News about Scandinavian Museums' Hnefatafl

Hagbard
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Re: News about Scandinavian Museums' Hnefatafl

Post by Hagbard » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:10 pm

The Scandinavian Museums have for at least twenty years (probably based on a book published 1992) sold a Hnefatafl game box with the rules set, which on this site is called "Scandinavian Museums' Hnefatafl 11x11": Board size 11x11, capture king from 2 sides, win in corner. All our experience shows these rules to be severely unbalanced in favour of the attackers.

Yesterday I attended the Yule market at a museum and found for the first time a new version of Hnefatafl for sale with a different set of rules. In September the museum still had only the usual, old game version in the shop, and in the exhibition hall for the guests to try. Now they sell both game versions, as the old version is also still on the shelves. It's interesting that the new game version is almost identical to the Fetlar game.

Old version Scandinavian Museums' Hnefatafl 11x11.
Board size 11x11, capture king from 2 sides, win in corner. Follows allegedly in the main Linnaeus.
Produced by the archaeological magazine Skalk.
"The defenders win by taking the king." "The attackers win when the king succeeds in escaping to one of the corner squares."
All other situations are draws then? There's no mention in the text about what to do with perpetual checks or draw forts. Except for this sentence: "White has also won if the situation arises that all the defenders' pieces have been rendered immobile by encirlement." Does this mean that the defenders cannot make any legal move, or does it also cover the attackers' complete encirlement of all defenders?

New version Scandinavian Museums' Hnefatafl 11x11.
Board size 11x11, capture king from 4 sides, win in corner.
Distributed by Memory, Norway. Their home page informs that their game box is sold from museum shops in all Scandinavia.
The rules are identical to the Fetlar rules, except that apparently the throne is not hostile.
"The king wins if he succeeds in escaping into one of his four corner castles. He has lost the battle if he is sandwiched among four attackers and cannot move", or three attackers plus the throne.
All other situations are draws then? There's no mention in the text about what to do with perpetual checks or draw forts, or if the defenders cannot make any legal move.

crust
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Re: News about Scandinavian Museums' Hnefatafl

Post by crust » Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:35 pm

Hagbard wrote:Yesterday I attended the Yule market at a museum and found for the first time a new version of Hnefatafl for sale with a different set of rules. In September the museum still had only the usual, old game version in the shop, and in the exhibition hall for the guests to try. Now they sell both game versions, as the old version is also still on the shelves. It's interesting that the new game version is almost identical to the Fetlar game.
That is really interesting. Was it the Rosskilde ship museum? I had a look at the Memory website - the set looks exactly like the History Craft set sold by Past Times in the UK and Norse America in the USA
Hnef2.jpg
The rules in my History Craft set seem to be the same as Fetlar, but you are right, they don't say whether the throne square is hostile to normal warriors at all, though they do say it's hostile to the king. They also don't mention draws or stalemate, and they don't say whether the king can be captured at the board edge by 3 attackers. I guess it's a matter of opinion whether one thinks that implies he can be captured thus, or not. I've always thought not, because then you're saying the board edge is hostile to the king and not to the warriors, which seems somehow untidy. Anyway, the rules given are obviously incomplete, presumably for reasons of space and simplicity, but in any case it's a more balanced game than Skalk.

Do you have a "Skalk" set in your possession? it would be interesting to see a picture of it :ugeek: It seems like good news that a "better" version of hnefatafl is now available in the Scandinavian Museum shops! :D

crust
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Re: News about Scandinavian Museums' Hnefatafl

Post by crust » Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:41 pm

skalk.jpg
Oh, I just found this on the skalk website :oops:

Hagbard
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Re: News about Scandinavian Museums' Hnefatafl

Post by Hagbard » Fri Dec 14, 2012 4:58 pm

crust wrote:Was it the Roskilde ship museum?
It was. But the home page of Memory informs that their products are (now) found in important museum shops all over Scandinavia, including Viking museums and National Museums in Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Sweden.
crust wrote:I had a look at the Memory website - the set looks exactly like the History Craft set sold by Past Times in the UK and Norse America in the USA
Wow! Worldwide Hnefatafl integration at long last. The Norse America site informs that their game set is imported, but they don't go into details about the game box rules. However, the description of the History Craft Hnefatafl game box rules on this page:

http://www.bowdoin.edu/~dfrancis/viking/vikingApp/

is identical to the Memory game box rules.
crust wrote:they don't say whether the king can be captured at the board edge by 3 attackers.
When a customer opens the History Craft / Memory Hnefatafl game box, he'll read from the rules that the throne is not hostile except to the king ("A warrior is also captured if he has one of the corner castles on his one side and an enemy soldier occupies his other, opposite side" - an illustration shows the king next to a corner square), and he'll also read that the king is captured Fetlar-wise ("He has lost the battle if he is sandwiched among four attackers and cannot move" - an illustration shows the king on the second row surrounded on all four sides.)

