German word “belagerung” means “siege” and this is also a name of a quite interesting war game from XIX century. This game is interesting variant of halatafl, very old game mentioned few times on this blog.
In the past, I wrote about the game of halatafl and its variants (like Freys-tafl) and fortresslike games. All these games are interesting, but they also gave rise to younger games played on a larger, modified board. Belagerung is one of such games.
This particular game was known in XIX century in Germany. Today it is almost forgotten, because the return of older and simpler variants of halatafl. In Poland, this game was known as “the great fortress” (wielka forteca).
The board and the pieces
To play Halatfl you need board on a cruciform plan, composed of intersecting vertical, diagonal and horizontal lines. Intersections on the board are fields, on which you can move pieces. In total there are 67 such fields.
In addition you need 50 black pieces (stones) and only 3 white pieces to play.
Aim of the game and special areas on a board
The aim of the game of belagerung is fighting for the territory. Black pieces are trying to conquer a Fortress.
The Fortress is a special group of fields – 17 fields in the upper part of the board, which include “upper rectangle” and the two fields of “horns”. You can see fortress on the image below (this is area inside the red border).
In belegerung Black player tries to conquer the Fortress by ocupying all its fields with black pieces. White player is trying to prevent this by killing (capturing) the black pawns. For this reason, Black is called Attacker and White is called Defender.
Before the start of the game 50 black pieces are set on all fields of the board except the fields of the Fortress. This initial setting is shown on the image below.
Defender (White) sets his three pieces on freely chosen fields of the fortress.
Atacker starts game, and then players make moves alternately.
In one turn both the white and black pieces can move from one field (intersection) to neighbouring field connected with line.
Attackers can not capture (kill) defenders.
Defender can capture enemy pieces by jumping over them and landing on the free field behind them (in a straight line). We can say that killing in belagerung is similar to capturing in checkers.
The image below shows an example of capturing move.
Capturing is not mandatory.
It is possible (but it’s not mandatory) to capture more than one attacker in one move if there is a possibility to make of successive jumps. The image below shows double capturing in one move.
End of the game
Black (Attacker) wins if he takes all fields fortress or blocks defenders.
White (Defender) wins, if he captures at least 34 black pieces (with such loss Black has no possibility of conquering the Fortress).
If you’ve ever tried to play games from “fox and geese” family, you can be sure belagerung is right game for you. This game is simply more dynamic, more complex, more surprising than traditional halatafl. However if you’ve never played such games and just want to try belagerung, I advise you not to finish on this one game. Below you can find links to articles about related games. It’s always worth to explore “ancestors” of the game.
- Halatafl or “fox and geese”
- Freys-tafl and other halatafl variants
- Fortresslike games – more halatafl variants