Hnefatafl: the Game of the Vikings

Gaining the Victory

Victory will go to whoever's turn it is here
Victory will go to whoever's turn it is here

Hnefatafl is unusual in that the objective for each side is different. The king wins by one of two methods, depending on the game: either to reach the edge of the board, or to reach the corner. Games in which the king must reach the corner to win are usually distinguished by having the corner squares marked, and inaccessible to men other than the king.

The objective of the king's enemies is to capture him. In some games the king is captured by custodianship, while in others he is captured by enclosure, both explained on the capture rules page.

Some games have rules to recognise or prevent draws. Players will usually adopt a rule where a repeated move or position signifies a draw, as in chess. In some games, a draw results when a player is completely trapped and has no valid move, while in other games this is counted as a loss for the trapped player.

Next: Forming a Strategic Plan


Hi, I came across Hnefatafl entirely by accident via YouTube when a guy was making a set from scrap timber (nice job he did too). (Link:

So I started playing online (here: and initially got taken apart every time. Then..... "Stalemate". Delighted. And, before much longer VICTORY !

I'd been playing solely as "Attacker" (Black pieces in the above link). So having become competent as "Attacker", set out to learn "Defender" and lo and behold afte a few games VICTORY ! And achieved in pretty brief order.

Then, I have a whole string of defeats.... (Boooooo! Grrrr !).
Why ?
Because this online version "Kills the King" if he is adjacent to the central castle and pinned by a single attacking warrior.
Similarly, a defending warrior is  killed if adjacent to the central castle even if the castle is occuppied by the King !
Poor show I say !

Surely, if the King is behind his warrior then the warrior can not be tapped against the castle ?

This on a 9x9 board with eight Defending Warriors + King versus 16 Assailants.

Under this variation of the rules, the King inevitably loses a warrior after the first or second move.
All warriors can jump the central castle.

Is this variant correct, or at least common ?

I'm enjoying learning and will be building My own Hefatafl set before too long. (Pics when the day arrives).

Blu-Tone - 15:34, 01/03/2019

New Comment

Yes No