the Game of the Vikings

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The Viking Game

While most of the world knows how to play the ancient games of backgammon, chess and draughts, there is an almost forgotten game, comparatively ancient, which hangs like a spectre over a large part of northern Europe. This game is hnefatafl, also known in its various forms as tafl, brandubh, tawlbwrdd, alea evangelii and tablut, and less certainly by some as gwyddbwyll and ficheall. It is a game of skill in which a king tries to escape, with the help of his men, from a numerous besieging army.

On this web site I will take you on a tour of the game, starting with its history from the earliest times, through its travels with the Viking settlers, on to the time of its decline and finally to its modern revival. Then I will explain the rules, taking in the large number of variations that have existed through the ages. After that I will give an outline of the game's strategy. Finally, you can play the game against the computer or a friend using a virtual board.

I have provided at the end of each page a link to the next section of our tour. So if you would like to join me, our tour will start with the game's history.

Next: History.

Latest News & Blog:
Another New Product: the Compact 25-piece Hnefatafl Game

17 Apr: Hot on the heels of the Compact 37-piece Hnefatafl Game comes its smaller counterpart. The Compact 25-piece Hnefatafl Game offers the same space-saving but stylish design for those who ... (read more...)

Last Page Added:
Single-step Hnefatafl Games

Occasionally you'll see hnefatafl games on 9x9-square boards, with rules that allow pieces to move only to adjacent squares. They also share the same starting layout, with the defenders ... (read more...)

Daily Article:
Diamond-centred 13x13 Layout

Some people play the game on the 13x13 board by simply expanding the layout most commonly used on the 11x11 board, leaving a diamond of 13 pieces at the ... (read more...)


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