Nordic Battle Gaming

What is Battle Gaming?
Battle Gaming is a hobby that tests the limits of both your imagination and physical prowess. Players engage in a large scale team fight following the rules of boffering (a tactical padded-weapon combat simulation). While still in its infancy, battle gaming has grown into an international phenomenon with a ton of diversity of gameplay and community.

Battle Gaming was branded in USA back in -77 by Brian Wiese as Dagorhir Outdoor Improvisational Dark-Aged Battle Gaming. There are active communities that hold events all around USA, but rules used vary quite a bit between the communities. Of all communities in USA the rules used in Dagorhir and Belegarth are closest to what we use in the Sotahuuto.

According to Wikipedia: “Battle gaming is a North American medieval combat sport where participants use mock foam-padded weapons (boffer) in live action battles. The sport began in 1977 with the creation of Dagorhir.”

Defining what is Nordic Battle Gaming
As for intro of what this article entails let’s get few things straight right off the bat.

Just to get it out of the way…
Why not
…a European Battle Gaming? – There is at least one team in Germany that uses one of the US versions of rules.

…a Finnish Battle Gaming? – Just sounds a bit too cocky…

…a Fennoscandian Battle Gaming? – A what in the what now? On the other hand it sounds kinda cool…

…a North European Battle Gaming? – Too long and not that… area specific.

…a Karelian Battle Gaming? – Area is pretty much wholly part of Russia now so that’s not really correct.

Now that the silliness is done…
Why Nordic Battle Gaming?
It sounds cool and there has not really been a specific term for it. Boffering (or Boffaus in finnish) as a word isn’t really informative, but when you say Battle Gaming it’s a bit easier to wrap your mind around. Finland is the only Nordic country hosting this type of combat-only event.

Swedes (and Norwegians to my knowledge) host LARP events that sometimes have battle elements. For those events the goals are still to engage in immersive roleplay and to progress the storyline of the LARP at hand. Often times battle results in LARPs can be predetermined.

Also this is a lot easier to link with Nordic LARP as we do our thing with same level of passion.

What is Nordic Battle Gaming?
NBG is medieval combat with foam-padded weapons. Mostly taking place in Finland (but also played internationally) this hobby is extremely starter friendly with easy-to-build equipment and opportunities to learn all over Finland. Boffering is a fight between two opponents which is simulating a swordfight. When there are multiple fighters on the field following rules of boffering that is basics of Battle Gaming. Nordic Battle Gaming is our style of practicing the hobby with our variation of the rules.

What is Sotahuuto?
Since it affects so much, Nordic Battle Gaming can’t be explained properly without talking about Sotahuuto. Rules of annual Sotahuuto are also used as a basis for rules of boffering in Finland. Sotahuuto organization also adjusts the ruling according to safety concerns, through feedback and general scene development.

Sotahuuto is the biggest Nordic event of it’s kind and the first Sotahuuto event was held in Jyväskylä in 2005, organized by Maahinkainen with a little over 200 participants. Over the years it has grown into a 600 participant event. There has been a group from Estonia that has participated in Sotahuuto multiple times, so obviously it’s an international event. 😉

In Sotahuuto Glory points are awarded to teams from their performance in battle scenarios. Likewise Disglory can be given for breaking rules. Each team gives feedback to organizers after each scenario both positive and negative feedback in written form. Capturing enemy flags, performing well in battles, keeping your flag, being on a winning side, surviving battles and generally pushing towards your side winning will merit most glory. At the end of the event all points are tallied and the team with most Glory wins the event, getting to carry the “Sotahuuto shield” -trophy home.

Nordic Battle Gaming Guide for Dagorhir and Belegarth players
– Armor point saves 1 hit like in Dagorhir and Belegarth rules.
– No uncontrolled charging, shield grabbing or hitting with shield.
– Pushing is allowed when it’s not actively used to try to knockdown opponent for safety reasons.
– Head is allowed hit location.
– 1 Hit to torso or head kills.
– 1 Hit to arm disables it and hit to disabled limb kills.
– 1 Hit to leg disables it, but you can stand on it just not put your weight on it. The wording of this ruling might change this year.
– Losing both legs or arms, kills.
– Shield is not a weapon, it’s a defensive item used for defence purposes only.
– Each weapon deals one damage per hit. Only exception is warmachines that kill with one hit even if it hits a shield, any part of a wielded weapon or body part even if it’s armored.
– Dead raise their hand above their head pointing their weapon downwards, and leave the combat area as quickly as it’s safely possible.
– There are some limitations to what you can wear, but for example a hockey helmet can be used if it’s covered with cloth or paint.
– Tabard usage, each group has their own identity and clothing. This might be just speculation, but events hosted in US can look pretty confusing because each participant makes their own equipment and participate more as an individual than a group.

