Friday, May 29, 2009

Kubb! A new hobby for me...

Guess what I did last weekend....What, no clue? I'll tell ya... I went Kubbing! (pronounced Koobing) And no I'm not trying to say Clubbing! =)

Kubb is a Swedish game that is now reaching international status. The game didn't catch as much in Canada but it is slowly growing again and hopefully we will see more people playing it in the future. There are a few variants that can be found online.
Above: all the parts needed to play Kubb

A little while back I was looking for more games to make and I found one, completely by accident mind you, that is mostly played outdoors but can be played indoors as well. I was looking more for a board game but my curiosity got piqued. I saw pictures of it being played on grass, sand and even parking lots! From the youngest to the oldest can play it and it can last from 5 minutes (like I found last time I played!) to at least an hour, if not more.

The picture above shows the set up of the game.

To figure out who starts, you can use the traditional flip of a coin or any such method. The object is simple yet can be hard to achieve; you need to knock your opponents Kubb (the 5 pieces standing at each end of the field, see picture above) with one of the 6 Sticks provided for that purpose (bottom right, again, see above picture).

Above: fully decorated set of Kubb

You must bring down all your opponent's Kubbs before you can go for the King. Once the King (biggest playing piece, the one in the very centre) is down, the game is over. Just keep in mind that if you make the King fall before you're supposed to, you lose!

Above: Proof that Kubb can be played anywhere!

Now what got me exited about the game is this one rule; after you knock down one of your opponent's Kubb, they must throw it on your side of the field, where you raise them up and then they try to knock it down themselves. That means if they miss, you get to throw your Stick from the closest Kubb to the King they failed to bring down!

Above: People playing Kubb in winter! Notice the young woman is
throwing the Stick from a Kubb the opponents did not knock down.

One good tip; Try to place your opponent's Kubb close to the King to make it difficult for them to hit it. The closer to the King the better I found.

Above: Swedish students playing Kubb with...Logs!

I strongly encourage you to look into this game. It is not expensive, can have up to 12 players, from a low age to an high age. What could be more fun on a nice day with friends and family then to have a good time?


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why do I make board games...

...was a question that was asked of me today at my super-secret daytime working place. Ok, maybe not so secret. I just don't want to tell. *grin*

So this co-worker of mine turns to me and asks me that question. He knows I'm pagan, more specifically a follower of Norse traditions, but he didn't get why I enjoy making wooden board games, thinking that I was mostly about worshiping and such... Well I just explained to him quickly the reason behind it; it's fun to make them play them and share them!

My first commission for a board game, a Tafl Board!

Yes, worship is important to me, but there is more in life then that. I value traditions, especially older ones, that can bring people together for good reasons. One of these is playing games. My father started me early playing Chess before I actually learned to play Draught. Then it was Backgammon. In school and college, I advanced, so to speak, to other types of games like Reversi, Go, Stratego, Risk, Axis and Allies, and many more from there.

Now I find that a lot of people around me have forgotten to slow down and relax and just be with people without watching television/movies or playing World of Warcraft and the like on their computers. From time to time, me and my wife get a game of backgammon going, with the lights turned down a bit and a glass of red in our hand. Granted I'm told I'm very lucky on my doubles but hey, fair's fair, right?

When I can convince her to play it with me, we play Tafl, a viking board game for 2 players, where one player attacks and the other defends. The rules are simple but the strategy is fiendish; The attacker has twice the amount of tokens then the defender. All the pieces move like a rook in chess. Sounds simple, right? Well it's not! LOL My wife, I'm pleased to say, can beat me fairly regularly at that game! And I'm considered an intermediate by most folks I play the game with. Why I like to make this one is because vikings would play it often in the long winters and the bigger boards (18x18 squares, also known as Alea Evangelii) could take a few days to play!

A portable Nine Men Morris Board I made,
with runes in the playing spaces.

Another game I like to play (and teach to others when I vend at fest, I'm always up for a game!) is Nine Men Morris. There are many version of this game, but my favorite is the Nine Men one. I do make smaller the versions for kids (3 men Morris, Trip-Trap-Troll, Tabla Lusoria, pictures to come in a future blog, I promise!) so they can learn to play the game, sometimes with the help of their parent. It uses simple rules and can be played anywhere and even young ones can get quite proficient at it. One of the variants a friend introduced me to is using Runic dice, which are sometimes used by some people to practice divination. It throws a nice twist in the game, to say the least.

Details of a recently comissioned Tafl Board

In the near future, I'll be making a bigger variety of board games. I especially want to start making them with more then just pyrography (woodburning), I want to use inlay, staining and other means to get different looks. This will also allow me to customize a lot more then what I did in the past.

Well that's it for now... Just be patient and keep looking, you'll see more coming and not just on what I make! I'll try to make an effort to talk about other things as well!