Fortresslike games – more Halatafl variants

I already wrote on Halatafl game and its variants such as Freys-tafl. Generally, these are “fox games”, where one player plays with the “fox”, and another player plays with “geese”. Aim of the game is different for each player.

In some Halatafl variants there is only one “fox”, and the aim of the game is to kill the Geese (for Fox) or to block Fox (for Geese). Today I want to show you three slightly different variants in which there are two Foxes, and players fight for a territory.

“Fortresslike games”

Among the games derived from Halatafl there is a group of games that I personally call “fortresslike games”. They are usually played on the Freys-tafl board, like this on the image below.

freystafl

On this board there is a group of fields called “Fortress” – those 9 fields on the top square. I pointed them with red dots on the image below.

Forteca

In “fortresslike games” the whole game is about these fields. The aim of one player (who plays “Geese”) is to occupy these fields with his 9 pieces. The other player (who plays “Fox”) has to kill as many Geese to make it impossible.

Let mi show you three examples of “fortresslike games”.

Fortress

Fortress is a game played on Freys-tafl board. One of the players has 24 black pieces and hHis opponent has two white pieces. Before the game starts, black pieces are placed on the board in such way that they occupy all fields except Fortress. This is shown on the image below.

Forteca-1

The player who plays white pawns sets them on freely chosen fields of the Fortress.

Rules of the game are as follows.

  1. Black plays first
  2. In one turn each player can move one of its pawns to the adjacent field joined by a line.
  3. White piece can capture black piece by jumping over it and landing on the free field behind it (in a straight line). This is similar to capturing in checkers.
  4. Capturing is not mandatory
  5. Black pieces can’t capture white pieces
  6. Black wins if he occupies all fields of the Fortress or he blocks the white pawns so that they could not make a move.
  7. White wins if he (or she) captures so many black pieces that it makes their victory impossible.

As you can see, the rules of the game are very similar to those in the simplest variant of Halatafl. Only number of pieces and aim of the game is different.

“Wolves and sheep” or Halatafl with two foxes

In some books about games you can find a game named “Halatafl”, but played with the two Foxes (white pieces) with rules similar to Checkers. In this game there are 20 black pawns. Initial setting of white and black pieces is shown on the image below.

Forteca-Foxes

Rules of the game are as follows.

  1. First player to move is determined by drawing lots.
  2. Black pawns (called “Geese” or “Sheep”) can move only sideways and towards the fortress (forward). They can not move backwards. In one turn player can move a piece to the adjacent field joined by a line.
  3. White pieces (“Foxes” or “Wolves”) can move in all directions.
  4. Foxes (wolves) can capture geese (sheep) by jumping.
  5. Capturing is mandatory
  6. Black pieces can’t capture white pieces
  7. Black wins if he occupies all fields of the Fortress or he blocks the white pawns so that they could not make a move.
  8. White wins if he (or she) captures so many black pieces that it makes their victory impossible.

As you can see, this version of the game is really  similar to draughts. The ability of moving back is limited and there is an obligation to capture (for “Foxes”).

In Poland this game is sometimes sold under the trade name “Wolves and sheep”. Interestingly, there is also a draughts-like game “Wolves and Sheep” played on the chessboard.

Sometimes boards for this game have drilled holes, and the pieces have a form of pegs. It’s cute.

Polish Fortress

Polish Fortress is a variant of the game known in Poland in the XIX century. It requires a slightly modified board with specialy marked transverse lines (in this case with a white dashed line). See the diagram below.

Forteca-Polska

Rules of the game are the same as in “fortress” with the one difference  – only “Foxes” (defenders of the Fortress) can move through the lines marked with white dashed line.

So…

  1. Black plays first.
  2. There are 24 black pieces and 2 white pieces.
  3. Before the game start black pieces are placed on the board in such way that they occupy all fields except fields of Fortress.
  4. In one turn each player can move one of its pieces to the adjacent field joined by a line.
  5. White piece can capture black piece by jumping over it and landing on the free field behind it (in a straight line). This is similar to capturing in checkers.
  6. Capturing is not mandatory
  7. Black pieces can’t capture white pieces
  8. Black wins if he occupies all fields of the Fortress or he blocks the white pawns so that they could not make a move.
  9. White wins if he (or she) captures so many black pieces that it makes their victory is impossible.

As you can see, you can play many games on Freys-tafl board. That’s a pretty good investment 🙂

You can read about similar games in other articles:

Need equipment?

Sets to play games related to Halatfl are available on Amazon. By buying you support creator of this blog.

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2 thoughts on “Fortresslike games – more Halatafl variants

    1. I’m seeking for information in many sources, but mostly in old Polish and Russian books. Some of them were released in 30s or 40s, but there are older, even from XIX century. I dont’t want this great games to be forgotten 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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