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Go (Wei Ch’i) Vs. Tafl (Hnafatafl)


Go (Wei Ch’i) and Tafl (Hnaffatafl) were both games established before 400 AD in entirely different regions of the world. While both share some rules and qualities like capturing units by surround them, they are considered in essence entirely different in their strategy and purpose. I will try and give a brief recap highlighting some of the reasons why these games are similar and contrasting, and perhaps we can all obtain a greater understanding of the meaning and purpose behind these ancient chess variants.


Hnefatafl meaning “the king’s board” was a precursor to modern day chess and was played throughout northern Europe. The main player base were Scandinavian Norsemen but the game also gained popularity in Iceland, Britain, Ireland and Wales. Like Go it has a variety of board sizes ranging from beginner to expert, the typical sizes are 7×7, 13×13, and traditionally 19×19. Also like Go the pieces are depicted by black (attacking) and white (defending). The game represents the mentality of the Viking people in spirit. Starting positions reflect the technique favored by Viking sailors of northern Europe, a sudden assault to overcome outnumbered enemies. Players take turns moving individual pieces across the board but each player’s goal is different. Each player is required too decided at the start whether they will play the role of attacker or defender unlike Go in which each players goal is the same. Defender is defined by the King piece that starts in the center of the board and is surrounded by eight defenders. The goal of the defender is to get the king to safety off the edge of the board. Attacker is defined by the sixteen outside surrounding units placed along the edge of the board. The attackers goal is to stop the king by surrounding him on all sides. It is important to note that while attacker and defender play pieces amounts may vary, fare games are considered to have a 2:1 ratio of attackers to defenders. The main gameplay elements include movement like pawns and rooks from classic chess, and piece capture which happens by trapping units between two enemy pieces in a straight line. There is a plethora of other strategies as well that include safe placements, multiple piece capture, and kiting techniques. Tafl is nearly extinct in modern times as it was replaced by chess during the 11th and 12th century.

go-game-1-360x240            Wei Ch’i is considered by most Oriental game experts to be the greatest strategic skill game, far surpassing Chess in its complexity and scope. Most people who have played it would agree with this conclusion and, unlike chess no computer program has yet been written which as been able to compete with the best Go players. Originating in ancient China more than 2,500 years ago it is considered one of the four essential arts of a cultured Chinese scholar in antiquity. The Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans all have dedicated schools where people devote their entire lives to the game and a grading system similar to martial arts. At first the game was played only by upper class but it gradually filtered down to the educated lower classes over time. The pieces are white and black lens shaped stones and the wood boards are made from Kaya, a wood that is very expensive and comes from trees in Miyazaki Japan and can age over 700 years. Like Tafl the traditional board size is 19×19 with smaller boards used for beginners. It is a game based on territorial capture where the goal is to capture the most territory by the end of the game. Players take turns starting with black placing stones on the intersecting lines of the board, creating “groups” and “liberty” the core mechanics of the game. Go has very few rules and yet the game itself is extremely challenging. A group is a set of stones in the same color that connect orthogonally, empty points adjacent to a group of stones is a liberty of that group. Single stones alone form four liberties around them by the nature of the board. Groups that no longer have liberties are considered captured. There are many strategies in Go like using squared groups to create eyes in the middle to prevent capture, having a group with two eyes can make large groups that are invulnerable to capture. Other tactical plays include the ko, seki, sente, atari, and dame along with other special local situations. Go also uses a handicapping scheme for weaker players, awarding starting stones based on the level of handicap, which goes up to nine levels. The initial starting phases of Go are considered the most important because players must scope out territory for development and spread out while keeping a balance of nearby groups that can be used as defense against attacks. Eventually the players agree that no more stones can be played since all territory is claimed and all local battles have been concluded. Most professional games are decided from two games with players taking turns using black because of the first turn advantage and counting total territory collected from both games to decide the winner.


Go and Tafl have many similarities for example they both use the same color orientation of black and white pieces along with turn based playing. Both games also use the same size board and capturing technique of surrounding units. While Go is considered universally more strategic than Tafl, both contain simple rules yet complicated structure and tactics. They both originated in completely different areas of the world but it is easy to see how they are somewhat derivative of each other in concept. The main difference between the two is the philosophy in which the games are presented. Tafl has two unique playing styles of attacker and defender and characterizes the emotional brute force enjoyment of battle and conquest. Tafl also has an equality imbalance due to the separate play positions, and while Go may seem more balanced in essence the vast difference in experience can create very imbalanced play sessions hence the handicap system. Go uses much more subtle messages of expansion and deceit to lure enemies into submission. Go also prioritizes territory expansion and treasure hording as its main reward elements while Tafl uses obvious domination of opponents as a means of reward. Out of both games Wei Ch’i has stood the test of time and continues to be played competitively around the world today, while Hnaffatafl lives only in memory through the modern iteration of classic Chess made popular through the European countries after its creation in India.

Author: Gavin Johnston

catch me on Twitch for more walkthroughs, comedy, and discussions

Works Cited

Michael Wolffauer “Introduction to GO” Masters Games, 1999

Parlett David “The Oxford History of Board Games” Oxford University Press, 1999

Luk “The Viking Game of Tafl” Games for Your Mind, 2009

James Masters “Go Information and History” The Online Guide to Traditional Games, 1997


Zelda Animated Series Kickstarter Update with Jedionston

Here is the latest greatest with the “Zelda Animated Series” that is currently in the works with Dylan Baily and the ever growing team of Zelda enthusiast at Platt College San Diego. I am currently writing some of the episodes in the series which I’m not sure if I’m allowed to talk about (so I won’t), and also get to perform as a voice actor for the new character “Jour”. So needless to say I’m super excited about this and you should be to, so what juicy updates am I going to release you ask?

