German word “belagerung” means “siege” and this is also a name of a quite interesting “war game” from 19th century. To be precise, 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 19th century in Germany. In 20th century it was issued by many companies and under different names: The Three Musketers, Officers and Sepoys, Yellow Peril, Bataan or Royal Garrison. Today it is almost forgotten, partly because of 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 Belagerung you need a board composed of intersecting vertical, diagonal and horizontal lines. Intersections on the board are points, on which pieces may stand. In total there are 67 such points on the board.
In addition you need 50 black pieces (stones) and only 3 white pieces to play.
The general idea of Belagerung
Belagerung is a game for 2 players, with no random element. Players move their pieces alternately. Players fight for the territory.
Aim of the game and special areas on a board
In Belagerung the aim of the game is to win or defend special territory. Black pieces try to conquer so-called fortress while white pieces defend it.
The Fortress is a special group of points, formed by 17 points 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 (area inside the red border).
In Belegerung black player tries to conquer the Fortress by ocupying all its fields with black pieces. White player tries 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 points of the board except the points of the fortress. This initial setting is shown on the image below.
Defender (White) sets his three pieces on freely chosen points of the fortress.
Atacker starts game. Players make their turns alternately.
In one turn white or black piece can move from one point (intersection) to neighboring point connected by line.
Attackers may not capture (kill) defenders.
Defender can capture enemy pieces by jumping over them and landing on the free point 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 killing move.
Killing is not mandatory.
It is possible (but it’s not mandatory) to capture more than one attacker in one move if there’s a possibility to make of successive jumps. The image below shows double kill in one move.
End of the game
Black (Attacker) wins if he takes all fields of the fortress or blocks defenders.
White (Defender) wins, if he captures at least 34 black pieces (with such loss Black has no possibility to conquer 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. It 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 on related games. It’s always worth to explore “ancestors” or “descendants” of the game.
- Halatafl or “fox and geese”
- Freys-tafl and other halatafl variants
- Fortresslike games – more halatafl variants
- Camelot – you can charge in this game
- Ringo – playing round and round