Kubb is a Swedish game of unknown origin. A game that involves throwing
chunks of wood at other chunks of wood and comes shrouded in mystery
like some masked Mexican wrestler . . . you can see how it would be
impossible for ZK to not pick it up and run with it.
The game is almost perfect as it is, and so there is little difference between traditional Kubb and ZKubb. We shall highlight those differences in the ZKubb Rules section. But first, you're going to need a ZKubb set!
A note about wood and measurements:
Wood: Kubb sets available commercially are made of pine. Pine is soft, and is used by elves. The finishing 3x3s we found were not only pre-cut to our desired dimensions, they are available in Oak. Oak is hard, and favored by dwarves. This is a hard game. If you want your pieces to survive, buy Dwarven Oak. Elves are pansies.
You can get your dowel in many wood types, but again, choose something hard if you want it to last. We use an 8" closet pole, which came in either Ash or Hemlock I believe. Not Pine. The thinner dowel needed doesn't really matter as it only sticks into the ground.
Once you have made the laborious decision about wood types and sizes, you are ready to proceed. We're going to refer to the lumber used to make the kubbs as 3x3s regardless.
That's really all you need. If you wish to further identify your King beyond its taller stature, we suggest KingBling of some sort. A crown would be a good starting place.
Starting at one corner, take 5 of your kubbs and place them equidistantly along one short side, ending at the next stake. Do the same on the other short side of the rectangle with the other 5. Place the king in the middle of the field:
One representative from either team takes TheWhiskey and pours a modest measure over the head of the King. This is a show of respect for his Soon-To-Be-Deposed-Majesty, and a small apology for the fact that you will be throwing wood at him. Larger volume libations may be offered in an effort to inebriate the regent, thus making his ultimate downfall easier. Commonly, while whichever team is going first prepares themselves and checks meterological conditions, the other team takes care of this ceremony.
Custom suggests the two teams should also share a sampling of The Whiskey together, but not before the King has had his share.
The team going first stands at the baseline of their side of the field, sticks in hand. Each stick is jettisoned in turn at the kubbs aligned along the opponent's baseline, in an attempt to overturn them. These throws must me made with an underhand motion, and the sticks must tumble end over end. No stick may be thrown with a hoizontal rotation, akin to the blades of a helicopter.
If no kubbs are knocked over, the sticks are collected, and Team 2 stands at their baseline, and returns fire, trying to knock over Team 1's kubbs in the same manner as above.
If at the end of Team 1's first salvo of sticks, Team 1 has knocked over one or more of Team 2's kubbs, Team2 retrieves the fallen kubbs in hand, stands at their own baseline, and throws the kubbs into Team 1's half of the field (demarcated by the king). If these kubbs land inside the field, Team 1 stands them up wherever they have landed. If the kubb should come to rest outside of the field, it is returned to Team 2 for a second throw. If a kubb lands afoul two times in a row, Team 1 takes the kubb and places it anywhere in their half of the field they choose, as long as it is no nearer than one sticks length from the king.
If a thrown kubb knocks over an opposing kubb on the baseline, the baseline kubb is returned to its normal position, and the thrown kubb is rethrown, as if it had landed out of bounds.
If a kubb contacts another thrown kubb in the field, the two kubbs are uprighted, and stacked on top of each other into a tower, at the location of the 1st kubb that was struck by the flying kubb. It is possible for more than one kubb to make contact, and thus build larger towers. Functionally, a 3 kubb limit of height on towers is reasonable, though players may mutually agree to larger towers if they can be balanced.
Once all overturned kubbs have been jettisoned into the opponents forecourt, and uprighted by the opposing team, Team 2 then takes its turn throwing the sticks. When there are kubbs foreward in the field, all field kubbs must be knocked over before Team 1's baseline kubbs can be attacked. If a baseline kubb is knocked over by accident, it is returned upright to its place on the line.
Once Team 2 has thrown all 6 sticks, Team 1 polices up the overturned kubbs as before and throws them into Team 2's half of the field. If any field kubbs are left standing in Team 1's field that Team 2 failed to knock over on the previous turn, when they proceed to throw their sticks, Team1 may move up to a line marked by the kubb closest to the mid-line, thus making the distance they have to throw at Team 2's kubbs much shorter.
Play continues following the above sequences until one of two conditions is met:
Shots at the king must always be taken from the baseline, even if the team taking the shot has been throwing from a forward line marked by a field kubb for that turn. They must return to the baseline before making an attempt at regicide.
As your skill increases, so might strategies change. We find when on the defensive it is often desireable to place any kubbs that have landed foul at or near one's own baseline to make the longest shots possible for the opponent. In doing this it can become unclear which kubbs are field kubbs resting on the baseline, and which are original un-toppled baseline kubbs, especially if you have been partaking of TheWhiskey as suggested. Consider decorating your kubbs with asymetric designs! Not only does it make a ZKubb game look great, but you can keep all baseline kubbs with one common color oriented skyward, while field kubbs can be stood up with the opposing color upward, to make it clear which are which.
If you and your fellow ZKubbers notice your games being of unsatisfactorily short duration, perhaps you have become too skillfull in chucking wood and need to adjust the game accordingly. One of the easiest way to challenge your skill would be to enlarge the playing field a few paces in each direction.
In some circles the opening throw of sticks is limited to only 4 instead of 6, thus ensuring that the team who goes first cannot get too far ahead, or possibly even win before the 2nd team has a chance to attack the first team's kubbs. Subsequent stick barrages are all done with the full brace of 6. One could also envision an I-Go-You-Go method where sticks are alternated between teams, thus at the end of the first round it is likely that both sides will have overturned kubbs that need to be launced back to the opponents' field.
Astute readers may notice that unlike Anarchy Bocce, or GTHC Pickleball, ZKubb is much more static. One does not roam the earth throwing balls, nor is it a running and sprinting game. In accordance with the 1st law of thermodynamics, there is bound to be excess energy hovering about a ZKubb pitch during a series of games. A moderate amount of this energy may be tempered with judicious applications of The Whiskey, however this can frequently backfire and create a feedback loop of ever more energy.
This situation can be mediated through confrontation. While ZK activities generally encourage kindness, respect, and sportsmanship, ZKubb presents an inherintly fertile ground for verbal dueling, scathing quips, and the well timed bon mot. Given the heritage of the game, and the dearth of opportunities in the 'real world' to flaunt one's knowledge of Norse Mythology and Viking Culture, jibes, curses, and expletives should be both frequent, and in an appropriate idiom whenever possible.
If you prefer more explicit methods of expressing displeasure and derision, with the safety of doing it in a language no one near you is likely to know*, we offer this brief lexicon of Swedish vulgarity. (not family safe!)
*not applicable in Sweden
It is said that one will catch more bees with honey, and these are wise words. It is equally important to praise worthy feats, as it is to intimidate and chide.
In this same ideomatic spirit, one might substitute high potency Mead or Ale in place of TheWhiskey, ideally served in the hollow horns of cattle. Prizes for competition might well include viking helmets, trophies fashioned after Thor's hammer, or a ceremonial pillaging of the losing team's village. Team captians are encouraged to bind skilled players to their cause with ritual oath taking, and community bonds should be forged with gift giving and plunder-rich bribery.