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Roman doll 150 AD

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The Viking Game "HNEFATAFL"

--- the way the Vikings entertained themselves 1000 years ago

Click the picture below
to enlarge

The Viking Game HNEFATAFL was a popular board game during the Viking age but forgotten over the years. Based on archaeological research, the game is reconstructed and appears as it may have been played 1000 years ago all over the Viking world reaching from Ireland to "Gardarike" east of the Baltic Sea. The name "Hnefatafl" is an old norse word meaning the king's board or table.

HNEFATAFL is unique as it is asymmetric: The chieftain with his soldiers is outnumbered but defends himself against attackers and tries to escape. In the game, the role of the chieftain is very different from the role of attackers. The game rules are simple, yet it requires tactical skill to take the enemy by surprise and win the game. The Sagas tell about that.

The two players on the illustration to the right are playing HNEFATAFL. The chieftain in his castle in the center of the board may save himself from the attackers by fleeing into one of the corner castles without being taken prisoner during the flight.

The Viking Game consists of 1 chieftain, 12 white defenders, 24 brown attackers, and a textile board.

Instructions with historical background information are included in 5 languages: English, German, French, Japanses and one Scandinavian (Norwegian, Danish or Swedish). Instructions in Spanish and Icelandic are also available.


Playing Henfatafl.

From a Swedish rune stone.
(One of them is probably drinking mead, a common Viking drink!)