How to tafl: Articles in my review series on the tafl games
Moshe Callen
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Previously, I did this Geeklist http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/27464 on the family family of games, specifically its traditional members. This is a related Geeklist in that it covers the same games, but it lists my series of reviews rather than the games themselves.

I decided to review these games because I noticed both that these generally had no reviews and much of the information posted about them was simply incorrect. The fact that I think these simply great games is an added bonus. I should note however that I initially played these games because these were public domain games playable with items and game pieces I either had or could easily make or adapt. (I discovered BGG at a time when I was barely making ends meet due to an unfortunate set of circumsatnces beyond my control.) Now, I still play them beause I find them surprisingly deep games.

This is therefore a meta-list of my reviews of these games.

NB:
The review http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/338969 is not strictly of a tafl game-- certainly not a traditional one anyway-- nor in this series of reviews, but the game has many similarities to tafl games.
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1. Board Game: Petteia [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:14203]
Board Game: Petteia
Moshe Callen
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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The review http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/344703 serves as an introduction to this series. Although this game is not itself a tafl game, it is the ancestor-game of these and many other games. As such, it serves as an excellent point of reference.

For someone who wants to learn how to play tafl well, this is a good game to play precisely because tafl developed from it. The review covers two versions of the game, namely the same game as played at two different periods/locations in history. The ancients made no distinction and so the labeling is a purely modern convention.

Nonetheless, most use the Greek name Petteia for the earlier game, played by both Greeks and Romans alike, and the Latin name Ludus Lantruculorum or simply Lantruculorum for the later purely Roman game. Using the names in this sense, Petteia gets one used to the strategy of custodial capture. Because tafl games use custodial capture, this is a necessary background skill. Lantruculorum then incorporates concentrating on capturing one specific piece within the context of a game using custodial capture. Since one must both defend and attack, this hones the basic skills that tafl uses without either the unequal numbers or driving the king (dux here) to the corner or edge of the board.
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2. Board Game: Brandubh [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:11802]
Board Game: Brandubh
Moshe Callen
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/2697029

For someone interesting in learning how to play tafl games well, this is an excellent first actual tafl game. Playing Petteia and Lantruculorum (in the modern usages of those names) first gives the tafl-learner the basic background knowledge so that the player can concentrate on learning how to deal with the main issues of tafl rather than just the capture style and how to get to aa particular piece one wants to capture or how to protect a particular piece an opponent wants to capture.

The advantages this game has for the beginner are that the king is captured like any other piece, that pieces can pass over the center, that the board is smaller and finally that there are fewer pieces to deal with. The smaller board and fewer pieces limit the scale of the tactical problem to something more manageable for a beginner. The fact the king is captured like any other piece lets the learner concentrate on blocking and capturing or conversing guarding and protecting from capture the king in a manner with which that learner should now be reasonably familiar. The ability to pass over (albeit not land on) the center point with any piece other than the king eases the learner into the concept of treating the center as a special point.
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3. Board Game: Gwyddbwyll [Average Rating:5.60 Unranked]
Board Game: Gwyddbwyll
Moshe Callen
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/345338

The board and number of pieces in this tafl game are identical to Brandubh, the previous game, and so the learner encountering this tafl game in sequence will approach it with a large degree of familiarity. Yet, the rules of this game incorporate full the special status of the center point and the special manner of capture for the king uniform in the other tafl games. This therefore allows the learner to get used to these aspects of tafl games. At the same time, it exposes the learner to the effect of altering the initial set-up of the game.
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4. Board Game: Fidhchell [Average Rating:6.70 Unranked]
Board Game: Fidhchell
Moshe Callen
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/2701290#2701290

This game increases the number of pieces and also, by allowing the defending player to win by reaching an edge with the king, forces novice players to focus on blocking or moving the king, respectively for the attacking and defending player. Of course, the players should already have begun to develop these skills, but the point is to refine them.
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5. Board Game: Ard Ri [Average Rating:5.73 Unranked]
Board Game: Ard Ri
Moshe Callen
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/2715695

More than anything else, this game drives home the advantage the attacking player will have if the defending player allows him to bring his numerical superiority fully to bear.
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6. Board Game: Tablut [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:8343]
Board Game: Tablut
Moshe Callen
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/2720444#2720444

This game increases the board size and piece numbers while returning to a more relatively open initial formation like that used in Brandubh. It allows the learner to return to a game like the first tafl game encountered but yet using the skills developed since then.
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7. Board Game: Tawlbyund [Average Rating:5.75 Unranked]
Board Game: Tawlbyund
Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/347170

This game again increases the size of the board and the number of pieces in play while also varying the initial formation of pieces. The digression into how dice are incorporated in these games may be a distraction for those who like pure games of skill, but some will enjoy the variant. Besides, as explained, the game need not be played with dice.
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8. Board Game: Hnefatafl [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:2695]
Board Game: Hnefatafl
Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/348185

This game actually differs from Tawlbyund only in the initial position of the pieces for the attackers. So, the learner can judge for himself what difference that makes to game-play. The difference is small, but its effect is greater than one might anticipate.
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9. Board Game: Large Hnefatafl [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Board Game: Large Hnefatafl
Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/348598

This game returns to a formation analogous to Brandubh for the initial placement of pieces which are the same in number as for ordinary Hnefatafl. The only difference of the two games is the slight increase in board size. The learner ought be pretty well grounded in the standard elements of tafl games by this point hopefully.
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10. Board Game: Alea evangelii [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Alea evangelii
Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/348662

Finally, this game not nonly alters the initial formation of pieces and increases the board size but also throws a new element into the tafl mix. Whether this game is the "best" or "ultimate" tafl game is purely a matter of taste, but certainly this is the most complex and strategically deep.
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From gallery of whac3
Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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This entry for the tafl family is added in order ot aid the functionality and findability of this list.
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