Today we bring you another small build from this year’s Great Western Brick Show and yes, it’s another board game. If you think that this particular game looks a bit familiar you would be right, because this game is called hnefatafl, and we bought you a different version of it a few weeks ago (The Beautiful Game of Ard Ri). This version is the game in its classical form and it was made by our board game aficionado, Simon Pickard.
Hnefatafl, which means King’s Table, was a popular game in medieval Scandinavia and is mentioned in several of the Norse Sagas. It is rare in that it is one of the few games that comprises of two unequal sides.
In Hnefatafl the defending side comprises twelve soldiers and a king, who start the game in the centre of the board. Their objective is for the king to escape by reaching any of the four corner squares. The attackers comprise twenty four soldiers positioned in four groups of four around the perimeter of the board. Their objective is to take the King. All pieces move like the Rook in chess and pieces are taken by "sandwiching" i.e. moving your piece so that an opponent's piece is trapped horizontally or vertically between two of yours. The attacking side starts first.
Today we bring you one of the smaller models we took to The Great Western Brick Show. Nine Men's Morris is a strategy board game for two players dating at least to the Roman Empire. The model was created by Simon Pickard as part of a series of historic games he's working on to compliment the various themes chosen by Brick to the Past each year. Simon has used some clever tricks to build this board. For example, there is extensive use of the Studs Not On Top technique (commonly known as SNOT), which is often difficult to get right owing to the differing geometry of Lego pieces. Here the technique has been employed masterfully, so much so that it is difficult see where the joins and connections are actually made.
Nine Men Morris.
Tying this to 2016's England 793 project is the fact that Nine Men's Morris has been found at a number Viking and Anglo-Saxon sites including the famous Gokstad Viking Ship, currently housed in the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway.
Nine Men's Morris is a solved game in which either player can force the game into a draw; as for the rules, Wikipedia is your friend. Apologies for the lazyness, but we didn't want to copy and paste lots of text from another website. Finally, it's worth saying that we don't know what the rules of Viking or Anglo-Saxon Nine Men's Morris were, there are even indications that a die may have been used. Our version is the modern version, but it's still one with ancient roots.
Last weekend was the Great Western Brick Show, held every year at Swindon’s Museum of the Great Western Railway, also known as STEAM. This is one of our favourite shows, being in a great venue, attracting awesome exhibitors and drawing a large and enthusiastic crowd.
This year we were once again in the Caerphilly Hall, sitting under the imposing shadow of the Caerphilly Castle, once upon a time the world’s fastest train. Lego Hastings made a return and was the first model people saw on entering the venue. Our centrepiece however was a much expanded England 793, with new additions from Simon Pickard, Tim Goddard, James Pegrum, Jimmy Clinch and Dan Harris. The model now covers an enormous 16 square metres and was built on 105 48x48 stud Lego baseplates. Every year we get asked how many pieces go into our models and every year we have no idea, but we are talking somewhere in the high 100,000s for this one.
Key features of England 793 include an island monastery inspired by Lindisfarne, a ship burial representing Sutton Hoo and an Anglo-Saxon village based on West Stow. A further neat touch was a vast cavern filled with dinosaur bones, which sat under a soaring hill of over 30 bricks in height. Running amok among this sweeping landscape was an army of Viking raiders who are bent on plundering the treasures of the poor Anglo-Saxons.
A shot of England 793.
This year’s show also coincided with Swindon 175, which celebrates 175 years since the birth of the Swindon Railway Works. We couldn’t let this go without note, so we bought along a mosaic of the founding father himself, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Brunell, in Lego form.
We also had a number of smaller models on display, including a Nine Man’s Morris board, a couple of versions of hnefatafl and, in contrast to England 793, our first ever micro-scale build. The micro-scale build is particularly special as it represents the first stage of our work for Caithness Broch Project – a miniature Lego Broch. Brochs it appears are not well known in southern England so we had a great time spreading the word.
Micro-brochs and ye olde board games.
Spreading the word about brochs.
We were once again delighted by the reaction to our models and cannot wait to return next year.
Official photos of our models will be uploaded to the website as soon as we finish editing them. Watch this space for updates!
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