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Hnefatafl (hand board) is a board game played during Viking times. There are some different versions of this game, with boards with 7x7, 9x9 or 11x11 squares.

The exact rules of the game are not known (as far as I know). Probably there also where some variations in the rules in different times and places. Parts of the rules have survived and from that the game can be reconstructed.

The rules I have used here, I have put together from various sources. Iím not at all sure that the balance between the sides is even. There can be reasons to adjust the rules from that point of view.

I will be very happy for feedback on how playable the game is with this set of rules.
If someone has previously played any version of this board game and have experiences to share, that would be really interesting.


This game can be played by two players on the same computer.

The Black side has 16 warriors. The Red side has eight warriors and one king.
The goal of the Black side is to capture the Red King. The goal of the Red side is that the king escapes. The king escapes by reaching one of the corner squares of the playing field.

How to move a piece
All pieces are moved like a rook in chess. That is, any number of squares in a straight horizontal or vertical line. The piece may not pass over another piece.

Click on the piece to be moved and then on the square you want to move it to.

Restricted areas
Black page piece starts in the gray areas (camps). Red king starts on a red square in the middle of the board (the throne). Camps, the throne and the corner squares are restricted areas. A piece can be moved within a restricted area and moved out of the area, but can not be moved into a restricted area (except the king who can be moved into the corner squares).

A piece is captured when it is surrounded by two enemy pieces (right-left or top-bottom). The piece is captured only if it is surrounded by a move made by the other side. A piece that is moved to a square between two enemy pieces isnít captured.

A captured piece is removed from the board.

The King is captured by being surrounded on all four sides.

To capture a piece you may use an empty square of a restricted area to replace one of your pieces. An enemy piece standing next to an empty restricted area can be captured by moving one of your pieces to the opposite side of the enemy piece.

To start a game
Black player make the first move.
Crimzen250 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
this is very cool, i just finished making my own hnefatafl board and pieces
this will help me practice my strategies without having to set it up :D
PeKj Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2016
Thank you.
Glad if it is of some use to you.
Myself, I am not very good at actually playing the game.
B4LD3R Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Woah! good job there pekj!
PeKj Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2015
Thanks :)
PhoenixKing97 Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
What's with the title -.-?
PeKj Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2013
I'm not sure if I've understood your question correctly, but the title is the name of the game. It is as simple as that.

It is an old board game played by the Vikings and was spread all over northern Europe, until it was replaced in popularity by SkŠktabl (Chess).
The name Hnefatafl can be understood as "board game of the hand" (or fist), from hnefi ("hand" or "fist") and tafl ("board" [also the root of the word "table"]). "Fist" can in this case be a reference to the central King-piece. So you could translate the name to "Kings table".
PhoenixKing97 Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Sorry for being so rude, I thought it was a typo.
PeKj Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2013
No problem.
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Submitted on
November 27, 2011
Image Size
1.4 MB


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