Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ready to Play Some Hnefatafl? It's Hneat-O!

Some years ago, I co-wrote a quiz which ran in every issue of an airline in-flight magazine.  Not only did the quiz have to be interesting, but (in theory) each of the ten questions had to relate to one of the destinations the airline flew to.  Plus a bonus question!

This was back before the internet came into its own.  In fact, it was so long ago that the magazine actually employed a fact checking department.

Yes, children, once upon a time there were learned men and women who made sure you didn't fabricate your articles.  They checked every fact, every single time!  Life was more difficult back then.

The editor also had to approve the topic for each quiz.  One of the quizzes was to be on games.

Matching the countries to which the airline flew with unusual games proved to be difficult.  I was dredging up games little-known in the USA, such as senet (Egyptian) and tablero de Jesus (Andalusia, Spain).

Tonight on the PRI radio show The World I heard of another game, called hnefatafl.  The name apparently translates as King's Table.  Supposedly, it dates back to the Vikings, although the hnefatafl world championships are now played in Scotland.

It's a board game, of interest because it's a two-player asymmetric game.  One side starts out surrounded  and outnumbered two-to-one.  That side's goal is for it's King to escape the encircling horde.  The encircling side wants to capture the King.  Interestingly, it takes two soldiers to kill a single opposing soldier, which is a rarity in board games.

It sounds interesting.  And it sounds like a perfect game for zombie fans.  Can you escape the ravening horde of encircling zombies?  Practice your moves with a round of hnefatafl!

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