Brandubh 7x7

Tafl rules
crust
Posts: 127
Joined: Sat Mar 21, 2015 9:29 am

Anyone for Brandubh?

Post by crust » Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:49 pm

Hello my fellow tafologists.

I was wondering if there's any call to have Brandubh here at aagenielsen.dk - I have been playing it at Dragonheelslair, and I think it is worth while.
ballinderry.gif
Rules:
7 x 7 board with corner and centre squares marked.
White: king and four warriors
Black: eight warriors.
King is armed. Corners are hostile. Throne is not hostile. Corners and Throne may only be occupied by the King. All pieces may pass through the throne without stopping. King may not re-occupy throne once he has moved away.

Winning conditions: White wins by king reaching a corner, black wins by surrounding King on 2 sides. If player cannot make a legal move, this player loses the game.

There is some doubt over whether the king can be captured by two enemies if he is still on the throne. I would have said no, but the dragonheels game allows this capture at the moment, however I think that might change. Does anyone know of a tafl-form featuring two-sided king capture, where the king can also be captured on the throne by 2 enemies? I would say that it is preferable to have the throne as a (relatively) safe square, where the king can only be captured by four enemies.

Comments: I was initially dubious (dubhious) about this game when it appeared recently, because it appeared to be horribly unbalanced in favour of black. Now I've played it a few times, I think it is more balanced than I thought; there are tactics for white that even the balance. I think it would be a good addition to the games featured here.

Kratzer
Posts: 25
Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2015 9:28 am

Re: Anyone for Brandubh?

Post by Kratzer » Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:56 pm

Hi crust,

I've played this version of tafl once on my girlfriend's ipod, and I think that you couldn't capture the king on the throne only by two warriors (or it was adjustable, I'm not sure). Anyway, I really liked to play it, but don't you think that there is lack of strategic possibilities on such a small board? At least I thought that the tendency of two skilled players always playing the same moves is higher here than elsewhere. Which still could be useful to come closer to a solution to the "nature" of these games.

Greetings

Chris

crust
Posts: 127
Joined: Sat Mar 21, 2015 9:29 am

Re: Anyone for Brandubh?

Post by crust » Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:31 pm

Hey Chris,
You're right of course, it's a limited game, but I think it is useful as a half-way stage between sea-battle and fetlar or copenhagen. You can at least have guillotines in Brandubh, as the corner dynamics are the same as fetlar but with fewer pieces obviously. I think it is a better game than Ard Ri anyway! :shock:

If I was teaching hnefatafl, I might consider starting people off on sea battle (to learn the moves and captures), then go on to Brandubh (to learn about corners and using the armed king), and then finally graduate to full hnefatafl. If there was time, that's how I'd do it.

I didn't know you could play it on an i=pod!

Hagbard
Posts: 409
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2015 6:07 pm

Brandubh 7x7

Post by Hagbard » Wed Jun 24, 2015 8:42 pm

The Brandubh variant is really the good old Skalk game, which was discarded as useless on board 11x11 and not too good on board 9x9. Now at last perhaps the Skalk rules can come into use.

The Skalk Hnefatafl 11x11 game, which is a Tablut corner 11x11, was stated in the book "Bræt og brik, Spil i jernalderen", 1992 (Board and Piece, Games in the Iron Age).
We tested the rules and found a game balance of -3.65, that is, heavily favouring attackers.

The Skalk Hnefatafl 9x9 game is a Tablut corner 9x9 and was used by the Swedish company Expomedia for Museum Exhibitions in the 1990'ies.
We tested these rules also and found a game balance of -1.73, which is still favouring attackers, but considerably better balanced than the 11x11 board.

Now the very same rules were transferred to a 7x7 board:
Brandubh 7x7, the same as Skalk Hnefatafl 7x7, and we found a game balance of +1.17!
Very well functioning.
So, the fault about Skalk 11x11 and 9x9 was that the boards were too large for the rules, and the rules are fit only for a 7x7 board.

Another angle of view on Brandubh:
The Brandubh 7x7 is simply the Saami Tablut 9x9 transferred to a 7x7 board. All rules are the same, but because it is too easy for the king on the smaller board to win on the edge like in Saami, so in Brandubh the king has to go to a corner to win and four corner king's squares must be introduced.

Test tournament:
http://aagenielsen.dk/turnering2015_brandubh.php
Last edited by Hagbard on Fri Mar 03, 2017 10:45 pm, edited 12 times in total.

