hist-games: alea evangelii

Damian Walker damian at snigfarp.karoo.co.uk
Fri Jun 27 20:42:03 PDT 2008

Quoting Jon at Gothic Green Oak's message of Yesterday:

> With the exception of the 9x9 tafl game, which is recorded ethnographically
> with its well known starting position and alea evangelii as shown in the
> 9th/11th/12 C manuscript the layout of the 7x7, 11x11 and 13x13  is entirely
> conjectural. Excepting the 7z7 tafl game which is too small for much
> variation, if the 11x11 and 13x13 boards (and possibly the 15x15 board form
> Coppergate) were laid out so that  instead of the four separate camps of
> attackers there was a more open layout along the lines of alea evangelii do
> you think this would make a difference to the length of the game and the
> frequency of wins by either side? Without having attempted this I imagine it
> would disadvantage the king but lengthen the game making it possibly a more
> even and interesting game (king unarmed)  - has anyone tried this?

I think that the length of the game, if it remains balanced, is probably 
mostly affected by the number of pieces.  The layout can, however, 
affect the balance.  I worked out that the optimal number of pieces for 
a size of board S is 6 x S - 29, but this assumes a serif-cross layout 
like tablut.

The alea evangelii has 73 pieces, as opposed to the 85 that my formula 
would result in.  But I'd describe the layout as more closed than 
open--the pieces are in a more advanced position and the blockade is 
already partially completed.  This balances things out a bit; if the 73 
pieces were arranged tablut-style I think the king would be favoured 
more than he already is.

Damian - http://damian.snigfarp.karoo.net/

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