Today’s Skill Builder Wednesday focuses on baton efficiency and power blasting.

Four Baton Efficiency Game

This practice was designed by Robert Hickes of Morgantown, Pennsylvania (Keystone Kubb). It’s played in 10 turns using 10 kubbs. Each turn is a level with the following groups of kubbs in each level: two, three, four, five, five, six, six, seven, seven, and eight. The game begins with five kubbs on the baseline until round six, when some are pulled to establish the necessary groupings. A player inkasts the set number of kubbs for that turn and the kubbs are raised as a defender might do. Only four batons are used in the game. Once the field kubbs are cleared you can use any remaining batons to clear as many base kubbs as possible for one point each. However, if you don’t clear the field kubbs with four batons, you subtract one point for each one standing. This game puts a huge premium on the low numbers in the early turns to score points. After 10 turns, anything above par is a worthy goal. Blasters will benefit using this game to prepare for tournaments.

Four Baton Efficiency X-15

I added a variation to Hickes’s Four Baton Efficiency game. It’s a little harder than the original game. Instead of using 10 kubbs, I use 15. Five stay on the baseline in every turn (none get pulled to make groupings). Each round corresponds with the number of kubbs being played—one for the first round, two for the second, three for the third, and so on until you have 10 kubbs in the tenth round. Again, only four batons are used in the game. I find this one easier to remember how many kubbs to throw in versus the repetition of the numbers in the original game. Short of any baseline doubles, the perfect game is 30 points. That’s clearing every pile of kubbs with only one baton and getting three base kubbs in every level. A worthy goal is to stay at par or higher and not go into a negative score after 10 turns.

Punch Game (or Knock It Up)

I designed this punch game as a battle between players to drive field kubbs beyond their opponent’s baseline. The game begins by placing three kubbs horizontally on the centerline about two meters apart. There is no king in the game. Six batons are used with a 2-4-6 opening. Decide who starts by a lag at one of the kubbs. Players in this game attempt to knock the kubbs past the baseline for 1 point each. The opponent is trying to do the same thing across the opposite baseline. After a kubb falls in the opponent’s side of the pitch, the attacker may ask for the kubb to be immediately raised so further attempts can be made at driving it past the baseline. Or an attacker may wait until more kubbs fall down to ask for them to be raised. You will do the same for the opponent. The attacker raises kubbs in the near pitch, not the opponent. If a kubb goes out of bounds along the sideline, it must be brought in and stood up at the point of exit plus one baton distance. The strategy lies in knowing whether to use the batons to get points for kubbs that are nearly across the opponent’s baseline, or to move some kubbs away from your own baseline so the opponent won’t score points in the next turn. A player could use all batons on one kubb trying to get it across the baseline, or move all of them as far up the field as possible. There are many “short porch” shots in this game which is good practice. Add two more kubbs, if desired, to make the game go longer. It’s good to have an odd number like three and five because the game won’t end in a tie. The game immediately ends when someone gets a majority of kubbs past the baseline.

There are some great skills worked on during this game:

  • Adjusting the throw for short porch distances.
  • Trying to drive a kubb deep in a real game situation to get a baseline double.
  • Working the rotation of the baton to get more power.

Variation

Five kubbs are lined up at an equal distance along the centerline, but no closer than a meter from each sideline. Each player gets three batons. Both players are on the same baseline. A lag at one of the kubbs decides who goes first. Players alternate throws. When a kubb falls it stays on the ground until all six batons have been thrown. It’s okay to try and hit kubbs that have been toppled, especially if they are close to being across the baseline. This is good practice trying to hit a smaller target. Then all the kubbs not crossing the baseline are stood back up. Play continues in this manner until one player gets three kubbs across the baseline.