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Encyclopedia > Thud (game)

Thud is a board game devised by Trevor Truran and first published in 2002, inspired by the Discworld novels of Terry Pratchett. It bears a slight resemblance to the ancient Norse games of Hnefatafl and Tablut (and, in Dwarfish, is supposedly called "Hnaflbaflwhiflsnifltafl") but has been radically redefined to be less one sided. The two sides are dwarfs and trolls, the game representing the famous Battle of Koom Valley. A board game is a game played with counters or pieces that are placed on, removed from, or moved across a board (a premarked surface, usually specific to that game). ... This page meets Wikipedias criteria for speedy deletion. ... For album titles with the same name, see 2002 (album). ... Diskworld, spelled with a k, was a disk magazine for the Apple Macintosh, later renamed Softdisk for Mac. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Norsemen (the Norse) is the indigenous or ancient name for the people of Scandinavia, including (but not limited to) the Vikings. ... Tafl games are a family of ancient Germanic board games played on a checkered board with two teams of uneven strength. ... Tafl games are a family of ancient Germanic board games played on a checkered board with two teams of uneven strength. ... Dwarfs in Terry Pratchetts Discworld novels are similar to the Dwarves of J. R. R. Tolkiens Middle-earth, which they largely started out pastiching, and dwarfs/dwarves in other fantasy novels. ... Trolls in Terry Pratchetts Discworld novels, unlike the monstrous trolls of folklore and J.R.R. Tolkien, have been subverted into a moderately civilised race. ... This article details minor Discworld concepts: concepts and ideas from the Discworld of novels by Terry Pratchett which only appear in the background, or are not well fleshed out. ...


Overview of game-play

In the game, the objective is to eliminate the opposition's pieces. As mentioned before, the two antagonists are the trolls and the dwarfs, the trolls being few in number (but individually very powerful), while there are a large number of dwarves, but each individual dwarf is very weak and requires support from nearby dwarfs to be of use against the trolls. As in fox games (a variant on tafl games), the two sides have different pieces with different movement and attacking styles. Trolls with an abducted princess (John Bauer, 1915). ... A dwarf is a short humanoid creature in Norse mythology as well as other Germanic mythologies, fairy tales, fantasy fiction and role-playing games. ... The Fox games are a category of board games where one player is the fox and tries to eat the geese/sheep, and the other player directs the geese/sheep and attempts to trap the fox, or reach a destination on the board. ... Hnefatafl (from www. ...

Thud uses an unconventional, octagonal board divided into smaller squares, with only one piece allowed to occupy each square. A regular octagon. ...

Fictional origins

Terry Pratchett has devised a fictional history of how Thud was invented, which bears some similarity to the Shahnama theory of the origins of chess. The Three Graces, here in a painting by Sandro Botticelli, were the goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity and fertility in Greek mythology. ... The Shahnama theory is a story occurring in the epic of Shahnama by the great Persian poet Ferdowsi relating to the invention of chess. ... A Persian youth playing chess with two suitors. ...

"In short, the clever dwarf who invented the game was asked by his king to name his reward. The answer was that he wanted his board filled with gold: One small gold piece on the first square, two pieces on the second, four pieces on the third, etc. Needless to say this is more than all the gold of the Disc combined. The king then got angry and threatened to kill the dwarf who was 'too drhg'hgin clever by half'. The inventor then hastily changed his reward to 'as much gold as he could carry', whereupon the king agreed and simply broke one of his arms."


The octagonal playing area consists of a 15×15 square board from which a triangle of 15 squares in each corner has been removed. The Thudstone is placed on the centre square of the board, where it remains for the entire game and may not be moved onto or through. The eight trolls are placed onto the eight squares orthogonally and diagonally adjacent to the Thudstone and the thirty-two dwarfs are placed so as to occupy all the perimeter spaces except for the four in the same horizontal or vertical line as the Thudstone. (A photograph of the initial setup may be found at [1]). The dwarfs always move first.

On the dwarfs' turn, they may either move or hurl one dwarf:

  • Move: any one dwarf is moved like a chess queen, any number of squares in any orthogonal or diagonal direction, but not onto or through any other piece, whether Thudstone, dwarf, or troll; or
  • Hurl: anywhere there is a straight (orthogonal or diagonal) line of adjacent dwarfs on the board, they may hurl the front dwarf in the direction continuing the line, up to as many spaces as there are dwarfs in the line. This is different from a normal move in that the dwarf is permitted to land on a square containing a troll, in which case the troll is removed from the board and the dwarf takes his place. This may only be done if the endmost dwarf can land on a troll by moving in the direction of the line at most as many spaces as there are dwarfs in the line. Notice that since a single dwarf is a line of 1 in any direction, a dwarf may always move 1 space to capture a troll on an immediately adjacent square.

On the trolls' turn, they may either move or shove one troll:

  • Move: one troll is moved like a chess king, one square in any orthogonal or diagonal direction onto an empty square. After the troll has been moved, any dwarfs on the eight squares adjacent to the moved troll may optionally be immediately captured and removed from the board, at the troll player's discretion; or
  • Shove: anywhere there is a straight (orthogonal or diagonal) line of adjacent trolls on the board, they may shove the endmost troll in the direction continuing the line, up to as many spaces as there are trolls in the line. As in a normal move, the troll may not land on an occupied square, and any dwarfs in the eight squares adjacent to its final position may immediately be captured. However, the trolls may only make a shove if by doing so they capture at least one dwarf.

The battle is over when both players agree that no more captures can be made by continuing to play, or where one player has no more valid moves to make. At this point they count score: the dwarfs score 1 point for each surviving dwarf, and the trolls score 4 for each remaining troll. The players should then swap sides to play another round, and the sum of their scores for the two battles determines the final victor.

The rules are now available on the official website ([2]).


The basic overall strategy for the dwarfs to form a large group and for the trolls to try and stop them. It is normally better for the trolls to be widely spaced.

A dwarf's strategy does widely depend on how the trolls are advancing on the dwarf block. A good tactic therefore is to be prepared to sacrifice a few dwarfs to get in the way and slow down any trolls that are advancing into dangerous positions.

A troll's strategy can also vary but at the start of a match getting into shoving lines is regarded as the best tactic.

Koom Valley Thud

For the 2005 rerelease of Thud, Truran devised a substantially different game that could be played with the same board and pieces, known as Koom Valley Thud. Unlike the original release in which the publishers attempted to keep the game rules secret so that anyone wishing to play would have to buy the official set, the rules for Koom Valley Thud were posted on the official website ([3]) so that owners of the original edition would have access to the new rules. 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

External links

  • Official site, including Pratchett's Story of Thud
  • Thud at BoardGameGeek



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