Punting: A Legitimate Kubb Strategy?

In football, if you don’t get a first down in your first three plays, then you will more than likely punt the ball to the other team. Ideally, this forces the other team to start their drive deep in their own zone, with more yards to go to score points.

But I know what you’re thinking. Punting? In Kubb? What in the world is that? Punting is the name that some members of Kalamazoo Kubb gave to a strategy Michael Economy vehemently lobbies his teams to use. His strategy was to not toss field kubbs back just beyond the 4 meter mark, but to toss kubbs deep into your opponent’s zone. Now this isn’t a strategy he implements at every turn, but he has key times in the game where he wants to discuss punting.

In the image below, the blue kubbs show a typical spot a team’s inkastare would drill his kubbs. They are grouped together and as close to the center line as possible for a shorter throw. The red kubbs show how the other team might “punt” and keep the kubbs deep in their opponents zone. If they cannot knock down these field kubbs, then the opponents only move up a few feet instead of moving up potentially 4 meters.

Diagram of kubb gameplay.The first time we discuss punting is when we get more than 3 kubbs in play. He will routinely ask the inkastare if they feel good about grouping them. Then, if a kubb or two skips, bounces, or in any way goes astray, we must discuss our options. Do we feel good about getting those field kubbs down now that they are not grouped? Should we try to group remaining kubbs, try to throw them in a spot to make it a group, or should we toss our remaining kubbs deep just in case we cannot down the kubbs with have already thrown? These are all things our team must discuss, resolve, and decide what gives us the best chance of winning. If we leave kubbs standing on a turn and our opponent does not finish us off on their own turn, then you can bet the farm Mike will make us discuss punting.

His view is very simple, you should never allow your opponent to move up. If this must happen, you make their advantage as minimal as possible. The team our club sent to the U.S. National Kubb Championship last July took huge advantage of our opponents not listening to his advice. Until we played Kubb’d for a spot in the top 16, we had not won a game from the back line. We had dominate wins, we had wins we just squeaked out, but they all came after our opponent gave us an advantage line.

Now I’m not really going to ask if this is a legitimate kubb strategy. I think we all know it is. I’ve seen it used at the two tournaments I attended in 2014 and we’ve all seen Eric Anderson talk about it in his YouTube videos. My question is, can this be used to help you win games?

I’ve been very anti-punting in our club. I’ve been known to mock its wisdom and to make fun of those who use it. You see, in the games we’ve played in our backyards, in our city parks, and in tournaments, I rarely see it help you win games. What it is very good at is extending games. I’ve seen it used to earn a tie or partial points in tournaments with time limits. But in a world where the top inkastare’s can drill an awesome group just 4 meters away, how can a winning strategy be to put them farther away?

My response is always the same when it comes to discussing whether a team should punt. To win consistently at kubb you must group them well and take only a couple batons to knock over your group. If you can’t do that, you can’t win. You can punt, but if you do, you are only prolonging your defeat. If I’m going to lose, I’m going to lose on my terms. I want to lose because I couldn’t group them or I couldn’t blast effectively. I get up to two throws at each kubb to get them as close as possible, and that’s how I win or lose. Perhaps I’m jaded because I’m the usually the inkastare and I’m the first blaster. How dare you think I can’t make that shot!

Kubb is about adjusting to your game and to your opponents. So the truth in this debate is probably somewhere in the middle. But I’ve often wondered if there are people out in Kubbnation that have had this same debate. Do you use the punting strategy? Is it effective for you? How do you decide when it’s time to punt? Please join the debate, we’d love to hear from you.