Hnefatafl: the Game of the Vikings

New Board Game Book Features Tablut

A Book of Historic Board Games: front cover
A Book of Historic Board Games: front cover

Saturday, 8th November 2014

Tablut, the Sami version of hnefatafl, is featured in a new book by Damian Walker, entitled "A Book of Historic Board Games". The 234-page book takes a look at twelve different games in detail, discussing their history, presenting their rules, and giving some tips on strategy to help players new to the games.

The chapter on tablut is one of the largest, as you would expect from the man who also wrote the book "Reconstructing Hnefatafl". The history takes in the larger family of hnefatafl games, but soon focusses on tablut itself with its interesting lost-and-found story that has continued up to the present day. The rules are as you find them on this site, but have been more comprehensively illustrated in the book. The strategic discussion draws on the author's experience as well as from other books.

Unlike Reconstructing Hnefatafl, A Book of Historic Board Games is aimed at the general reader. Where Reconstrucing Hnefatafl proposed theories for putting games together, Historic Board Games takes games for which complete rules have survive (including tablut, if you forgive the little bit of interpretation that three researchers have come upon independently). So the histories are written to provide entertaining background, rather than to present a case. And the discussions on strategy also set Historic Board Games apart from the author's previous book.

Like tablut, the other games in the book have been chosen for their playability. They span four thousand years of history, the oldest being played before 2000 B.C. while the most recent was invented in 1899. There are a number of black and white photographs, some line drawings, and a large number of diagrams showing aspects of play. For those wanting to research more deeply, footnotes and a bibliography provide a route to further information.

"Reconstructing Hnefatafl was very much a niche book," explains Damian, "written for a particular type of reader--someone like me. I wanted the new book to have wider appeal. So the subject matter is a lot broader, and the style more accessible."

A Book of Historic Board Games is ideal for someone who has an interest not only in hnefatafl but in traditional board games as a whole. Its chapter on tablut, it is hoped, will not disappoint, but there is a lot more to the book for those who love playing this wonderful old games.

The book is currently available in hardback and paperback formats from Lulu. The pages for the books are here:


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