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Re: Alea Evangelii 19x19

Posted: Tue Aug 05, 2014 10:40 pm
by Adam
This looks great! I've been away from the forum for a long while, glad to be back. I was going to suggest a new alea board set up using berserk rules and pieces, it looks like you guys have headed in a similar direction. I would tentatively suggest trying Copenhagen rules, if pieces can't jump, and berserk rules if some can, my logic being that on the 11x11 these rules work very well. I have other thoughts and suggestions for what the variegated men could be, though I agree now that they should be men, and not extra throne squares.

Re: Alea Evangelii 19x19

Posted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 11:22 pm
by Adam
SO after a long break from this, and much thought, here is my suggestion for an Alea game that might be 1) playable and 2)really good fun in spite of a potentially long playing time.

Put simply, its Aage's Berserk Hnefatafl applied to the Alea manuscript.

Originally I tried with the variegated men as throne squares, but I am persuaded by the language arguments here that these should be men. I rather hope 'variegated' a plausible translation because variegated means 'exhibiting different colors'

This presents an interesting way of helping white out at the beginning, being that they are otherwise hopelessly surrounded in Alea. Imagine these game pieces as Othello counters, black on one side, white on the other. When they are taken, they are flipped, like mercenaries who change sides the moment things look bad for the side they are on.

I have had to partly ignore the placing of the specially marked men, though not entirely. So, aiming to retain a four fold symmetry, and ignoring the temptation to create the more chess like two fold symmetry indicated by the gutters at the top and bottom of the board, Ive put in 8 black commanders, 4 white commanders. The white commanders are spearheading the escape across the earthworks of a trelleborg. (see my next post for an overlay of tafl boards on a viking trelleborg) The variegted men or 'mercenaries' we can imagine have just revealed their allegiance to white deep within the ranks of the enemy.

The primary man is a berserk knight. White also has a knight. Blacks commanders are placed strategically to defend the large corner exits.

The rules I propose are Berserk rules, provisionally including berserk moves. This will make for a nail biting game. Imagine letting the black knight get into that central formation, white would be wiped out! Likewise with blacks open formation. Berserk Alea promises to be a bloodbath from the start.

Most excitingly, if this proves to be balanced, its not difficult to see that the mercenaries could be decisive in flipping advantage from one side to the other during the game.

I should point out that I enjoy the other ideas proposed here for alternate pieces and simpler games, all worthy of testing. I think there is a good argument for my version having too many types of special pieces, but my logic is that the dukes and counts are the commanders and knights. The regular soldiers not seeming worthy of mention by the scribe, taken as read. I am also splicing this very much with the Bergen pieces that inspired berserk tafl. The variegated mercenaries seemed to solve problems rather than create them, hence their inclusion.

I look forward to any feedback!

Alea Evangelii 19x19

Posted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 11:30 pm
by Adam
Here, as I promised a long time ago, are some images where Ive overlayed tafl boards onto a viking trelleborg. I think its rather compelling. On the 11x11 it lends weight to the corner escape rule.

With Alea I find the match almost perfect with the groupings of longhouses in the centre. Here the board corners make less sense as exits of course, but one could think of them as reinforcements or safe havens.

Re: Alea Evangelii 19x19

Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2014 10:37 am
by Adam
I see my proposal has been viewed many times, I would love to hear if people think berserk alea is worth a try. Of course many of us are tied up in the Copenhagen tournament just now. Hopefully this thread will reignite after the tournament. I had a think about Plantagenets ogres or kjemper, with a vertical or horizontal taking move they would be impossible to attack, one would have to hope that the ogre placed himself next to a man while exposing himself to being captured. What if he could take like a pawn? A diagonal take. Even so, I suspect such a piece would make corners near impossible to defend. One would have to take out all the ogres to have any hope of winning. Worth a trial though.

Re: Alea Evangelii 19x19

Posted: Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:33 am
by Adam
In a bid to get this thread moving again, I am posting my outlandish suggestion for an Alea game. I find all the 'ordinary' versions of it unplayable, and feel sure that making it work will involve new pieces, with their own special moves. Therefore, using the alea text as my starting point for the number and placement of these special pieces, I propose using Aage's excellent Berserk pieces, the knight and the commander, and the berserk rules, along with one new piece which is my 'variagated man'. These pieces behave like normal soldiers, except they are black on one side, and white on the other, like an Othello piece. When taken, they are not removed from the board, but 'flipped'. Consider them hired soldiers, changing sides according to who pays the highest price.

The game promises to be a blood bath from the get go, far removed from the near deadlock presented in existing alea set ups.

Its no secret I am a fan of berserk tafl. But even so, much thought has lead me to the conclusion that a berserk alea is both logical, in the spirit of the written evidence, and worth a try. Alea looks like such a great game, but so far it has been found wanting. My hope is that berserk alea will deliver.

Re: Alea Evangelii 19x19

Posted: Tue Mar 31, 2015 12:43 pm
by Hagbard
Is the black piece in e13 a black knight?
There's also some special piece in j13?
The two special pieces could be reverse pieces? Knights are usually white, but there's one black knight? And commanders are usually black, but there's one white commander?

A GO board is 19x19, so the ideas can be tested on such a board.

If it functions, the name of such a game could be Alea Evangelii Berserk 19x19 (in short Berserk Alea, like Adam writes).

