An Upper Bound on the State-Space Complexity of Brandubh

Kiernan Compy, Alana Evey, Hunter McCullough, Lindsay Allen, Aaron S. Crandall

Before chess came to Northern Europe there was Tafl, a family of asymmetric strategy board games associated strongly with the Vikings. The purpose of this paper is to study the combinatorial state-space complexity of an Irish variation of Tafl called Brandubh. Brandubh was chosen because of its asymmetric goals for the two players, but also its overall complexity well below that of chess, which should make it tractable for strong solving. Brandubh's rules and characteristics are used to gain an understanding of the overall state-space complexity of the game. State-spaces will consider valid piece positions, a generalized rule set, and accepted final state conditions. From these states the upper bound for the complexity of strongly solving Brandubh is derived. Great effort has been placed on thoroughly accounting for all potential states and excluding invalid ones for the game. Overall, the upper bound complexity for solving the game is around 10^14 states, between that of connect four and draughts (checkers).

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