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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.
Latest News & Blog:
Modern Innovations: Altered Ratios
27 Jun: One of the things that unites hnefatafl games is the ratio of attackers to defenders. In addition to the king, hnefatafl games will always have twice as many attackers ... (read more...)
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...)
A sixteenth century description gives the size of board and the general distribution of pieces, but the exact layout is open to interpretation. One layout that matches the description ... (read more...)