of a game piece. The small, wooden blocks that a player is trying to knock down is called a kubb. These can also be referred to as blocks, or sometimes more generally, as wood.
This is the wooden dowel used to knock down a kubb (and eventually the king). Batons are typically cylindrical, but there are sets that have more hexagonal shaped batons. Sometimes batons are referred to as sticks.
The king is the biggest game piece. It stands in the middle of a pitch and is the last piece to fall. Knocking over a king too early, even by accident, results in losing the game. Think of the king as the eight ball in pool—you want to avoid it until the very end.
The pitch is the eight by five meter playing area. This is where all game play takes place.
Stakes mark the boundaries of a pitch. A stake is typically a slim piece of wood, but often times wooden pins, balls, or even screwdrivers will be used. Read more about different types of stakes.
An alternative to stakes, painted lines also mark the boundaries of the pitch. These provide a very clear indication of the pitch’s perimeter without adding any obstructions to gameplay. Read more about stakes versus lines.
There are two baselines in kubb. They are located on opposite ends of the pitch. This is where kubbs are initially lined up, and where players will have to stay behind for their throws (unless there is an advantage line). Sometimes players call this the back line.
The king toss, or lag, is how the starting team is decided. One player from either team stands on opposite baselines and on an agreed upon count (normally three), they throw at the king. The player whose baton is closest to the king, without knocking it over, wins. If the king is knocked over, the player responsible loses. The winning player, and their team, decide if they want to go first or second, or if they want to pick a side. The losing team gets the opposite choice. For example, Team Blue wins the toss and elects to go first. Team Red can then choose which side they want.
The 2-4-6 open is the most common way to start a game in the United States. This means that the first team to throw will only have two batons. The next team has four to throw. When it goes back to the first team, they have six batons, and for the rest of the game six batons are used. This is designed to prevent a team from winning on their first turn, and eliminate the need for an even amount of turns in timed matches.
The term inkast, borrowed from Swedish, refers to throwing the toppled blocks back into play. Inkasting, drilling, or serving are all ways to talk about this portion of the game. A person who is performing this may be called an inkastare, driller, or server.
While all kubbs are the same dimensions, their position on the pitch differentiates them. At the start of the game, all kubbs are placed on the baseline. These kubbs are then referred to as baseline kubbs, or collectively as the back row. Sometimes you may even hear them called eights, in reference to the eight meter distance from baseline to baseline.
Once a kubb has been knocked over, it has to be thrown back by the opposing team. When it is on the opposite side of the pitch again, it is called a field kubb. Any kubb not on the baseline is considered a field kubb.
If kubb is inkasted a second time and cannot be raised legally in bounds, it becomes a penalty kubb. The defensive team (the ones not throwing) can now place that kubb anywhere in bounds, as long as it is a baton length from the king or stakes.
When the neighbor rule is used, a kubb that is fully supported by other kubbs, and therefore elevated off the ground completely, the offensive (throwing) team can place that kubb anywhere that is legally in bounds. An award kubb is similar to a penalty kubb, but the offensive team gets to place it.
In the event that a team fails to clear one or more field kubbs at the end of their turn, they have left an advantage line. The opposing team can now “step up” to the closet kubb to the halfway line. This team may now throw from anywhere behind an imaginary line at that kubb. An advantage line may also be called a step up or a porch.