Hnefatafl and Tablut

Overview
Tafl games are a family of ancient Germanic and Celtic asymmetric two-player board games played on an odd-sized square board.  Hnefatafl is a Scandinavian variant of the game played on an 11x11 or 13x13 board.  Tablut is a Sami (Lapland) variant played on a 9x9 board.

Board
The game is played on an odd-sized square board.

The central square of the board is a special cell called the Konakis (throne).  The Swede king (light crowned piece) stands there at the beginning of the game, and is the only one who can visit this cell during the game.

Four corners of the board are special cells too.  They are the target cells for the Swede king and like the Konakis can be visited by the king only.

The swedish soldiers (light pieces) surround their king, protecting him.

The Muscovites (dark pieces) are placed on the edges of the board.

Below are the starting positions for different variants of Tafl games:
Hnefatafl 11x11 Hnefatafl 13x13 Tablut 9x9

Objective
The objectives are different for each of the players:
  • Muscovites (dark pieces) win the game if they capture the Swede King.
  • The Swedes win the game if their King reaches any of the corner squares.

Moves
Players move alternately, one piece per turn.  The Swedes (light pieces) move first.

Any piece (including the King) may move any number of cells horizontally or vertically (but not diagonally) like the rook in Chess.

No piece may ever jump over another piece in its path.

In Tablut the soldiers may move over the Konakis but in Hnefatafl such moves are forbidden.

Only the King can stand on the Konakis and the corner squares.

If after a move the King reaches an edge of the board and has an open path to one of the corner squares, the player has to let the opponent know by saying "Raichi!" (like "Check!" in Chess).

If there are two open paths the player has to say "Tuichi!" (like "Checkmate!" in Chess), because it's not possible to close both paths in a single move.

If the King is in danger of being captured on the Muscovites' next move, he must say "Watch your King" to the Swedes.

Capture
Both player can capture their opponent's pieces.

If moving a piece (either an ordinary soldier or the king) ends up surrounding (occuping both adjacent squares in a row or column) an enemy piece between the moved piece and another of the player's pieces or a corner square, the surrounded enemy piece is removed from the board.

It is possible to capture several pieces in a single move.

Captures are only made when the move forces capturing, so a piece may be placed safely between two opponent pieces.

Swede captures both Muscovites


The capture of the King differs from the capture of an ordinary soldier.  There are four variants of capturing the King:
  • The King is captured when the four adjacent squares (vertical and horizontal) are occupied by Muscovites
  • The King is captured when three of the four adjacent squares (vertical and horizontal) are occupied by Muscovites and the fourth adjacent square is a Konakis.
  • The King is captured when it stands on the edge of the board and the three adjacent squares (vertical and horizontal) are occupied by Muscovites.
  • The King is captured when it stands on the edge of the board near the corner and the two adjacent squares (vertical and horizontal) are occupied by Muscovites.


Examples of capture the King

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