__A friend of mine was telling me that there is Gaelic game vaguely similar to chess that is sometimes played at Ren Faire. After doing some research I found several versions of it on the web.
__The Viking game Hnefatafl or tafl (pronounced like the word “table”) for short predates the renaissance by several hundred years. In fact it probably died before chess was even imported into the Western Europe so therefore would be inappropriate to play at Faire. Despite this many people have begun playing variations of it as a truly non-chess capture game.
__Most of the original rules are lost.
__The basic idea is fairly simple:
1) It is a “chase game.” This means the game is “unbalanced” with more attackers then defenders and each with different goals. In most of these games the ratio is always 2:1 plus a king on the defender side. The King begins in the middle and tries to escape to the edge of the board.
2) All of the pieces move orthogonally (like the rook in chess) about the board as far as they want but cannot move through another piece.
3) Pieces can capture each other by sandwiching (bracketing) in an opponent’s piece.
4) The King must be blocked in on all 4 sides, either by opponent pieces, hostile squares, or, in some versions, the edge of the board.
__Everything else is variant game rules to try and find a balance of power and the even out the win ratio.
7X7 9X9 11X11 boards are used and even larger. 8:4+1, 16:8+1, 24:12+1 always keeping the number of attackers as double the number of defenders (plus a king).
__Somehow soon I will make a set and find a place to play it.
PS: Unicorngardens.com has an electronic board for playing brandubh, a 7X7 Irish tafl game. It requires two players (no vs computer mode).