So we are with this game box very very close to the Fetlar.

crust
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Re: News about Scandinavian Museums' Hnefatafl

Post by crust » Fri Dec 14, 2012 7:04 pm

I think Norse America rules feature king captured at the board edge, and only captured by 3 men on the square next to the throne if there's a fourth attacker on the opposite side of the throne. Weird. Maybe integration is a way off yet :roll:

Hagbard
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Re: News about Scandinavian Museums' Hnefatafl

Post by Hagbard » Sat Dec 15, 2012 8:59 am

crust wrote:I think Norse America rules feature king captured at the board edge, and only captured by 3 men on the square next to the throne if there's a fourth attacker on the opposite side of the throne.
Yeah, Norse America does write on their home page:
The NorseAmerica Viking Game Hnefatafl featuring playing pieces made in England ... comes complete with ... and detailed playing instructions that were researched, designed and published by NorseAmerica.

crust
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Re: News about Scandinavian Museums' Hnefatafl

Post by crust » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:30 pm

Thanks Hagbard for this interesting research.
Hagbard wrote:(The text says "A piece is taken when an opponent piece occupies both adjacent cells in a row or column", which supposedly includes the king). An armed king will, however, make this game seriously unbalanced in favour of the king, but if the king is unarmed, this is our Sea Battle tafl plus a throne.
I don't think that these rules specify an armed King - I agree they are not very clear, but I reckon what we have here is what we used to call "rachunek" tafl - that is, sea battle plus throne, as you said. You can still play it at Dragonheelslair under the name of "Tablut version 1".
Hagbard wrote:is this the Norse America tafl?
As for the History Craft set, the rules given are identical to the ones in my set - not Norse America rules (where the king can be captured on the edge) - but more like Fetlar. Again, the rules don't specifically state that the king can't be captured on the edge, but I'm sure they would have mentioned capture on the edge if it WAS allowed. Also, the rules state that the throne is hostile to the king, but don't mention whether or not it is hostile to the warriors. Either interpretation would be logical, with the fetlar throne being a sort of semi-hostile compromise

crust
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Re: News about Scandinavian Museums' Hnefatafl

Post by crust » Thu Dec 20, 2012 1:46 am

I'm not sure about calling it "Memory" hnefatafl, because Memory.No is just one out of many places around Europe which sell these sets. Would it be better to call it "History Craft Hnefatafl" if we need to differentiate it from Fetlar? Also, it's maybe a bit confusing to call it "memory hnefatafl" just because people will think (as I did) that it has something to do with remembering board positions :) just a thought

Hagbard
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Re: News about Scandinavian Museums' Hnefatafl

Post by Hagbard » Thu Dec 20, 2012 2:22 pm

crust wrote:Would it be better to call it "History Craft Hnefatafl"
There are sites on the net which cast doubt on a couple of details. Though they claim to describe History Craft rules, one gets the impression that the corners are only hostile to the attackers and that the king can be captured on the edge.

However, Waterloo Virtual Museum of Games shows a photo of the original rules from a game set in the museum's possession, and those rules seem to be the same as the rules in the Memory.no game set. And crust informs that the rules in the photo are also identical to the History Craft rules in his game set. Thus History Craft seems to be the more original source and "History Craft Hnefatafl" is a better name.

crust
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Re: News about Scandinavian Museums' Hnefatafl

Post by crust » Thu Dec 20, 2012 5:29 pm

Hagbard wrote:There are sites on the net which cast doubt on a couple of details. Though they claim to describe History Craft rules, one gets the impression that the corners are only hostile to the attackers and that the king can be captured on the edge.
Norse America are using the History Craft set with their own rules, and this must be causing a bit of confusion here and there.

About the Norse America rules: I didn't know about the corners being hostile only to attackers, that's quite an interesting idea and might help restore the game balance, as we know already that if the King can be captured on the board edge, it unbalances the game somewhat in favour of black. If the corners are only hostile to black, then the king can't be captured on the square next to the corner by 2 attackers, so the "porch of peril" is ruled out. It could be worth trying these rules... (some time)... :D

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