Check current rules of boffering translated in english for more details.

Myths/Truths about NBG
…Not a LARP. In LARP everyone participating is performing a role/character ingame. Once/if that character dies she’s out of the game. It’s also common for a LARP event to have physical contact limitations (of course the rules may vary by community).

…Not a historical reenactment. There are historical references used yes, but we do not act and the battle results are not fixed.

…Not using Spells. In USA spells are used in some battle gaming events. (Dargon, Amtgard)

…Not using Latex weapons. Latex weapons are banned in Sotahuuto. Even in padded-weapon combat thrusting with Latex weapon is illegal due to the hazard of impaling someone, while in boffering most of the connecting hits are thrusts.

…Not a Buhurt or SCA. More armor and real weapons.

…Not historical sword fighting. Historical references are used for the style of gear that is allowed in events, but there are no metal weapons allowed. Most weapons and warmachines you can use if there are historical facts about the usage.

…Not a sport. Well it kind of is, but the lines are blurry on this debate. There are some elements for sure; competition, scoring, winners and losers, capturing enemy flags for points. Also good physical endurance is helpful.

…Team combat. What do I mean by this? If you look for photos or videos of NBG one of the biggest things you’ll notice are the teams that play it. In USA events there were a few guys with the same tabards and so forth, but the combat was pretty chaotic as it was mainly dark colored tabards fighting dark colored tabards. In Finland, well I believe the main reason for the noticeable difference is the Sotahuuto rules, where a group of 5 players is considered a team and can be awarded glory for performance. When you look at videos or pictures you can actually see which group is where and who they’re fighting  even though the battle can get really messy at times.

…Community. In Finland there are currently around 40 different sized teams all spread all over. Line armies are from 15 to 55 man teams and skirmishers tend to run in smaller numbers between 5-15. Scene is approximately 1000 people strong in Finland. The biggest and clearly most anticipated annual event is Sotahuuto that has grown into a 600 combatant event.

Putting things in perspective, comparing this into largest annual 1500 combatant event Ragnarok (Dagorhir) in USA it should show actually how huge Nordic Battle Gaming actually is in Finland. 

Bootcamps and other events
There are other events too, which are smaller Bootcamps that are held, when there is an organizer for them.

NoxBo is the biggest annual bootcamp with pretty steadily 300 combatants and is held before Sotahuuto as the final grand bootcamp to test out your new equipment and strategies.

Other minor events: Vainovalkeat, Oriveden treenileiri, Ropecon 1v1 boffer tournament, Tracon 1v1 boffer tournament.

Events from the past: Fantasy Battle, Kuninkaantekijät, Rähinäriäkäsy.

Similar events: Jüriõõ ülestõus(in Estonia), Nordic Equinox(in Estonia), La Bataille de Bicolline (in Canada).


Here is few billion words to describe the differences mentioned above.

SCA Crown tournament, 2015

SCA spiced up with LARP elements.

Pennsic War SCA Battle Combat, 2014


NA – USA – Battle Gaming
Belegarth: Spring Wars, 2015


Dagorhir: Ragnarok XXX, 2015


NA – CANADA – Battle Gaming
La Bataille de Bicolline, 2013


Krigshjärta 7, 2015


EU – FINLAND – Nordic Battle Gaming
Sotahuuto, 2015

Sotahuuto, 2014


EU – FINLAND – Nordic Battle Gaming / Survival
Vainovalkeat, 2014

Vainovalkeat, 2015 Teaser


EU – ESTONIA – LARP / Battle Gaming
Jüriõõ ülestõus, 2015

Nordic Equinox, 2015


Collected a list of some hype words to help internet researching and late night youtubing/twittering:

#Padded mock weapons
#Foam weapons
#Full-contact melee fighting and ranged combat
#Foam-padded boffer weaponry and equipment

“Things” that are similar or close to or just… pretty much somewhere in the same general direction of a ballpark of what might interest you:



-Juha-Matti “Juhi” Marjamaa
Hound Council – Manager of Bureaucracy and Communications, Propaganda Secretary
Hounds of the Grail –

Kuvaaja Antti Huutoniemi, Sotahuuto 2015

Photographer Antti Huutoniemi, Sotahuuto 2015