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.
Here at Brick to the Past we don't just concern ourselves with building enormous, sprawling landscapes and minifigure scale buildings. Sometimes we like to build what we refer to as 'artifacts', which are used to compliment our main builds. So we have a treat for you today because here's one of the artifacts we've created to compliment this year's big project, England 793, which is currently on display as part of the Bricks in Time exhibition at Rheged.
Ard Ri is a variant of the game Hnefatafl, or simply Tafl, which is one of the oldest games in the world and can be traced back in various forms to the Vikings, Welsh, Saxons and Irish. It is rare in that it is one of the few games that comprises of two unequal sides. Ard Ri is played on a smaller board and with fewer pieces than standard Hnefatafl and it is one of the most challenging forms of the game.
In Ard Ri the defending side comprises eight 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 sixteen 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. Unlike other versions of Hnefatafl, in Ard Ri the defending side starts first.
Ard Ri is associated with the Scottish Highlands with Ard Ri meaning 'High King' in Irish Gaelic. 'Irish Gaelic' you may ask? Well Scot's Gaelic is part of the same linguistic family and in fact comes from Ireland.
Ard Ri and Hnefatafl sets often contained intricately carved pieces and beautifully decorated boards and this is what we've tried to create here, taking inspiration from traditional designs and the iconic Uig Chessmen.
The creation of this set was in fact a collaborative between our builder Dan Harris and his girlfriend, Dot Greaves. In fact it was Dot who created the intricate mosaic that decorates the playing board. The collaboration occurred by accident when Dan, having started the project, had to go away for a few nights for work. When he returned the mosaic was a lot more complete than when he left it; which just goes to show, when you leave your Lego lying around, beautiful things will happen.
We will be taking this set to The Great Western Brick Show in October, why not come along and challenge us to a game:
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