Hnefatafl: the Game of the Vikings

Rules for Ludus Latrunculorum

A starting layout for ludus latrunculorum.
A starting layout for ludus latrunculorum.

Below are some suggested rules for Ludus Latrunculorum, also known as Latrunculi, a probable ancestor of the game of hnefatafl. These have been taken mainly from H. J. R. Murray (A History of Board-Games Other than Chess, 1952) and David Parlett (Oxford History of Board Games, 1999).

1. The game of ludus latrunculorum can be played on a board of 8x8 squares. It can be played on larger or smaller boards, if the numbers of pieces are adjusted so that each side's pieces fills one row of the board.

2. Upon the board are set eight soldiers of each colour, black on the back row of the board, and white opposite. On the next row in front of the soldiers, a king is positioned, each player placing the king on the fourth square from his left.

3. Black begins the game, alternating turns with white.

4. A player may move a piece as far as he pleases along a rank or file, though no piece may land on or jump over another.

5. The kings move as other men.

6. A man is captured by surrounding him on opposite sides along a rank or file. The kings may not be captured, but may aid in capturing enemy men.

7. A player wins the game when his opponent is left with only a king on the board.


I used it for a project!!!!!

Aniya stinson - 13:33, 11/04/2018

this game is like chess

Katie - 20:14, 14/09/2018

Thank you for posting this Damian, I also used it for a project and I made sure to cite your website and the two authors mentioned above in my report.

Danger - 09:11, 17/09/2018

Hi Damian,

Leo and I are trying to develop a version of this whereby you take turns at deploying pieces, rather than starting static, we are using a oblong board of 16 x 8 and have fiddled with various abilities of pieces, it doesn't ever feel like a developed game however played, we've recently redeveloped Ur and Senet too and a derviative of them with a Viking Seafaring motif and the Midgard Serpent used akin to snamkes and ladders, Leo runs our FB Formby Vikings I don't go on the site, trying to stay off twitter too! We ran a UK champs in Tafl in 2019 at the Atkinson in Southport, went well, if you keep an eye out for dates you maybe could come across one time when we run the taster sessions or the finals.

Tony Higginson - 10:04, 27/12/2019

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