Kubb aka Viking Chess

One of the best things about Stockholm is the number of parks weaved throughout the city. It is easy to grab a quick bite and find a nice spot to sit and relax. During a day of exploration we came across a small park where some children were playing a game I didn’t recognize. From what I could tell there were two groups on either side, and they were taking turns throwing a wooden stick at their opponents row of… wooden rectangles. Clearly there were some game mechanics I was missing so I decided to find out what this game was and how it was played.

The game is known as Kubb (pronounced KOOB), aka Viking Chess. The history of Kubb is rumored to date back to the age of Vikings, although there has never been any actual evidence of this. The legend goes that Vikings, after conquering their victims would play kubb using their skulls and femurs.


Kubb is played with 1 King, 10 Kubbs, 6 throwing batons and 4 corner posts. The pieces are typically made from wood. The battlefield is arranged as in the picture below.

2 to 12 players make up 2 teams standing on either end of the battlefield. 5 kubbs are placed along each team’s baseline. Each team chooses a player to throw a baton towards the King. Whichever team lands the closest to the King without touching will attack first. The first team stands behind the baseline and tosses FOUR batons towards the second team’s Kubbs. The goal is to knock down as many Kubbs as they can.

Team 2 then must surrender any Kubbs which were knocked down before beginning their attack. Throwing the Kubbs one at a time into the first team’s battlefield, they are stood up to form Team 2’s front line, where they land. After this Team 2 commences their attack on Team 1’s Kubbs by tossing the batons. For the full set of instructions click here.

The positioning of the field Kubbs is very strategic and placed to protect the King. This is the reason the Game has been nicknamed “Viking Chess.” 

Although it has Nordic origins, today Kubb is played around the world. In the US a national tournament is held annually in Wisconsin, giving Wisconsin the official title of Kubb Capital of America.