the Game of the Vikings

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The Viking Game

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:
King's Table - the Legend of Ragnarok

28 Mar: I've been wanting to add a page of computer versions of hnefatafl for a long time. In fact, it's been on my to-do list since shortly after the site ... (read more...)

Featured Page:
Print-and-play Downloads

If you don't have a hnefatafl board yet, and you fancy trying out the game with a friend, print-and-play files are a good way to improvise a set. The ... (read more...)

Daily Article:
Birka 624: Board and Bone Pieces

A set of twenty-seven gaming pieces of lathe-turned bone, found with an iron mounted wooden gaming board in grave 624 in Bjorko, on the island of Birka in Sweden. ... (read more...)


Hi, Swedish guy in Stockholm. We have plans for an Hnefatafl tourney in Stockhlm this year. Advice is always good :-)

Can we get contacts?

Best regards Benkt

Benkt Steentoft - 07:01, 31/01/2015

Thanks for getting in touch, Benkt! I'd be very interested to hear about the tournament. There's an email link at the bottom of every page - please send me details and I'll be happy to publicise it! I can also help to put you in touch with others who have organised tournaments before.

Damian Walker - 08:34, 31/01/2015

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