Hnefatafl: the Game of the Vikings

A New Proposal for Scottish Hnefatafl

Scottish Hnefatafl: the end of a game at
Scottish Hnefatafl: the end of a game at
Copyright (C) Aage Nielsen 2016

Monday, 20th June 2016

Aage Nielsen has been at it again.  He has recently run a tournament with an experimental set of rules to suit the hnefatafl boards found in Scotland.  The tournament results showed a reasonably even balance of wins for both sides, so they are a suitable resconstruction for a Scottish hnefatafl game to be used in tournaments and heritage events.

Most of the hnefatafl boards found in Scotland are a pattern of seven rows of seven intersections.  The centre is usually marked, but the corners are not.  So the brandub game that is such a success on the Irish boards (which requires marked corners) isn't suitable for the Scottish ones.

Aage's suggested rules differ from the brandub in that the king has to reach the edge, rather than the corner.  While this makes the king's task easier, another rule change balances things out: the king no longer has his protective central castle.  From the tournament results, this appears to produce an even-handed game.  With only four defenders, the king is immediately vulnerable and must work hard not to fall into enemy hands.

You can find more details about the game here.


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