Hnefatafl: the Game of the Vikings

Rules Leaflets

These leaflets each have the rules for a particular variant of hnefatafl, along with a bit of history. The rules for most of the variants are available as web pages, but these aren't always handy when on the move, or when you want to try out a new rule set with your own hnefatafl board.

The leaflets are free to print and distribute, and are especially useful for museums, re-enactment groups and other event organisers who want to feature the games. They are designed to be printed on two sides of an A4 sheet of paper, which can be folded into A5. The leaflets should also fit onto a US Letter sized page, possibly with a bit of scaling.

Tablut Leaflet


Download: tablut-leaflet.pdf
Size 118kb, downloads 6541.

The Tablut leaflet features a game where the king must reach an edge to win the game. The king must be surrounded on two sides to be captured, unless he is on or beside the central square, in which case four or three attackers are required to seize him. The king can take part in capturing enemies in this game. This variant is the closest thing there is to an authentic "standard" in hnefatafl. It has been thoroughly play-tested ... (read more...)

Brandub Leaflet


Download: leaflet-brandub-book.pdf
Size 108kb, downloads 4721.

This leaflet describes a 7x7 game in which the king wins on reaching a corner. The king can take part in captures himself, and is captured the same way as any other piece. This game would work well in Irish and Celtic re-enactment events, or in classes about Irish social history. For tournaments, this is a balanced game which emphasises short-term tactics, and is not as trivial as it first appears. (read more...)

Tawlbwrdd Leaflet


Download: leaflet-tawlbwrdd-book.pdf
Size 127kb, downloads 4432.

This leaflet describes tawlbwrdd, the hnefatafl game played in Wales. Tawlbwrdd varied in size through the ages, and this leaflet adopts the game of 37 pieces on a board of 11 rows of 11 squares. The rules of tawlbwrdd are simple and elegant, with no special squares to remember, and all pieces moving and being captured in the same way. The simplicity and elegance of the version of the game presented here makes it ideal to introduce beginners to ... (read more...)

Alea Evangelii Leaflet


Download: leaflet-alea-evangelii-book.pdf
Size 120kb, downloads 3991.

This leaflet describes the largest of all hnefatafl games, alea evangelii. Played on a 19x19 board, the king must reach one of the corner areas. The king is captured by surrounding him on all four sides, and he can take part in captures. This is the game to play if you want to impress. The huge board and the many pieces make it a sight to behold. Hnefatafl sets of this size are difficult to get hold of, but ... (read more...)

Fetlar Hnefatafl Leaflet


Download: leaflet-fetlar-book.pdf
Size 119kb, downloads 6805.

This leaflet is a paraphrase of the rules developed by the Fetlar Hnefatafl Panel for their annual World Quick-play Hnefatafl Tournament. This version has been adopted by other tournaments around the world and is supplied with some commercial sets of the game. Fetlar hnefatafl features a strong king, who may capture enemies and needs to be surrounded on four sides in order to be captured. However, to achieve balance he is required to reach a corner of the board, ... (read more...)

Sea Battle Tafl Leaflet


Download: leaflet-sea-battle-book.pdf
Size 118kb, downloads 4169.

This leaflet covers sea battle tafl, an elegant modern variant depicting a battle at sea. A valuable cargo ship is protected by a small fleet of escorts, when a larger pirate fleet attacks. The cargo ship, which is difficult to capture but may not give battle itself, must escape from the area before the pirates seize it. The elegance of this game comes from the simplicity of its rules, which are relatively free from exceptions and special cases. The ... (read more...)

Magpie Leaflet


Download: leaflet-magpie-book.pdf
Size 112kb, downloads 3750.

Magpie is a variant created by Nigel Suckling for his book The Leprechaun Companion. It is played on the smallest board of seven rows of seven squares, with thirteen pieces. The king is strong but slow in this version of the game. The back-story is delightful. A leprechaun has discovered a bag of gold, and is trying to take it home with the help of four companions. Eight thieves try to take it from him. The gold is heavy, ... (read more...)

Imperial Contest Leaflet


Download: leaflet-imperial-contest-book.pdf
Size 119kb, downloads 3060.

Imperial Contest was the first commercial version of hnefatafl, appearing in 1855. Adapted from tablut, Imperial Contest was set in the Crimean War, setting the Russian emperor and his forces against a coalition of allies. The rules were copied by an American manufacturer in 1863, who released the game as Freedom's Contest, set in the American Civil War. The emperor in this game wins on reaching the edge of the board. He cannot capture enemies, and needs to be ... (read more...)

Single-step Hnefatafl Leaflet


Download: leaflet-single-step-book.pdf
Size 119kb, downloads 3448.

Often just called "Hnefatafl" in the books that feature it, this game is here called single-step hnefatafl to distinguish it. The peculiarity of this game is that pieces move only to adjacent squares, making progress much slower than in other versions of hnefatafl. Single-step hnefatafl is always played on a board of 81 squares, with a king and eight defenders against sixteen attackers; the defenders are always formed up into a square. Certain versions of this game give the ... (read more...)

Ealdfaeder Taefl Leaflet


Download: leaflet-ealdfaeder-book.pdf
Size 119kb, downloads 3572.

This version of hnefatafl was formulated by the Ealdfaeder re-enactment group. Ealdfaeder specialise in 7th-century Anglo-Saxon activities, and they also sponsor the English National Hnefatafl Championships at Sutton Hoo. The version of hnefatafl they play among themselves uses a 9x9 board, on which the king must reach a marked corner square. The defenders are laid out in the form of a square at the beginning of the game. (read more...)

Copenhagen Hnefatafl Leaflet


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 ... (read more...)

York Hnefatafl Leaflet


Download: leaflet-york-book.pdf
Size 121kb, downloads 4078.

York Hnefatafl is a name I have given to the version of hnefatafl marketed by the York Archaeological Trust in 1980, which they simply called "hnefatafl". It was designed by David Brown, and features a weaponless king who requires four attackers to capture him, and wins upon reaching the edge of the 11x11 board. The leaflet is designed for printing on two sides of an A4 sheet. This can then be folded to create a handy A5 leaflet. Feel ... (read more...)


Are these public domain? Or are they copyrighted? I'm looking to read the instructions in a video.

John Michael Kamp - 18:13, 09/07/2020

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