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How to Play Sea Battle Tafl

Sea Battle Tafl is a modern variation of hnefatafl. It is played on a 9x9 board with a total 25 of pieces much like Tablut.

Step 1: Arrange the Pieces

Arrange the pieces on the board according to the following layout:

Tablut Layout

The cargo ship piece goes on the central square surrounded by defenders.
The attacker/pirate ship pieces surround the defenders making a cross symbol.

Step 2: Learn the Rules

  • Defenders start first.
  • Pieces move like rooks in chess, horizontally and vertically as many spaces are there are available.
  • Pieces can not jump, skip, frolic, dance, fly or hop over other pieces.
  • Pieces can not move diagonally.
  • There are no special squares.
  • Once the cargo ship leaves the central square anyone can occupy it.
  • Capture pieces by surrounding the other player’s piece on 2 sides either horizontally or vertically (not diagonally).
  • The pirates capture the cargo ship by surrounding it on 4 sides.
  • The cargo ship is without weapons and can’t aid in capturing pirates.
  • You can voluntarily enter a space between two enemies and not be captured.

The defender wins by getting the cargo ship to an edge.
The attacking pirates wins by capturing the cargo ship.

Step 3: Switch

After the first game switch sides and play again.

Generally speaking, most people feel that it’s easier to win as the defender. This is one of the characteristics of hnefatafl games due to it’s asymmetrical nature. The strategies of an attacker is more long term. Not to worry, as each player gets better the game becomes more balanced.