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Thalla Rothach
United States
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I just looked over the entry for Daldos and found it a bit too sparse. The editor gives a link to the Danish rules and a wikipedia article, which I also found rather sparse, despite using the Board Games Studies Journal as a resource. Whoever wrote that article definitely didn't give readers the whole dope, having read vol. 4 of B.G.S.J. What I find neglectful is the omission of the Sami variants of the game, called Sahkku, which make the game more intense and exciting. I shall be commenting on and referencing the article "Sahkku, The 'Devil's Game'", by Mr. Alan Borvo, pp. 33-52 of the journal previously mentioned.
In this game, a 'king' piece is used, an elaborately carved affair that is placed in the center of the board. It is not activated like the regular pieces but comes into play when it is possessed by the player who lands on it (by this mechanism the controlling party changes throughout the game). In this instance Mr. Borvo's otherwise detailed rules come up short because he doesn't say what happens to the piece that lands on the king: is it put off to the side, placed back on the home row, or jumped over to the nearest space? Having played this version, I feel that it's best if the piece goes to the nearest space. The King is a most powerful piece, causing a severe upset to the game for it can move in any direction, being that a straight line, not diagonal nor making right turns. If a roll of '2' is cast, and the King is in a home row, it can cross to the opposite home row without having to circle around the track like the other pieces.
Regarding the King's 'Sons', Mr. Borvo admitted he had no idea how they were used, having found no surviving use of them in his researches. He only knew that two were used, most likely one to a player, and that they were placed on the central row, on either side of the King. Depending on the size of the board, they could be anywhere from three to five spaces away from the King. Being devoted to my ancestral roots, I took it upon myself to figure out what they were for. Having set up the board, it became immediately obvious to me that the Sons would not have been added unless they provided some kind of advantage for the players. I suddenly recalled another Sami game, brought to the light of the world almost accidentally in 1892-Dablot Prejjesne, which also makes use of King and Son pieces. In this game, the King can kill any piece, the Son can kill other Sons and any Men, and the Men can only kill themselves. However, in this game all pieces can move any which way, but I figured that in Sahkku the killing hierarchy was the same. So it was just a matter of how they moved. Since on some boards, these Sons are rather close to each other and theoretically, in the first roll of the game, a player could use his Son to kill the other, I felt that the Sons would want to easily get away from each other at the outset. So they don't need to be activated like the normal pieces, but in order to keep the game a little fair, I decided that a Son could not be moved unless a player had activated at least one of his Men. Furthermore, in lieu of these pieces being advantageous, outside of being unkillable by Men, and having the feeling, as I said, that the Sons would want to avoid each other early in the game, I decided that their main benefit would be the ability to move forwards and backwards on the line they were on, though still needing to move around the track.
So that is the game I played one evening while my mother watched ancient musicals in the background. The games ended much quicker and required more strategic thinking to avoid being killed by these powerful pieces. I like my reconstruction, and I hope anyone who is interested in ancient board games will also try it and like it. If you need me to clarify anything just say so, or if you think you have a better idea as to how a Son moved, you can say that as well.Daldøs
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