Hnefatafl: the Game of the Vikings

New Ard-Ri Variant on Test at Dragonheel's Lair

The new ard ri at Dragonheels' Lair
The new ard ri at Dragonheels' Lair

Thursday, 22nd August 2013

Dragonheels' Lair is trialling a brand new version of ard ri, the supposed Scottish variant of tafl. This variant has an alternative layout at the start of the game, with some saying that the usual Ard Ri variant is not fully playable. Though the game has not been fully added to the site for all to play, a small tournament is taking place which any logged-in member can watch.

Ard ri is probably a modern variant, as it is not mentioned in any of the historic sources. Neither do we know how many pieces the Scots used in their hnefatafl games, archaeological evidence pointing more towards thirteen pieces on a board 7 squares wide than towards the 25 pieces in the ard ri. The standard variant has the pieces disposed in a square around the king, while the new variant has the pieces arranged as a diagonal cross.

I recently found a picture of a hand-made set with this arrangement and shared it on the social media feeds for this site (see the buttons in the footer of this page). Thibaut Palmans, who runs the Dragonheels' Lair site, picked up on a Facebook discussion about the picture and decided put this layout to the test on his web site, with other site members as willing guinea pigs.

You can view the tournament and see how the games go by registering or logging in to Dragonheels' Lair and visiting the link or searching for tournament 1838.


Hello, Since the article has been written, the game has now been opened to all at Dragonheels' Lair.

Thibaut Palmans - 19:07, 25/08/2013

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