Singles – Level 1 – Kingdoms

Introducing the kings in all their ancient power. Each player has three which do the work of building your ringforts. They move like the knight in chess and add many more twists and turns to the game, taking it to another dimension altogether. Kings can capture enemy ringforts and kings, but they can also be immobilised.

2 Players

LAST REVISED – 22nd February 2014



  • A match comprises two games, each player taking turns to start. The player with most points after two games wins the match.
  • At the end of each game the player with the fewest kingdoms receives points.
  • In case of a tie, the player with most territory receives points.



  • Sit opposite your opponent with the empty board set squarely between you.
  • Each of you takes the tiles of your chosen colour, ignoring the kings.
  • Draw lots to determine who starts.



  • The following rules apply throughout the entire game:
  • A king is moved in the manner of a knight’s move in chess.
  • A complete turn comprises the movement of one king plus all actions required by that move:
    • Manoeuvres Actions: building ringforts and possibly capturing kings.
    • Battle Actions: building and linking ringforts and possibly capturing ringforts and / or capturing kings.
    • Note: a king may be captured throughout the game, but a ringfort may only be captured in Battle (as this would link ringforts).
  • Friendly kings must never stand on adjacent ringforts (this is to prevent them working in tandem); enemy kings can.
  • A king must always move to a vacant hill (whenever possible); never onto enemy territory, unless to capture a ringfort.
  • Once you touch an accessible hill or a mobile king you are committed.



  • The first player builds a ringfort anywhere and then places a king in it. The second player does likewise, and so on until all six kings and their ringforts have been built. Note: your own ringforts must not be built adjacently; the closest they may be is diagonally apart, although they may be adjacent to enemy ringforts.
  • You then take turns, moving one of your kings and building a ringfort underneath it, fig. 1.
  • As play continues, movement will become more restricted until one of your kings is immobile, figs. 2 & 3. Play must continue with the other kings until they too are immobile.
  • When all your own kings are immobile, fig. 4, Battle starts. At the start of such a turn, whichever player does so first must announce “BATTLE” and advances.
  • The other player too advances on their next turn. REVISED – 12th February 2014
fig. 1: Red to move. Ticks are legal moves but crosses are not. fig. 2: Blue to move but D7 is immobile fig. 3: Red to move but E2 is immobile fig. 4: All Blue kings are immobile so Blue proceeds to Battle.



  • The restriction that prevented friendly ringforts from being built adjacently is now lifted. You may now build ringforts adjacent to your own (whenever possible), linking them all automatically in the same turn, fig. 5.
  • Note: kings are still moving using the knight’s move and friendly kings must still never stand on adjacent ringforts.
  • Note: although the proximity restriction is now lifted, you may (for strategic or mandatory reasons) still build isolated (non-adjacent) ringforts.
  • Now, when all of your own kings are immobile, they are allowed to either backtrack into friendly ringforts, fig. 6, or capture enemy ringforts. This must stop as soon as one of your own kings becomes mobile again.


fig. 5: Blue starts Battle. Blue’s only moves are either F5 or G2 to E3. Blue’s D7 is immobile, but only until both Blue’s other kings are immobile too.

fig. 6: All (both) Blue’s kings are immobile, so D7 backtracks to C5.



  • An enemy king may only be captured by one of your attacking kings if it stands on a single ringfort that is about to be (or is) besieged. If one of your kings builds the last ringfort needed to besiege it, fig. 7, (or backtracks to one of the besieging ringforts, fig. 8) the capture is made. The captured king is removed from the game, unable to return.
  • Note: if you have a choice of moves, it is not obligatory to make the capturing move, but if you do make such a move, you must capture the king.
  • If a king moves to a besieged hill / ringfort that already has an enemy king adjacent to it, the king played is safe from that particular king, fig. 9, (that particular king would first have to move away before attacking and making the capture, however, another king may be able to make the capture instead). This is because a king may legally move to a besieged hill / ringfort to capture an enemy king, figs. 10 & 11.
  • If one player makes a double capture the game ends immediately and that player wins.


fig. 7: Capturing a Red king with a new ringfort. fig. 8: Red backtracks to capture a Blue king from an existing ringfort. fig. 9: The Red king is safe from the Blue king above, but it doesn’t prevent another Blue king from making the capture. ig. 10: Capturing a Red king from a besieged hill / ringfort.


fig. 11: Red captures Blue’s king F7 from a besieged hill / ringfort. Note: if there had been a Red ringfort on C7, Blue’s king D7 would have been captured also, making it a double capture in one move.



  • Only single besieged ringforts may be captured.
  • Capturing ringforts is not automatic (as opposed to Sacred Hill) and it may only happen when all of your own kings are immobile.
  • Note: even single ringforts still count as one kingdom, so you might want to think twice and leave them alone, it really depends on the situation!
  • You capture a ringfort by moving a king onto the ringfort itself, replacing and linking it as usual all in the same turn, figs. 12 & 13.
  • Note: it is not obligatory to make a capturing move, but if you do make such a move, you must capture the ringfort.
  • You may not build another ringfort in that same turn. You may capture only one ringfort per turn.
fig. 12: Capturing a Red ringfort. fig. 13: Blue is immobile, so is able to capture Red’s ringfort E7.



  • If you make an illegal move and it’s spotted before your opponent takes their next turn, your opponent may order you to retract that move, and then replay the move with one of their own choosing in accordance with the rules pertaining at the time.



  • You may only pass at the start of your turn if all the kings on the board (both Red and Blue) are immobile. If you choose to pass, you must remove all your own kings from the board.
  • Your opponent then just has one more turn before they too are forced to pass and the game ends. REVISED
  • Note: High Kings of Tara does not have to end with a completely filled board.



  • Once one player builds a ringfort on the last remaining vacant hill, the other player then just has one more turn before the game ends. REVISED – 22nd February 2014
  • Otherwise, the game ends immediately when either one player has made a double capture or both players have passed.



  • The winner is the player with the fewest number of kingdoms, fig. 14. The winner scores 2 points, plus bonus points for the difference in the number of kingdoms. For example, if the outcome was 1 to 4 kingdoms, the winner would get 3 bonus points. The other player does not receive points for kingdoms. If either player captured one king they would each score an additional 1 point.
  • If both players have the same number of kingdoms, the winner is the player with most territory. The winner scores 2 points, plus bonus points for the difference in territory. For example, if the outcome was 23 to 22 ringforts, the winner would get 1 bonus point. The other player does not receive points for territory. If either player captured one king they would each score an additional 1 point.
  • However, if both players have the same number of kingdoms and the same territory (you both must have passed leaving an odd number of vacant hills) each player scores just 1 point.
  • However, if one player has captured two kings, the game is won by double capture (the loser still keeps 1 point if they captured a king too). Neither player scores any points for kingdoms or territory, even if the double capture was made on the last turn.
  • Note: it is possible to capture two or even three kings in one turn, but it is extremely rare. Remember, as soon as one player loses two kings the game ends immediately, so the only way to win with a ‘triple capture’ is to either capture them all in one turn or capture one in one turn, then two in a subsequent turn. You would score 3 points for the triple, if you were so lucky, or skillful.
fig. 14: Finished game: Red has 6 kingdoms and Blue has 7, so Red wins. Red scores 2 points (for the win) plus 1 bonus point (for the difference between 6 and 7) plus 1 point (for the captured king) which equals 4 points.