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Tablut: An Aincient Board game

by Big-E Jan 20, 2015
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Why this version and not one of the other board configurations? I've often wondered if the game is more or less fair when spread out.

Firstly, the main reason I went with this board configuration is because it's the version I'm most familiar with; it's also the most popular variant. Smaller games can be played on it, and it's easy for more machines out there to handle the print dimensions of this board in a single print.

Tafl game boards can get quite large on the bigger variants; more parts to print, and games take much longer to play. There's a reason that Tablut has survived in some places and is still played to this day, and it mostly comes from length of each game played; and complexity of play (games on the large boards can take a long time to play through a game, sometimes days; it's also more challenging to keep track of your pieces and see your opponents moves in advance )

Generally, it's no more or less fair with more pieces and a larger board, it's just more "spread out" and takes longer to play a game. Handicapping can be handled prior to the game being played, with negotiation on game rules. Inexperienced players can be given more leeway (escape on any edge square rather than corners only, citadels treated as open, king's square is open when unoccupied by the king, etc)

I may revisit larger variants in the future, but for now, this being the most popular and well known version, I decided it was a good option to introduce people to the game, and also accommodate those who may already play. Honestly, if I had a need for a large tafl set, I'd rather it be a nice, well made wooden set that would compliment home furnishings as that was mostly what the large sets were, interactive furniture.

Of course, anyone can make a larger board, be it from wood, or cardboard or leather, and just print more pieces; in this regard it can be scaled, and people can try larger variants out without committing to printing a large board.

also, people are welcome to design their own boards; I'd love to see it if someone gets the urge to make one.

Sweet tafl set! I'll have to give this a print. Huge, huge fan of the game.

That's high praise coming from you, glad you like it! I've been a fan of the game for a long time now; Hopefully this will encourage more people to play.

Hey, thank you! Agreed, the asymmetry of the game design is really unique. I've got some variants that some friends and I have been working on for a while, and I'll post the pieces one of these days. Again, really beautiful work you've done here.

I wondered what the game they were playing on "Vikings" was! Cool model.

Thanks. I got a wooden Tablut set as a gift over a decade ago. When designing this set, I tried to model it after some of the more ornate historical versions.

Most often, the pieces were simple stones in varying colors with a large king stone, or hand carved wooden pieces, much like old chess sets. The board was usually made from tooled or painted reindeer hides, so the pieces could be placed in the hide and bagged up for easy transport. I made my set small to allow for easy portability. Most of the larger tafl games were meant to be kept at a dwelling.

What's neat about tablut is there are many variants of play; both players can agree on the terms of play prior to the game (is the king peaceful or a warrior-king? are the citadels hostile? are captures by "hammer and anvil" action or just by surrounding on both sides? escape to corners or edge pieces? etc.) in this way, it never gets old.