Well to start off the good news, I have some pdf documents that will do most of the work for me! This is the introduction booklet with information on the series, so click below to check it out!


Also this is a complete list of all the episodes in the first season, which will also be preformed as radio plays soon!

The Legend of Zelda Episode Guide List

The Project Zelda Team 

Greetings Fellow Zelda fans and Anime Otaku’s of the World.  Have you ever thought to yourself “I always wanted to see the legend of Zelda as a huge epic animated series! “ Well you’re dreams are coming true.  Of course some of you all are saying but wait isn’t there already a Zelda anime in the works? Yes, it’s by friends of ours, (and is based off the manga’s) but this kickstarter is to really get us, Project Zelda money to get animators, and other equipment. This non-profit fan made Zelda anime is based off the Video games, and we are starting right at the beginning.   As we all soar into the Sky, with season one being based on skyward sword.
The series dives deep into hyrule’s mythology and history, and combining 2D and 3D animation.  The series was created to celebrate the legend of Zelda’s history as well as the fans.  We are trying to get to our goal of raising a total for the full animation (and other equipment) budget of 24 episodes is 4,853,300 dollars. Yes folks creating an anime is very expensive to make and for this special occasion it’s all worth it, as you’ll see the origins of the Gerudo , The Sheikah and other  secrets of Hyrule  as well as we try to make sense of the infamous Timeline itself (which we will set ourselves apart by featuring Original stories.

Come check out this early preview showcasing some Zelda videos

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48 Hour Film Project

So the annual 48 Hour Film Project comes to San Diego June 1-3 2012. The project features multiple teams of filmmakers from around San Diego (students and professionals), the project is to create a short film in less then 48 hours with a small team. Each team will have a set number of restrictions for their film including but not limited to, genre restrictions, character elements and locked script options. Most of the teams have already formed so joining a current one would probably be your best bet if trying to attend in a professional manner. I will be scripting and acting for PLATT College San Diego so hope to see you on the red carpet! Interested in finding out more? Or thinking about trying to join a team? Look at the link below for more information on the project website.

48 Hour Film Project

If you are an actor or skilled filmmaker and want to join or help out the PLATT College San Diego team send me and email at. The production manager of team PLATT is Dave Downes.

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JEDIONSTON – New Video Game Production Ultimate Arms – Game Maker iMac

I do it for you my old friends…

So since this is my blog I get to promote my own stuff right? I just started working on my first video game project with the Game Maker program and I plan to have it completed in six months. The game will be a  “Side Scroller Beat’em up” reminiscent of 90’s arcades of old, with a developed storyline and unlockable rewards and attires for the three main playable characters.

Story: The story follows the three main characters Kurzin, Bollie and Ciph on a rescue mission to save Kurzin’s family (Heather and his pet wiener dog Blue) from the worlds most dominate social corporation “Social Unity Corps”. But things take a twist when SUC (Social Unity Corps) shows it’s true colors.

Playable Characters

Kurzin: Former soldier who’s family (Heather and Blue) were stolen for unknown reasons by SUC. Kurzin must gather clues from various SUC operations across the world to unlock the truth of what happened.

Bollie: A sweet teenage girl who lives near Kurzin’s house and was walking by one day when she saw his cute doggie Blue being kidnapped by SUC operatives. Being an animal activist she knew it was her job to try and help Kurzin save his family.

Ciph: Mutated animal experiment created by SUC whose sole purpose is to seek revenge on the one who took him from his loving owners and made him into a monster. Knowing that this person was part of SUC, Ciph decides to wreak havoc on anyone who stands in his way.

That’s all the details I’m giving away for now, but I am super excited about trying to make this game a reality so let me know what you think?



Streets of Rage 2

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G4 Death Metal Comedy Dethstarr – Platt College Project

Star Wars fan? Old Republic fan? Death Metal fan?

Watch this…

G4 Dethstarr

I find your lack of faith disturbing…

Started filming today for Platt College San Diego Operation: RED

There is always one right?

Desert camo guy with the wooland camo guys!?!?!?

wait that’s me…

Pissed about not being able to play Mass Effect 3 while filming.

My ass getting blown up, or a huge fart?

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Gavin Jedionston

PLATT College Video Game Collaboration and DreamWorks Demo

Ok so if you know or not, I go to PLATT college San Diego (that’s the link)

I started this blog to record all the things going on with myself personally (not much :\), and also to network and talk video games with everybody and anybody, who is interested, or career oriented like myself. I will be updating opportunities and events  related to video games and anything else that comes to mind.

If you would like me to blog about something specific, let me know!!!

I would love to start making connections in the industry, not only at school, but over the social network.

This is a good opportunity for any PLATT students who are video game career oriented, to get information or exchange ideas and blogs

FYI: DreamWorks will be sending some people to do a demo in the library, the class will start around 12:30pm and last until 2:00pm, I will be there, hope to see you also

I look forward to hearing your comments                                 AN TALKIN GAMES MON!!!

come check out my blog  in the {{STAND BY FOR ASSIMILATION}} section and talk video games!

Gavin Jedionston

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