Hnefatafl: the Game of the Vikings

Play Hnefatafl Here

This is a virtual hnefatafl game, which lets you play against a friend or the computer. Your browser needs to be Java-enabled to run it. Don't be daunted by the panel: you can just press the PLAY button and go straight to the game. But if you learn to understand some of the options, then this game is very versatile. Pressing the HELP button explains the game and the other options on the panel.

If you want to investigate the options, then the best place to start is the ATTACKER and DEFENDER settings, allowing you to decide which side, if any, is controlled by the computer. The VARIANT setting is also useful: it allows you to quickly set the correct options for a number of popular hnefatafl variants.

The applet has its weaknesses. The computer player is weak, unless you increase the amount of time or number of moves ahead you allow it to think. Even when these settings are altered, it is not very good at games where movement is limited.

There are also some rules not available at present, including: hostile base camps, elite guards, single-captures, shield-wall captures, and Linnaean capture of a defender against a surrounded king. If you don't know what these are, then you probably won't miss them!

There is also no feature to play against others across the net. For this, there are a number of other sites on the "On-line play links" page which I recommend you try. You might find this applet useful as a practice pad for the games on those sites.

Next: Hnefatafl Puzzles


Hello, I'd love to play hnefatafl online as we're going to have an exhibit about England during the Middle Ages at the museum where I work. However, the Java securiy settings are blocking the app. I do NOT want to work around it, instead I would hope that you would follow this link to find the information that you need in order to meet the Java security settings. Perhaps this can't be done in time for me to have the experience of playing this game, but it may help others in the future. Thanks you very much. Dianne Vitaska

Dianne Vitaska - 16:04, 13/02/2014

Thanks Dianne for getting in touch. Unfortunately, having looked into this a couple of months ago, I find that it's not just information I need to fix this problem, but money too. I wrote the game a decade ago, and since it's designed not to access the visitor's computer at all, security wasn't an issue. Now I find that I need to "sign" it, which costs more than I can justify in this free app.

Since Oracle have decreed that only those with financial backing can now use Java for this kind of thing, I'm in the process of redesigning and rebuilding the game using something other than Java. But that's going to be the work of months rather than days or even weeks, so I'm afraid it probably won't be ready in time for you.

In the short term, the only way to use the applet is to work around the security settings, or use an alternative Java platform like IcedTea. Sorry I can't be more helpful at the moment!

Damian Walker - 07:49, 14/02/2014

Hey Dianne, Although you outright stated you do not want to work around this, there is a simple, safe fix should you change your mind. Simply click your start button in the bottom left hand corner of your screen, then use the search function to search for "Configure Java". From there, click the security tab, then click "Edit Site List". Click "add" and paste the URL to this site in there. This will enable the site and allow you to play the game. As someone who has played on here before I can guarantee it is safe. :)

Aleks Suchecki - 13:45, 20/03/2014

sorry gaming is cool

torstein - 09:25, 02/02/2015

This online game doesn't need Java and features an (optional) computer opponent:

Rob van Wees - 17:32, 08/09/2015

There is no explanation on how moves are made.  Is there dice involved?

Ben - 21:00, 20/03/2019

Java is gone the way of the dodo is there any way to download your applet to be run through my computer?

Jonathan - 09:43, 22/03/2022

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