Hnefatafl: the Game of the Vikings

New Hnefatafl Games at On-line Play Site

Hnefatafl on the 15x15 board at
Hnefatafl on the 15x15 board at

Wednesday, 5th March 2014

Several new variants of hnefatafl are on test at, probably the site with the highest-level of strategic play. Mostly using existing rules with new board sizes and layouts, the new range of games available takes the on-line play site into new territory.

Aage Nielsen's site, which has been on-line for about a decade, has attracted some of the best hnefatafl players. Aage has put this resource to good use, by using the web site to test different versions of the game, new and old. While people of all skill levels are welcome, by having so many high-level players test a game, the results are not so tainted by beginner-level mistakes. Tournaments have been measured for balance, to see if a game is too far weighted towards attackers or defenders.

Until recently, the site has concentrated on games for the 9x9 and 11x11 boards. In recent months, though, 13x13 has been added to the mix. This was a popular size for boards in the Viking era, but has been less popular in modern times. Over the past couple of weeks, 19x19 and 15x15 boards have been added, too.

19x19 is the size for the mysterious game of alea evangelii. Many attempts have been made to recreate this game from historical sources, but so far the games have not been put properly to the test. Aage Nielsen has started by testing the 19x19 board layout with the rules for tablut and for sea battle tafl, which have been found to work well on smaller boards.

The remaining size, 15x15, has received little attention outside of this web site. The board found at Coppergate in York was of this size, but I was the first person to propose a layout for it, on this web site and in the book Reconstructing Hnefatafl. Now my layout and another, with fewer pieces, are on trial at, using the rules for sea battle tafl and tablut respectively. The coming weeks and months will see how well it plays.

To try out the new hnefatafl games, visit and follow the link to "Play tafl against other tafl players".


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