Brandubh gameboard

It was a few days before Winter Solstice, and I was hoping to spent some time in the woodshop making something that I could knock out fairly quickly. Since I enjoyed both building and playing The Game of Ur, I thought I would try my hand at another board game. But which one?

Having remembered seeing a game being played in the TV program "Vikings", I went online to see what the game was called, and what it entailed. I found Tafl games, which weren't really complex as far as components go. but the size of the boards gave me some trepidation. What I really wanted was some sort of mini-tafl, and that is exactly what I found in Brandubh, the Irish form of tafl.

A 7x7 board, with a total of 13 game pieces, should be within my skill range… off to the wood shop!

Cut squares and line them up

squares of wood laid out in a 7x7 patterh Woowee, I am not good at cutting squares. The center and end squares are Black Locust Burl, the rest of the board is a cross pattern of pine and oak.

The burl is from an amazing gift from a few years ago, the pine is from the scrap pile, and the oak is from an old table.

Each of the squares is 1"x1"

Glue and clamp the squares to make a board

7x7 grid of squares glued together and held tight by a string vice One side of the board is horribly uneven due to the squares not being cubes, but the playing side is nice and smooth.

Prepare to make game pieces

a rod of Black Locust Burl and a rod of California Ash In order to make the player pieces, I rounded a length of burl and smoothed a branch of California Ash to make 2 short rods of wood. About 1.5" of the end of each length of wood was tapered to shape and then cut off of the respective rods.

The Attacker pieces are of California Ash, and the Defenders are Black Locust Burl.

All the pieces

all of the pieces on the Brandubh board Once the pieces and board were shaped and sanded, it was time to oil and stain them.

The King

natural burl live edge for a crown The King piece was made from the very end of the burl rod that had a live edge. The live edge does a wonderful job of representing the crown.

Stitch a bag

sewing maching stitching fabric To the surprise of no one, the bag for the game is made of the same roll of red fabric that I have used for just about every sewing project for the past 10 years. Waste not, want not. :D

The end result

brandubh game pieces, on the board, on the bag The board and defender pieces where treated with tung oil. A test of tung oil on the California Ash didn't provide enough contrast for my liking, so the attacker pieces were stained with 'cabernet' wood stain… which was also used on the Game of Ur (amongst other projects).

That's a wrap!

the board and pieces inside of the bag There you have it friends, another board game in the bag! literally.

While I had a lovely time making this game, it was also a wonderful lesson in woodcraft. Aside from teaching myself a fairly basic way to created tapered game pieces with a belt sander, I also learned that my square cutting skills have not improved at all, and that I should probably spend time making jigs to help me cut squares. A jib/tool for crafting tapered pieces wouldn't be bad either.

And how does one play the game? A good explanation can be found at