Rules of Sea battle tafl.

Short overview:
Cargo ship unarmed, captured from 4 sides.

The dark pieces (attackers) lay seige, their goal, to capture the cargo ship. The light pieces (defenders) must break the seige and get their cargo ship to safety.

1.   Two players, the cargo ship's side vs attackers. There are twice as many attackers as defenders.
Sea battle tafl 9x9 board Sea battle tafl 11x11 board Sea battle tafl 13x13 board Sea Battle tafl 15x15 board
Board size and set up varies, 9x9, 11x11, 13x13 or 15x15 squares.

2.   The attackers' side moves first, the players then take turns.

3.   All pieces move any number of vacant squares along a row or a column, like a rook in chess.
move tafl piece
Moving a piece.

4. Capture
All pieces except the cargo ship are captured if sandwiched between two enemy pieces. The two enemy pieces should be on the square above and below or on the squares left and right of the attacked piece, i.e. not diagonally.

A piece is only captured if the trap is closed by the aggressor's move, it is therefore permitted to move in between two enemy pieces. The cargo ship may not take part in captures.
tafl piece captured tafl piece captured
Capture of pieces.
tafl piece not captured tafl piece not captured
The piece is not captured.

5. Cargo ship's side win
If the cargo ship reaches the edge the cargo ship has escaped and its side wins.
tafl defenders win
The cargo ship's side wins.

6a. Attackers win
The attackers win if they can capture the cargo ship.

The cargo ship is captured when the attackers surround it on all four cardinal points.
tafl attackers win
The cargo ship is captured.

6b.   If the attackers surround the cargo ship and ALL remaining defenders, then they win, as they have prevented the cargo ship from escaping.
tafl attackers win
The attackers win by encircling all defenders.

7. Perpetual repetitions
Perpetual repetitions are forbidden.
Any perpetual repetition results in a loss for white.

8.   If a player cannot move, he loses the game.

9.   If it is not possible to end the game, fx. because both sides have too few pieces left, it is a draw.

Some examples of perpetual repetitions.

Perpetual repetition - the king must find another move:
perpetual repetition
White is confined and cannot avoid perpetual repetitions and lose:
perpetual repetition perpetual repetition perpetual repetition

The Sea Battle tafl game was proposed by Adam Bartley, Norway, September 2011. 2012 the game was presented at the "Vikinger i Krig" exhibition at Midgard Historisk Senter, Borre, Norway.
The Sea Battle game pieces in the online game were drawn by Aage Nielsen, Denmark.
The 9x9 variant was produced 1855 in the UK by Jaques of London and was named "Imperial Contest", the first commercial hnefatafl game sold. (Hat tip Damian Walker).
English text and diagrams: Adam Bartley (Norway).

Updated 14.2.2024
Copyright © 1998-2024 Aage Nielsen, All Rights Reserved;