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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.
Latest News & Blog:
New Hnefatafl Games at On-line Play Site
5 Mar: Several new variants of hnefatafl are on test at http://aagenielsen.dk/ , probably the site with the highest-level of strategic play. Mostly using existing rules with new board sizes and ... (read more...)
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You may have seen chess problems in the newspapers. Here's the hnefatafl equivalent. Each puzzle has a set goal, for example, "king to move, and to escape in three ... (read more...)
Tawlbwrdd in the 16th Century
While chess and draughts had displaced tafl in most other places, in 1587 Robert ap Ifan wrote a description of a game called tawlbwrdd, which was still played in ... (read more...)