The king toss, or lag, is how most kubb games are started. A player from both teams stand at the baseline across from each other and after a count (usually of three) they throw a baton at the king. The player who’s baton lands closest to the king is determined the winner of the lag. If a player’s baton knocks over the king, that player automatically loses the lag.
The official U.S. National Kubb Championship rules state:
Once both teams agree on an accurate setup of the pitch, sides and order are determined by the following rules:
- Each team chooses one player as a representative and selects a baton.
- The two representatives stand behind opposing baselines facing each other.
- One or both count to 3; on 3 they each throw a single baton according to the
- rules for throwing batons—see Sec II.B below.
- 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.
- The baton may touch the king, but cannot knock it over.
- 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.
- On the second and third games of a match teams switch sides and throwing order.
- For any disagreements on initial baton or side selection, a random method (ex. coin flip) can be used to determine.
- Play then continues to the baton throwing phase.
Of note, it is permitted to touch the king, as long as it does not result in the king falling. If both player’s batons are the same distance, a second toss will be had.
The winner of the toss gets the option of choosing start order, or choosing a side. For example, Team A wins the toss, they may opt to go first, which would allow Team B to pick a side of the pitch. Alternatively, if Team A wins the toss, but opts to take a side, Team B can choose to go first. Basically whatever the winning team chooses (order or side), the losing team gets to choose the opposite.
At the World Kubb Championship in Sweden, they have recently adopted a new rule for the lag. It no longer is the closest baton, it is now the closest baton end. This means even if the side of one baton is touching the king and the other baton is a few centimeters away, that non-touching baton would be determined the winner if its end is closer to the king. See the example below.