the Game of the Vikings

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A 13x13 hnefatafl board made in 2013

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:
Hnefatafl Puzzles

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...)

Daily Article:
Celtic Royal Chess

An alternative interpretation of brandub has been promoted in the 20th century, the rules having been formulated "from studying the Ballinderry Board". There appears to be no historical evidence ... (read more...)


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