(or how I learned to stop worrying and love the King)

 I built the set I learned to play on, so I guess I’ve been a kubb builder longer than a kubb player (a little over two years of each at the time of this writing) and during that time I’ve built, or helped to build, dozens of kubb sets. Things were a little rough going in the beginning since every website I found with directions seemed to have different dimensions for the pieces (it took a little while for me to find the official worldwide home of kubb at http://www.vmkubb.com) but eventually I settled on my favorite types of wood and where to buy it. I figured out my preferred way to turn out a set of official-sized kubbs & batons, but the King is another story altogether.

 

I was building what must have been my 9th or 10th set and I had just put the king blank on the table saw when I fundamentally shifted the way I looked at cutting the king. I realized that I had never built two kings the same way, and I don’t mean small discrepancies in execution, I mean I had never attempted the same design twice. What I had thought I was doing was trying to find my favorite design – something cool looking that wouldn’t be too hard to replicate, something that would become my “signature style” for the future sets I intended to make as gifts for friends & family. What I realized that day was that when I looked back on sets I had created in the past it was the differing king designs that set them apart and defined them, and I resolved to never repeat a king design.

 

Every kubb set should have a unique king. Kubbs and batons should be as standard as possible I think so the actual game play is similar from one set to the next, but while the kubbs named the game the king rules it, and he deserves to have his own identity.

 

I certainly don’t mean to discourage anyone from buying a manufactured set and I understand the argument for standardizing tournament kings (I don’t agree with it, but I understand it), but I think that if you do buy a set then the first thing you should do it to modify the king somehow and make him your own. Stain him, paint him (or let your kids do it), carve him with a dremel or a chisel, decorate him with decals, decorative head nails or pins… make him your own. There’s a pride that comes from knowing no one else in the world has a set exactly like yours – feel it.