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4/6/00 12:41 am  

TAFL-GILD RULES OF TOURNAMENT PLAY


    If you play tafl, you're a friend of mine. But if you do, you may question the Gild rules. Most versions of the game feature a rather more relaxed set of rules, which tend to tip the odds in the defenders' favor. Escape to the edges, with a king who can only be captured by surrounding on 4 sides makes the king (in competent hands) unbeatable.
    Variants like the defenseless king, or king's movement restricted to a certain number of squares are attempts to handicap a too-powerful king.
    After hundreds of games with various sets of rules and variations, we believe we have arrived at the toughest, fairest, most interesting and challenging set of rules, if not the authentic game played by those of the Elder Tafl Gild.
    Our rules are based on Linnaeus' account of 1732, and Robert ap Ipfan's rules from 1587. Escape to the corners, capture on 2 sides once the king has left the hof, and hostile base camps make life a lot more interesting for everyone.

OBJECT:
    The game deals with the fate of a viking chieftain, the konge or king, who is cut off, surrounded and attacked from all quarters. Aided by his badly outnumbered defenders, he tries to reach the safety of one of the strongholds in the corners.
    The task of the attackers is simply to seize and kill the king before he can escape.

SETUP:
    In the 9X9 version pieces are distributed as follows: The konge is located on the center square, the hof. Defenders occupy the forts outlying this main hof in the two squares on a straight line from the center. Attackers are situated in base camps around the perimeter, in the middle of each side; one in the center of the second row out, one on each square of the first row behind the lead viker for a total of three.
    Thus 8 defenders and a king take on 16 attackers.
    In the 11x11 version pieces are distributed as follows: The konge is located on the center square, the hof. Defenders occupy the forts outlying this main hof in the squares surrounding the center and also one in the next square out in a straight line from the center. Attackers are situated in base camps around the perimeter, in the middle of each side; one in the center of the second row out, one on each square in the first row behind the lead viker for a total of five.
    Thus 12 defenders and a king take on 24 attackers.

BASIC MOVES:
    The attackers are allowed first move. All pieces move as the rook in chess. There are no diagonal moves, or jumping of pieces. A piece of either color located on a line stops a moving piece, whether or not a capture is involved. [See capture.] The center, and the corner squares may be occupied only by the king.
    Pieces may pass over the center, but may not land. In addition, these squares are hostile ie: they stand in for a piece of opposing color in capture, except for the king. [See capture rules.] Pieces within the base camps may move anywhere within the camp until they move from the confines. They cannot return, nor can any other piece occupy these squares, though pieces may pass freely over them.

CAPTURE:
    A piece is captured when it is hemmed in on two sides, vertically or horizontally. Closing the trap and removing the piece from the board are one move. Therefore, a piece may move between two of the opponent's pieces without harm, until opponent moves a piece on that line out and back, or clamps on the other line. It is customary, and noble, to announce "gard" or "ware edge" when making this move and so avoid future confusion.
    If the king is on the center square, he must be surrounded on all 4 sides for capture to take place. Once he moves out of the main hof he is subject to capture as any other piece. He is further granted four liberties to return to said central hof. In this variation, the king is able to capture as any other man.
    Being able to kill or be killed like any other warrior on the field makes lyrical sense of the king's role in battle, as do the hostile base camps. Once having left these fortified areas, attackers may not retreat back into them, and in fact, these areas are hostile to attackers and defenders alike. Retreating cowards and enemies alike are cut down by bowmen who line the ramparts day and night.

IN CLOSING:
    The concept of hostile base camps for all sides (while unique in the tafl-playing community) is implicit in an obscure passage from Linnaeus. Having played every other living variant, we tried this, and discovered what a fascinating, intricately plotted game tafl can be, played this way. It effectively levels the playing field– in fact, the defender is at a slight disadvantage. It requires great skill and cunning for the konge to prevail, and he has to move fast for his schemes to be truly effective.
    We have set these as the standard rules of Gild tafl-play, and invite others to try them out in their games. Whether Gild-sponsored or not, we believe you'll find a higher level of play.

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