Hnefatafl: the Game of the Vikings

Update: Playing Hnefatafl on this Site

Replacement applet: a work in progress.
Replacement applet: a work in progress.

Sunday, 27th July 2014

Some months ago I wrote an explanatory post about the applets that (used to) let people play hnefatafl against the computer. To recap in a sentence, the security of Java (the technology behind the applets) as been tightened to such a level that most users cannot easily run the applets here. The solutions for me have been to spend a significant amount of money getting the applets "signed", or redevelop them using some other technology. I've chosen the latter course.

I warned in my previous post that this wouldn't be the work of days or even weeks, but months. And five months later, I've been proven right. I am actually making some progress on this, as you can see from the screen shot. I can sort-of play a game of hnefatafl against myself.

Currently, the game verifies some moves and captures, and enforces the rules about playing in turn. The list of things it doesn't do is longer: it doesn't check for victory, it doesn't support 4-sided king capture, it doesn't support capture against marked squares, and it doesn't have any AI player. So it's not yet ready to put on the web site.

What's slowing development down is that the applet isn't just for hnefatafl. The old Java applet could easily be extended to play other games (in fact, the Hnefatafl applet was built on a simpler one that played Petteia). This new one is intended to be even more wide-ranging, supporting games with dice and casting sticks, games for more than two players, and games with virtually any shape of board.

So I'm not just developing Hnefatafl: I'm developing a handful of different games in parallel, which will help me to verify that the new program will cope with any sort of game. When I've finished the other games, they'll start to appear on my other games site ( while the hnefatafl applet will appear here.


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