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Viking Siege brings back a board game that was immensely popular across northern Europe in the dark ages, but was lost for many centuries. Long before chess came to Europe, this game was played in Scandinavia, Iceland, England, Wales and Ireland. Wherever Scandinavian explorers and settlers went, they took the game with them - to the Scottish Islands, to newly settled Greenland and to Kiev. It was eventually supplanted by chess at a time when anything associated with Christian Europe was considered superior, and it disappears from the historical record, though it persisted in isolated places, such as Wales and Lappland, for several more centuries. It was rediscovered by H.J.R. Murray, the great historian of board games, who put together an account of the rules of a game played by Lapps in 1732 with references to the game in the ancient Icelandic sagas. It is often mentioned in ancient texts, especially the Icelandic and Irish sagas and was known as 'tafl' or 'hnefatafl' in Scandinavia, 'taefl' in England, 'tawlbwrdd' in Wales and 'brandubh' in Ireland.

It is a great game of strategy - one of the classics in the history of board games - and as such it was an important part of a good education in its time. Like chess, planning and tactical considerations are required, though the rules are simpler. However, the objectives of the two sides are unequal and this gives the game a certain dynamic tension and intensity. The premise is dramatic: a Viking band with their leader are besieged by a larger opposing force. Their object is to help their 'king' escape to the periphery of the field, while the besiegers try to surround him and bring him down.

Viking Siege has unique built in software which allows you to communicate directly with Asgard, the other world where the heros of Icelandic literature went after death to await the final great battle of the gods. One of their amusements while they wait is to play at 'hnefatafl' and we put you into direct contact with them through the moves on the board. A host of characters are there to play against you, including many who played the game in the Icelandic sagas, and some from the Irish sagas who passed to the Celtic other world. You can also choose to watch as two Asgard-players play each other, or you can play against a friend from this world (Midgard in the sagas).

Requirements:

Operating system: Viking Siege is a DOS-based program and should run under any DOS or Windows computer. It has been tested under DOS (5.0 and 6.2), Windows 3.1, 95, 98, NT, 2000 and XP. Occasional problems have been reported for XP, most likely due to graphics incompatibilities, but it appears to run on most XP systems.

One user (thanks for the tip Eric!) reports that it runs fine under "Dosbox"  version 0.65, which is an opensource DOS emulator for MacOS, Linux and Windows(dosbox.sourceforge.net). He also reported it didn't run under a lower version of Dosbox.

Processor speed: While there is no real minimum required processor speed, you will get a better game on faster processors. It can be enjoyably played on anything from a 50 MHz 486 up.

Other: Memory requirements are minimal -- we suggest 600 KB of free RAM. Mouse recommended but the program is fully functional by keyboard.

Screen shot of Viking Siege game screen.  

Viking Siege game screen

Click on the image to see a larger size.


Some User Comments:

"I have been enjoying your game, Viking Siege, immensely.  Thank you."  S.O.

"Viking Siege is a terrific game. [...] It includes extensive information about how the game is played and something about not only the history of the game but also the history behind the gameplay."    www.CompletelyFreeSoftware.com

"Viking Siege is a faithful PC version of this board game classic, with a lot of options including different difficulty levels (in the form of different Nordic gods you can play against), complete rules, on-line hints, and an excellent tutorial. You can also play against another human player if you wish, although no Internet play is supported. If you enjoy chess and other challenging abstract board games, this rendition of hnefa-tafl is one you’ll keep coming back for more. Two thumbs up, way up!"  

www.the-underdogs.org


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Last site update: April 29, 2006