If you have spent any amount of time with author of “Kubb Remastered,” Phil Dickinson over the last five years, you will know that he talks about kubb… a lot. Whether it’s on the pitch during a friendly, catching up on the phone, or yes, coming out of general anesthesia at the hospital…nowhere is off limits to talk about kubb. In Early 2016, I agreed to play in a winter kubb tournament in Minneapolis. I’m from Kalamazoo, Michigan and Phil agreed to pick me up and drive me out there and back. It’s an eight and a half hour car ride one way. Of that 17 hours total drive time, maybe 10 minutes were spent on non-kubb related conversation.
Few people in this world are as obsessed and driven to consume everything about kubb as much as Dickinson is. He authored “Mastering Kubb” in 2016 and it covered anything and everything related to kubb. There was so much content that there would be no way Dickinson could write a sequel. If you thought that, you’d be wrong. He didn’t waste much time gathering new information for his new book, “Kubb Remastered.” If “Mastering Kubb” is the basics of how to play, then “Kubb Remastered” is the deep-dive analysis into the game. It will bring your knowledge and skills of this great game to another level.
“Kubb Remastered” is a hefty book at 284 pages long. As expected, you are certainly going to find kubb knowledge about the rules of the game, as well as an analysis of the critical components of the game. Dickinson covers 8 meter sniping, inkasting, defending, and 4 meter blasting—but this is only the beginning. This book also takes you on a long, winding road of considering strategies and techniques, teamwork, the mental game, variations and contests, what’s happening on the world scene, and U.S. clubs and tournaments. You’ll also find out how to make your own kubb set, learn the kubb slang, and laugh at some of the quotes Phil’s heard used around the pitch.
The book begins with a foreword by John Oman of Chaska Kubb, where he gives an introduction to what the reader is about to uncover in its pages. Dickinson has a lengthy preface where he explains the purpose of the book, how he has changed his game since 2016, and what the sport has done in his life. In the chapter titled Kubbology, he reviews the rules, unusual situations that might come up, and explores controversial topics and different interpretations. From there, each chapter covers each skill in depth, exploring different strategies around each skill to help you improve your game. There is a wide variety of ideas in the chapter on defending, a skill that incorporates a lot of delicate decisions the defense has to make to force the attacking team to use more batons to clear the pile.
In many ways, this is an individual sport to improve the physical and mental game, but knowing how to improve as a team is critical to success as this is how this game is mainly played. You’ll find this carefully covered in the chapters titled Teamwork and the Mental Game. In chapter 12, you’ll find more than 50 practices and skill builder games (many featured in the Skill Builder Wednesday series) unduplicated from the wide array of games he listed in Mastering Kubb. You’ll also find a good selection of variation games, competitions, and contests you can play so you are not always practicing the same way. Dickinson challenges you to push yourself, practice critical components of the game, yet keep it fun and fresh. In the chapter on the world scene, he describes a fictional story of the World Championship in the future being covered by a major TV broadcast. He gives his experience playing in Gotland at the World Kubb Championship in 2018. He describes the kubb culture and how it transcends countries in similarities. In Chapter 15, there is a wealth of information about United States clubs and tournaments with ideas of how to be successful at each. The book ends with kubb slang and quotes to make you smile.
Dickinson would be the first person to tell you that he didn’t write this book alone—he gives credit where it is due for all the content he has collected from the kubb community. In the three years since “Mastering Kubb” was written, he has gathered the best ideas from his kubb friends which must have amounted to miles and miles of sticky notes.
In the spirit of the worldwide motto, “kubb unites people,” Dickinson has collaborated with a good kubb friend, Paul Knutson, of Chaska, Minnesota, to include original drawings. These illustrations can be found at the beginning of several chapters and also on the front cover. Knutson works with pastel art and specializes in kubb themes. He understands the game and has been playing it since about 2014. He also has a creative hand in developing a rule variation called The Neighbor Rule, which has been officially adopted at many tournaments and backyard friendly games around the United States and Europe.
“Kubb Remastered” is a testament to how Dickinson has immersed himself in the sport. Yes, he practices a lot and attends a variety of tournaments every year, but more than that, he’s making connections with other players. He understands the game is more than winning and losing; it’s about the kubb community. It’s about long lasting friendships and the feeling of family, teaming up with other players, and the importance of good sportsmanship. It’s about encouraging your opponent to win while you’re trying to prevail yourself. Kubb Remastered reminds us of the importance of all this when we meet on the pitch.
Do you want to remaster your game? Kubb Remastered will help you do it. I give it five stars. There’s no part of the game left untouched. There’s a wealth of information between these two book covers. There’s something in it for everyone, no matter the skill level or experience. The content in this book proves that kubb isn’t just a game, but is widely considered a sport by those who play it. Kubb is the fastest growing yard game in the world—maybe one of the best yard games ever invented—and “Kubb Remastered” will only help take it to new levels.