Hnefatafl: the Game of the Vikings

Copenhagen Hnefatafl Leaflet

Copenhagen hnefatafl front page
Copenhagen hnefatafl front page

Download: leaflet-copenhagen-book.pdf
Size 116kb, downloads 10317.

Copenhagen hnefatafl is a modern variant specifically designed for tournament play. It addresses the issues in some other modern variants of the game, righting imbalance and reducing draws. While there are a number of authentic versions of hnefatafl which are balanced and not drawish, Copenhagen hnefatafl has become popular among some of the world's best hnefatafl players.

The leaflet here is designed for printing on two sides of a single sheet of A4 paper, though it can be scaled to print on US Letter paper without problems. The sheet can then be folded into a 4-page booklet. This is handy for reference and for teaching purposes, as copies can freely be made.

UPDATED: the leaflet has been updated with Tim Millar's corrections in the comment below.

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Awesome! Thanks for preparing this. I should mention a couple of issues though... your illustration of shieldwall capture is not quite right (it's the bracketing move that captures, at either end of the shieldwall; the move you illustrate would not capture the edge pieces). Shieldwall can also work where two or more pieces along the edge are bracketed at one end by the corner square. This means that in Copenhagen hnefatafl, a corner which is blocked by warriors occupying the four edge squares nearest the corner is not necessarily secure, as it would be under fetlar rules. Also, you don't mention that the defenders can win with an edge fort, this is a really important innovation in Copenhagen as it means the King can win anywhere around the edge. As I just had a very "copenhagenish" game with Adam, where he didn't even try to go for a corner, but concentrated entirely on creating such a winning edge fort (and succeeded), this is painfully uppermost in my mind! Finally, there is also a rule that either player loses if unable to make a move because pieces are physically blocked in. This would be a stalemate (draw) in Fetlar, but in Copenhagen it's not. Sorry for quibbling, I really appreciate what you've done and am only wanting to help ;) All the best, Tim Millar aka crust

Tim Millar - 02:10, 18/07/2014

Thanks for the information, Tim. I'll correct the leaflet (and the Copenhagen web page) today.

UPDATE: the leaflet is now corrected. Keeping it on four pages after adding the extra rules was a challenge! In the end, the movement diagram had to go. I'm sure everyone can figure out a rook's move from the text :-)

Damian Walker - 05:24, 18/07/2014

Much better. Though you might want to check the caption on fig.3. Sorry to be a nuisance ;)

Tim Millar - 18:47, 18/07/2014

Oops. That's what I get for updating things at six in the morning. Fixed now.

Damian Walker - 20:44, 18/07/2014

Thanks for this. We intend to use these rules at the 2015 English National Championships as we feel that they give a better game. I will get a link put up from our site to here.

Pete Jennings - 23:29, 29/09/2014

This is regarding the a section of what's written above:

While there are a number of authentic versions of hnefatafl which are balanced and not drawish,

I would love to know which versions of hnefatafl are as described above. Lastly, is the Copenhagen Version considered better or equal to the other versions mentioned above.

I'm guessing that high level players of picking the Copenhagen version in tournament play, for a reason.

Thank you very much and love all that you have presented here. I'm waiting to receive my first 11 x 11 board and have yet to play.

Arthur Reilly - 05:31, 20/07/2015

Copenhagen Hnefatafl is considered an improvement upon Fetlar Hnefatafl, which in turn is an improvement upon The Viking Game upon which it appears to be based.

The balanced historically-authentic games are those based upon tablut, whose correct rules have been approached since the formulation of the three games above (with the original Latin rules being made available on-line some time after 2011). These games have a king captured on two sides when not beside or sitting in the central castle, a king who much reach the edge to win.

Damian Walker - 08:10, 20/07/2015

Useful leaflet but it is not actually mentioned that the King wins by getting to the corners.

I Suspect this was left off to save space but it is unclear for new players.

Great websites do book by the way.

Gary Waidson - 07:41, 03/10/2015

Thanks for the feedback, Gary! I've checked out the leaflet and the winning condition is there in rule 9 on page 4: "The king wins the game if he reaches one of the corner squares."

It would probably be less confusing if that sentence were part of rule 10, instead of rule 9 which goes on to discuss the attackers' winning conditions. I'll juggle those two rules about next time I update the leaflet.

Damian Walker - 09:39, 03/10/2015

My mistake, I realised as soon as I printed it out I had missed the back page. Sorry for being so unobservant.

My blasted Ipad also introduced a typo to my post, it should read: "Great websites and book by the way."

Things were much easier in the Tenth Century...

Gary Waidson - 17:24, 03/10/2015

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