Valhalla is the Norse version of the game Senet, which spread from Egypt to Greece, then to Rome and finally ending up in medieval Scandinavia. Valhalla is both a game of chance and of strategy in which players must face and overcome physical obtacles, attacks by their opponents, and the whims of the Norns in order to reach a hero's afterlife in Valhalla.
Step 1: Basic Overview
The game consists of three stages as each of the two opponents moves their fleet along the coils of Jörmungandr the Midgard Serpent.
The first row is the home harbor, where each player begins the game. The second row is the open ocean, where players must battle for position and have their ships repaired if they are damaged. The third row represents the final leg of the journey, where blockades can be formed, shelter can be taken in a safe harbor, or a ship can be washed up on the rocky shoal and sent back to the shipyards for repairs.
The first player to remove all six of their ships from the board is the winner. The last space is the gateway to Valhalla, where your brave warriors can live forever.
Step 2: Runes
Traditionally, the game of Valhalla used casting sticks with Runic symbols on them to determine the number of spaces a player can move. To make game play a little easier they have been replaced with a die. There is a printable die for you to use in this instructable.
- Gebo (in the shape of an X) is 4 spaces.
- The rune Sowilo (shaped like a lightning bolt) equals 3 spaces.
- Tiwaz (in the shape of an arrow) means 2 spaces.
- Hagalaz (in the shape of an N) is only 1space.
- The blank sides equal 0.
Step 3: Game Board
The game board consists of three lines separated into 36 spaces. You start off the board, when you enter space 36 you remove the piece from play.
Step 4: Ships
There are six place markers for each player to signify their six ships. In the printable here we used Viking shields with knotwork and dragon patterns but in the game examples I have carved marble pieces. They would have used anything from carved pieces to stones.
Step 5: Gameplay
To start your first turn cast the die and move a ship onto the board the corresponding number of spaces. If a space is occupied by another ship of either color then the player forfeits their turn. This applies only when bringing a new ship onto the board.
Once entered onto the board any piece may jump over any other piece regardless of color with the exception of blockades in row three. If a player lands on a space occupied by an opposing ship the two ships switch places. A player can not land on a space containing one of their own ships unless the space is a safe harbor or the shipyard.
Players can only move one piece at a time per throw except when leaving the board. If a piece leaves the board then any remaining moves may be used by another piece. A player must have 0 pieces on the first row before a piece can be removed from the board.
You must always move your piece forward unless there are no possible moves forward for you to take. In this instance you must move your ship back the number of spaces thrown or remaining from the throw.
Step 6: Special Spaces and Conditions
- Spaces 29, 32 and 34 are safe harbors. Any ship docked in one of these spaces is protected and cannot be attacked by an opponent.
- Space 30 is a rocky shoal. Landing there will severely damage your ship and you must immediately move it to the shipyard on space 19 for repairs.
- Space 19 is the shipyard. After being forced here by running aground on the rocky shoal a player may only exit by throwing a roll of Gebo (X). This rule only applies to ships that land on the rocky shoal. Any piece there on normal movement will continue on. A player can move other ships they have on the board while waiting for a roll of Gebo. If an enemy ship occupies the shipyard then your piece was not mended in time and must be moved back to space number 1. At that point the piece will be able to move normally and not require a throw of Gebo.
Blocades can be formed when a player has an even number of pieces
adjacent to each other on the third row of the board. These ships can not be attacked or moved by an opposing ship.
- Space 36 is the finish line and is the gateway to Valhalla. When a piece lands on this space then it is to be removed from the board. All six of a players' ships must pass through the gate before their opponents' six to win.