Re: Alea Evangelii 19x19

Posted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 4:57 pm
by Adam
Hagbard wrote:Is the black piece in e13 a black knight?
There's also some special piece in j13?
The two special pieces could be reverse pieces? Knights are usually white, but there's one black knight? And commanders are usually black, but there's one white commander?
e13 and j13, both knights. Marked by a double concentric circle.

Commanders on both sides, 4 white, 8 black, they are the pieces with a single circle inside. May prove too many, but i am following the number of specially marked pieces on the manuscript.

4 'variagated men'

I've used similar icons to the berserk icons, but given the knight an extra circle to distinguish from the commanders.

Re: Alea Evangelii 19x19

Posted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 5:07 pm
by Adam
If it works, we could even call it Alea Evangelii, being that no other version of it seems to make for a playable or satisfying game, or takes account of the indication in the text of a variety of board pieces (counts, dukes etc). But probably berserk Alea would stick as a name.

Here I'm uploading the original manuscript image again.

Re: Alea Evangelii 19x19

Posted: Sat Apr 25, 2015 11:09 pm
by crust
I would love to try this out, next time we're not separated by a big blue wobbly thing full of mermaids. Alea really needs this kind of kick up the backside - at the moment it is like watching paint dry. The berserk rules could be just the thing.

Re: Alea Evangelii 19x19

Posted: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:10 am
by Hagbard
Some thoughts on the Alea Evangelii 19x19.

Damian Walker shows an English paraphrase of a text in the Corpus Christ College manuscript describing the tafl game Alea Evangelii here:

Looking at the diagram and putting aside the religious gobbledygook, it can be noted that -

The board consists of 19x19 lines with pieces placed in line crosses.

The lines are abrupted in the board center, there's no line cross there.
Interpretation: The center point is a forbidden point, a throne.

The four outmost points of each board corner are marked with small points, "for the decoration" says the text. This is similar to some other old tafl descriptions, where "decorated" corners mark forbidden and hostile king's squares (the "decoration" symbolizes a soldier, which again symbolizes that the square is hostile). Here in Alea Evangelii it would be a 2x2 points forbidden and hostile area in each corner.

In a number of line crosses are placed game pices. They all look the same, just black dots, except for 4 which are drawn differently, and a third type of piece in the center (the king).
There are 65 simple black dots plus the 4 special dots plus the king in center. The text however says that it should be 67 simple black dots plus the 5 specials, alltogether 72 pieces.

A tafl game should have a multiplum of 12 pieces plus one king. For Alea Evangelii it would be 48 attackers and 24 defenders plus one king, alltogether 72 pieces plus king.

In tafl the defenders should be grouped around the king in center of the board. In the diagram you find there a group of 16 dots which should thus be 16 defenders. Left are 8 defenders to place on the board.

The "decorated" corners indicate that this is a corner tafl. From experience we know that the Alea is a difficult board for the defenders, and with the setups we tested it is next to impossible if the king even has to go all the way to a corner.
So, if the 4 special dots represent pieces with extra properties, extra power, then they should be allotted to the defenders.

Left are 4 defenders to place on the board. In tafl, initial ordering should be symmetrical. To keep the symmetry they can only be placed in the 4 dots in the center lines.

Now all defenders are placed on the board.
In the circle of dots around the center, 8 of the dots are now defenders, and the other 24 dots of the circle must be attackers.

Left are 24 attackers to place on the board. In the diagram it's seen that they're grouped in the four corners, that is 6 attackers for each corner.

For some reason, the diagram shows only 5 dots in the NE corner and 4 dots in the SE corner, and though the SW corner does show 6 dots, they're placed unsymmetrically.
Only the NW corner shows the expected 6 black dots and placed symmetrically as they should be.
So it's assumed that all corners should have 6 attackers placed as shown in the NW corner.

Now to the properties of the 4 special defender pieces. The Alea description is medieval and so chess was known with it's five types of officers. However Alea could have deeper roots back to the forerunner of tafl, Ludus Latrunculorum with its one officer, the dux. The Latrunculi dux is identical to the commander piece used in the Berserk Hnefatafl 11x11. That is, it can short jump over an enemy piece.

Now bring back the religious gobbledygook. The center piece, "the primary man", "the Unity of the Trinity", is of course the Good Lord.
The 4 special pieces are the 4 Evangelists, who have extra power and of course fight on the Lord's side and thus are defenders. They are "variegated" because they are isolated defenders in an otherwise attackers' circle.

Even if the four special dots don't represent pieces of special power, so that the argument of special pieces helping the vulnerable defenders doesn't apply, even if they are just normal pieces, then they must still be alotted to the defenders, because the text says that these dots belong to the Evangelists, which again of course belong to the Lord (the king), and so they must be defenders.

So, here's my bid for the Alea Evangelii 19x19 rules:
A corner Tablut just like Brandubh and with the same rules:
except for 2x2 size corners and 4 defending duxes.
The initial ordering is as shown on this Damian Walker's page:
The same setup is mentioned by Helmfrid as option c:

Possibly, with the 8 defenders placed in the attackers' circle, the game can work even without special duxes.

(Alternatively, a pure religous game could've been invented, where all pieces are initially black (non-believers), except for the Lord in center and 4 converted apostles (belonging to the Evangelists, the text says). And then the 4 apostles must convert rest of the board or something.)
(By the way, if "the primary man" is some other than the king in center, then he must be Jesus, and since there's only one such, and the single center point is already occupied by "the Unity", then they are forced to break the symmetry and just place the primary man somewhere on the board, and they decided of course to place him right next to an Evangelist).