Tablut is a historical board game, the last remaining variant of games played by the ancient Norse and Celtic people. These board games had a few common themes: the attacking player outnumbers the defending player by 2:1. The defender's objective is to get their king to the edge of the board so they can escape. The attacker's goal is to capture the king.
We would know nothing of Tablut if it were not for Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus who travelled to northern Finland in 1732. The relatively isolated Saami people were still playing Tablut long after it had been replaced by chess in the rest of Scandinavia. Linnaeus recorded the game rules, but this caused future difficulties because he recorded them in Latin and left out a few details (including who moves first). As a result, the first English version in 1811 was rather poor. Attempts to fill in the blanks and resolve apparent contradictions led to a game that was somewhat unbalanced.
In 2010, Linnaeus' original man-uscript was published online and a set of workable and fair rules were standardized. I have included these in case anyone wants to take a shot at playing the same board game the Vikings played. I was introduced to Tablut as a mini-game within the computer game Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord.
1. Tablut is played on a board of 9×9 squares. If you have a piece of paper, pen, and some coins you can make a simple Tablut set.
2. There are 25 pieces: a king and his eight defenders (white), and sixteen attackers (black). These are placed in the shape of a cross as in the diagram.
3. The attacking side takes the first move.
4. Pieces move any distance in a straight line, not landing on nor jumping over other pieces on the board, nor moving diagonally.
5. No piece may land on the central square, called the "castle," not even the king once he has left it.
6. A piece other than the king is captured when it is surrounded on two opposite squares by enemies (not diagonally from each other). The king can pair up with a defender for the purpose of capturing attackers.
7. A piece may also be captured between an enemy and the empty castle.
8. When in the castle, the king is captured by being surrounded on four orthogonal sides (i.e., not at a diagonal) with attackers.
9. When stood beside the castle, the king may be captured by being surrounded on the remaining three sides with attackers.
10. Elsewhere on the board, the king is captured as other pieces.
11. If the king is in the castle and surrounded on three sides by attackers, and on the fourth by a defender, the defender may be captured by being surrounded between an attacker and the king.
12. The king wins the game on reaching any square at the edge of the board. The attackers win if they capture the king.
13. The game is a draw if a position is repeated, if a player cannot move, or if the players otherwise agree to it.
The Albert County League of Gamers is a group for people of all ages who live, or have lived, in Albert County and enjoy electronic and/or board games. www. facebook.com/groups/239016929561000