Traditional Board Games

Tablut: a Curious Hybrid of Battle and Hunt

A tablut game made in 2007
A tablut game made in 2007

Thursday, 30th June 2016

In Tablut, a game from Lapland, a king and eight defenders face an invading enemy of sixteen attackers.  The king must escape from the board, while the attackers must capture him.  Tablut is one of a family of Hnefatafl Games, a Norse invention which was popular in many parts of Northern Europe.

In A Book of Historic Board Games, I wanted a range of game genres.  In ancient board games, these genres generally mimic human activities: the race, the battle, the hunt, the construction.  Hnefatafl, which predates pure hunt games, is more of a hybrid between hunt and battle.  The king is the prey, but unlike such games a Fox & Geese, the prey has a small army of his own, each piece of which meets a hunter on equal terms.

Tablut's unusual hybrid nature of battle and hunt was one of the reasons for including it in the book.  The other was its interesting history of obscurity and rediscovery.  If you are interested reading more about it, you can purchase the book from its page on Lulu.


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