Hagbard
Posts: 409
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2015 6:07 pm

Re: Brandubh 7x7

Post by Hagbard » Sat Jun 27, 2015 11:00 am

Damian Walker gives on his internet site "Hnefatafl - the Game of the Vikings" a translated extract of an Irish poem describing Brandubh:
[link not working]

Allow me to repeat the Damian Walker note here in full:
Abair riom a Eire ogh.
An Irish poem attributed to Maoil Eoin Mac Raith throws much light on the game of brandub, as shown by the translated extract:

"The centre of the plain of Fal is Tara's castle, delightful hill; out in the exact centre of the plain, like a mark on a parti-coloured brannumh board. Advance thither, it will be a profitable step: leap up on that square, which is fitting for the branan, the board is fittingly thine. I would draw thy attention, o white of tooth, to the noble squares proper for the branan (Tara, Cashel, Croghan, Naas, Oileach), let them be occupied by thee. A golden branan with his band art thou with thy four provincials; thou, O king of Bregia, on yonder square and a man on each side of thee."
And another Damian Walker note on a historical source, http://tafl.cyningstan.com/page/146/literary-sources
The Colloquy of the Ancients
In Gaelic, "Acallam na Senorach", a collection of stories about the Irish Heroic Age, brandub is briefly mentioned and implied to be an asymmetric game: "My famed brandub is in the mountain above Leitir Bhroin, five voiceless men of white silver and eight of red gold."
These sources confirm for Brandubh that
Brandubh has 5 special squares (a throne, and the 4 others must be the corner squares).
The special squares are forbidden squares, allowed for the king only.
Defenders start up with the king on the throne, and 4 men in cross form.
Brandubh has 1 king, 4 defenders and 8 attackers.

Hagbard
Posts: 409
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2015 6:07 pm

Re: Brandubh 7x7

Post by Hagbard » Mon Jul 06, 2015 12:42 pm

Jan 23 2014 we reached a tafl milestone, finding that the "Saami Tablut 9x9" in all probability is the tafl game described by Linneaus in his diary from Lapland 1732.
( [link not working] )

The Brandubh 7x7, as outlined now, works well and
  • is based directly on the Saami Tablut 9x9, which, as mentioned, is well confirmed from historical sources studies and real-life testing,
  • what is known about Brandubh from historical sources, confirms these rules, and
  • no known (to us) historical sources contradict them.
So,
Did we reach a second tafl milestone here with the Brandubh 7x7?
Last edited by Hagbard on Fri Aug 14, 2015 12:53 am, edited 5 times in total.

cyningstan
Posts: 38
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2015 8:22 am

Re: Brandubh 7x7

Post by cyningstan » Sun Jul 19, 2015 5:14 pm

I'd be happy to promote these instead of my own rules (as currently used on my site, leaflets and books, and played on Dragonheels' Lair). The balance is better than my old rules and the consistency with tablut is an advantage.

crust
Posts: 127
Joined: Sat Mar 21, 2015 9:29 am

Re: Brandubh 7x7

Post by crust » Mon Aug 10, 2015 10:15 am

cyningstan wrote:I'd be happy to promote these instead of my own rules (as currently used on my site, leaflets and books, and played on Dragonheels' Lair). The balance is better than my old rules and the consistency with tablut is an advantage.
Great! For what it's worth, my experience as a player who has played a LOT of brandubh both on Aage Nielsen's site (with the "tablut" rules) and on Dragonheelslair, is that I quite strongly prefer Aage Nielsen's version. The Dragonheelslair version deprives the king of relatively safe positions on the throne square and the four squares next to the throne, and while the non-hostile throne would seem to favour the defenders, it's not enough to make up for the loss of those "safe" squares.

I can't speak to it's historical authenticity, but I believe the "tablut" style brandubh as played at aagenielsen.dk to be the superior game.

cyningstan
Posts: 38
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2015 8:22 am

Re: Brandubh 7x7

Post by cyningstan » Mon Aug 24, 2015 12:23 pm

Since last month I notice that the balance has changed, it's now at +1.22 overall (+1.31 when compensated for better players). That's not bad, but I've compared it to the game on Dragonheels' Lair that uses my old rules. Of 314 games, there were 144 white wins against 166 black, with 4 draws. Using Aage's notation that, I think, gives a balance of -1.15 overall. Thibaut doesn't separate out the better players' matches for extra stats.

I don't think that this is going to change my mind about changing my own site (and, eventually, books) to use Aage's rules. But I really have my fingers crossed that the balance doesn't creep further away from +1/-1 as more games are played on here.

Hagbard
Posts: 409
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2015 6:07 pm

Re: Brandubh 7x7

Post by Hagbard » Thu Jan 28, 2016 6:17 pm

Brandubh balances.

The Brandubh 7x7 game balance is at the moment measured to +1.32 (setup Brandubh cross 7x7).
To ensure that there aren't other setups with a finer balance, two alternative setups were tested: Brandubh line and Brandubh circle.

Game balance results are:

Code: Select all

x . b . b . x
. . . . . . .
b . . w . . b
. . w k w . .
b . . w . . b
. . . . . . .
x . b . b . x
Brandubh line 7x7, balance +1.97

Code: Select all

x . . b . . x
. b . . . b .
. . . w . . .
b . w k w . b
. . . w . . .
. b . . . b .
x . . b . . x
Brandubh circle 7x7, balance +1.60

Code: Select all

x . . b . . x
. . . b . . .
. . . w . . .
b b w k w b b
. . . w . . .
. . . b . . .
x . . b . . x
Brandubh cross 7x7, balance +1.32


So, best Brandubh setup is confirmed to be the Brandubh cross 7x7, game balance +1.32

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