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Subject: "Viking Game" Version of Hnefatafl: Can you capture the king with a corner square? rss

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Trevor McDowall
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In a recent game it looked as if the pesky king {K} would escape yet again, he moved down from above to the space next to the lower right corner {X} so that the the corner of the board looked like...


....
....
.AKX


Then I noticed I had an attacker {A} poised above the King and moved it down...


....
..A.
.AKX


... so the King was surrounded on all four sides (including the edge of the board. Does this count as a victory or will the next move mean victory for the defender? Or to put it another way, are the corners allowed to capture only the 'pawns' but not the King?


 
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Andy Burgess
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Id say in this situation the King wins. I can't see an interpretation which says that he can be blocked by a space that he can otherwise move into. Likewise, he can't be blocked by the middle square of the board.
 
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Trevor McDowall
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MercifulBiscuit wrote:
Id say in this situation the King wins. I can't see an interpretation which says that he can be blocked by a space that he can otherwise move into. Likewise, he can't be blocked by the middle square of the board.
I take it the King can go into the 'throne' at the centre and he can be taken if SURROUNDED by the throne and three orthogonal attackers (dark pieces). Which is practically the same as being surrounded by the corner exit, the edge of the board (which we know is hostile to other pieces at least) and 2 orthogonal attackers.

I know it doesn't thematically make a lot of sense but then it doesn't really make sense that a throne is equivalent to a fourth vicious viking assailant.

The rules talk about the corners being able to capture a piece without excluding the king from the discussion. So that is the justification I could give.

My copy of the rules says "5. It is also possible to capture pieces blocking the corner squares" and gives an example of a defender capturing an attacker using the corner square. It doesn't specifically mention the possibility of attackers capturing defenders in the same way but I think that they can. Likewise you'd think the taking of the King in a similar way would be mentioned or ruled out but it is not.

As if that wasn't bad enough my copy of the rules doesn't even mention the possibility of the king being taken by 3 attackers and the edge of the board but I'm sure that is possible. Just that he is captured by 'boxing in on four sides'. I'm just wondering if the corner square counts as a fourth side for the king. Lets face it, the attackers could use some help!
 
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Moshe Callen
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In that case, yes, the king is captured against the corner.
 
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Trevor McDowall
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whac3 wrote:
In that case, yes, the king is captured against the corner.
I have the 'History Craft English Edition' sometimes referred to as the 'past-times edition' called "The Viking Game". But I'm not particularly bothered about that specific ruleset: if there is such a thing as a definitive Hnefatafl (11x11) ruleset I'd like to know the answer for that. It seems that the Nestor Games version is similarly hard to rule on.

The answer to this may be house-ruled in every house without people even being aware of it! So I'll throw it out there: How do *you* play it?
 
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Andy Burgess
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Ok, so I play it like i said above. And like I said, I also wouldn't have the King captured using the middle square. In fact, I'm not sure that the King can be "captured" at all, in the same way that the King is never taken in chess. All you can do is block him from moving - do that, and you win. Don't do that and you lose.

The only thing is, as you already pointed out, that might make it too hard to win playing as the other side. The rules that I have do acknowledge this, though, with mention of playing several games alternating sides, or of effectively gambling to see which player can have the King escape in the fewest moves.

As I understand it, though, we don't (and can't) have a definitive rule set, as it's been lost to history, which is kind of a shame. Although probably at the time, the rules would have varied a lot from place to place anyway.
 
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Moshe Callen
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BoredGameGiik wrote:
whac3 wrote:
In that case, yes, the king is captured against the corner.
I have the 'History Craft English Edition' sometimes referred to as the 'past-times edition' called "The Viking Game". But I'm not particularly bothered about that specific ruleset: if there is such a thing as a definitive Hnefatafl (11x11) ruleset I'd like to know the answer for that. It seems that the Nestor Games version is similarly hard to rule on.

The answer to this may be house-ruled in every house without people even being aware of it! So I'll throw it out there: How do *you* play it?
Among the community of people who play tafl games, this is standard. Any space a player cannot occupy legally whether because it physically is not there or because the player's piece cannot occupy that space can be used like an occupied space when capturing the king on all four sides. In capturing any other piece, only unoccupiable spaces that do exist on the board can be so used. Thus, when the center of the board and/or corners cannot be occupied, these spaces can all be used in lieu of a stone to capture a piece. For pieces other than the king, this allows capture by a single piece. For the king, it allows capture by three pieces againstt the center of the board and by two pieces against a corner and therefore also against an edge.

See any of snigfarp's leaflet's on the tafl games.
 
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Damian Walker
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I have The Viking Game here. It doesn't mention that the king can be captured against the edge, or the edge and a corner. Neither can he be captured that way in the Fetlar and Copenhagen Hnefatafl variants that have been popular in tournaments. Which means that the king has effectively won if he reaches a square beside a corner.

Capturing him against the corner and edge is a popular house rule, and I remember years ago reading that NorseAmerica had adopted the rule in the sets that they sell, but I don't know how far my memory is to be trusted on that.

Personally I tend to avoid the issue by playing games where the king wins on reaching the edge; to maintain balance he's captured in the same way as other pieces, or captured on all four sides without the ability to take part in captures himself.
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Trevor McDowall
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snigfarp wrote:
I have The Viking Game here. It doesn't mention that the king can be captured against the edge, or the edge and a corner. Neither can he be captured that way in the Fetlar and Copenhagen Hnefatafl variants that have been popular in tournaments. Which means that the king has effectively won if he reaches a square beside a corner.
Ah, that is the problem, there is an awful lot that isn't mentioned in those rules and so interpretation is necessary, extrapolating from what is covered. I shall have to try it your way, I imagine it will be a faster game but I wonder, do the attackers stand a chance that way?

I quite liked the 'catch the king at the corner' variation I stumbled upon though my opponent didn't! It seems to me only fair that if other pieces can be captured that way then so should the king (with the extra effort he usually requires -a 2D capture rather than a 1D capture). I've quoted above my reasons for thinking such a capture might be legal. However we'd like to play it as the community does but clearly it is divided. I shall also have to read these variants you've mentioned, in the hope of finding a clear unambiguous ruleset that is preferably harmonious with the way I have been 'taught'.
 
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Trevor McDowall
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snigfarp wrote:

Capturing him against the corner and edge is a popular house rule, and I remember years ago reading that NorseAmerica had adopted the rule in the sets that they sell, but I don't know how far my memory is to be trusted on that.
At least now, NorseAmerica seem to sell the same version we have: 'The Viking Game'. Of course, I can't tell if the rules are the same'.
 
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Damian Walker
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BoredGameGiik wrote:
Ah, that is the problem, there is an awful lot that isn't mentioned in those rules and so interpretation is necessary, extrapolating from what is covered. I shall have to try it your way, I imagine it will be a faster game but I wonder, do the attackers stand a chance that way?
Given that the king is weaker, the chances even up. If the king is captured like other pieces, he can't go marauding around the board as freely, and it's easier to make certain areas unsafe for him to occupy. If you go down the route of making him weaponless, he has a bit more freedom of movement but can't be used to threaten the enemy; blockades will have to be broken by defenders before he gets there.

There are some stats at the site http://aagenielsen.dk/ that show how the changes of rule affect changes of balance (specifically this page). "David Brown hnefatafl" uses the weaponless king, as does sea battle tafl, while tawlbwrdd and tablut use a king who is (usually, in the case of tablut) captured like other pieces.

I've got a set of leaflets for these variants at my hnefatafl site.
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