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Hnefatafl - Viking Board Game

Hnefatafl was a popular board game from the Vikings Age. Unfortunately the exact rules for the game have not survived, but we know that Viking Gamers loved this particular game.

Knowledge of recent games suggests that it was played between two individuals with unequal forces and different goals. A king with a small army was attacked by a larger army; the large army would then try and push the king into a corner. The small army with the king would try and avoid getting pushed into the corner. There is some speculation that Tafl in some way involved dice.

Hnefatafl spread everywhere the Vikings traveled, England, Ireland, Iceland, Greenland etc. There are a variety of ‘Tafl’ games such as Alea Evangelii, Tawlbwrdd, Brandubh, Ard Ri and Tablut. These other Tafl games were played across Northern Europe. Yet Hnefatafl appears to be the most popular during the Viking Age.

Tafl games are universally played on a checkered or a latticed board with two teams of uneven strength.

Hnefatafl remained the game of choice within the Viking Age until Chess gained popularity in the 12th century. From the 12th century onwards there have been multiple beautifully carved Scandinavian chess pieces found throughout Northern Europe.

LastUpdate: 2015-04-10 11:16:15