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Nibelungenlied
An entry in the 2003 Simultaneous Movement Game Design Competition

Designed by Richard Vickery
For 2 players

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Components

  • A set of chess pieces.
  • Two screens.
  • A triangular grid board with 5 vertices on each edge, with the three vertices in each corner marked off as "castles." The base of the board has the West corner at the left and the East corner at the right. The peak of the triangle is called North. The castles are Xanten in the West (the Netherlands), Worms in the East (Burgundy), and Isenstein in the North (Iceland). A copy of this board can be found below.

Set-Up Table

Character | Board Piece  | Player Pieces |Sequence| Start 
--------------------------------------------------------------- 
Gunther   | white king   | white rook    | 1      | N Worms 
Kriemhild | white queen  | white bishop  | 2      | E Worms 
Hagen     | white knight | white pawn    | 3      | W Worms 
Siegfried | black king   | black rook    | 4      | N Xanten 
Brunhild  | black queen  | black bishop  | 5      | W Isenstein
Concept

The forces of Tragic Destiny (Tod) and Natural Order (NO) are in opposition.

NO wins if Siegfried marries Brunhild or Kriemhild, which occurs if Siegfried is alone with either queen in a castle (both pieces occupy vertices of the same castle and the third vertex is vacant).

Tod wins if Gunther marries Brunhild, which occurs if Gunther and Siegfried are both in a castle with Brunhild; or if Gunther and Hagen kill Siegfried by the three of them occupying the neighbouring vertices on a triangle, with no vertex being part of a castle.

The victory conditions can be filled at any point in a turn, and the game ends immediately.

Set-Up

Put each board piece on the grid point position listed in the Set-Up Table under "Start". Each player takes one of each player piece, and puts them behind the screen in front of him. One player is Tod, the other NO. Tod chooses 2 of his 5 player pieces and puts them on the table in front of his screen.

Play

Each player secretly chooses 2 of his player pieces, excluding those placed in front of the screen (i.e. on turn 1 Tod has a choice of 3 pieces, NO a choice of 5). The player with 5 pieces may not choose the exact pair in front of the screen of the other player (either one may be chosen, but not both pieces). The chosen pieces are simultaneously revealed, and put in front of the player screens.

Resolving Movement

Revealed player pieces | Allowed moves 
----------------------------------------------------------------- 
No pieces match        | Each board piece that corresponds to a 
                       | selected player piece may move one space 
                       | (Four board pieces move) 
-----------------------|----------------------------------------- 
One piece is matched   | Each board piece that corresponds to a 
                       | non-matched, selected player piece may 
                       | move up to two spaces 
                       | (Two board pieces move) 
-----------------------|----------------------------------------- 
Both pieces match      | No board piece is moved 
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Board pieces are moved in the sequence given in the Set-up Table, by the player who selected the corresponding player piece. Each board piece moves from point to point on the grid. No piece may pass through another piece or share a grid point.

The player with 4 player pieces in front of his screen now puts all his pieces behind his screen.

The turn sequence is now repeated with players choosing two of their remaining player pieces, simultaneously revealing them and doing any allowed moves they choose.

Play continues in this way until one or other player wins the game.

The Story of the Nibelungenlied

The Nibelungenlied is an epic poem written in Germany about 1200AD, though its sources are far older. It tells how the peerless prince Siegfried from Xanten in the Netherlands, comes to Worms to court the beautiful Kriemhild. However, King Gunther and his two brothers jealously guard their sister Kriemhild. Gunther wishes to win the hand of Brunhild of Iceland, but she will only marry the man who can win three contests against her mighty strength.

Gunther and Siegfried strike a pact, whereby Siegfried will help Gunther win Brunhild's hand and in return he may marry Kriemhild. Using his magic cloak, Siegfried secretly assists Gunther to defeat Brunhild, both on the field and in the bedchamber. Unfortunately, Siegfried keeps Brunhild's ring and girdle, and ultimately bestows them upon his wide Kriemhild. A small grievance leads the queens to fight, the ring and girdle are produced, and Brunhild is humiliated.

She enlists Hagen, the chief vassal of Gunther, to help her get vengeance, and Gunther and Hagen murder Siegfried while out hunting. Kriemhild swears to exact revenge, marries the recently widowed King Etzel (Attila the Hun) and finally invites Hagen and her brothers to Attila's court, where in a crescendo of battle and blood, everyone dies and honour is redeemed.

Siegfried and Brunhild are clearly destined for each other, and in older versions of the story he is betrothed to her, but is bewitched away by Kriemhild. The Natural Order would be that Brunhild is won fairly and that Siegfried may marry any woman that he chooses. The forces of Tragic Destiny twist the natural order so that Brunhild is tricked by Gunther and Siegfried, or that Hagen and Gunther murder Siegfried to obtain his magic cloak.

This game © copyright 2003 Richard Vickery.

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