Traditional Board Games

Hnefatafl Games

Hnefatafl is a varied family of games originating in Scandinavia, and played in northern Europe and across the Atlantic Ocean. Particulars of rules varied from place to place, as did the size of the board and the number of pieces employed.

Many of these variants had no name of their own, but were simply termed "hnefatafl", or "tafl" for short. An archetypal example is included in the list.

Alea Evangelii


An enigmatic variant of the Viking game hnefatafl, alea evangelii was recorded in the 12th century and said to be played at the court of the 10th century English king Athelstan. In hnefatafl games, the king tries to escape from the board with the help of his defenders, while twice as many attackers try to capture him. Alea evangelii is the biggest of these games ever recorded, being played with 73 pieces on a board of 19x19 playing spaces. ... (read more...)



Brandub is a game of the hnefatafl family, played by the Irish. It is the smallest known hnefatafl game. A king and four defenders face eight attackers on a board of seven rows of seven points. The king must escape to one of the corner squares, while the attackers must capture the king. All pieces move in straight lines like the rook in chess, and capture an enemy by surrounding it on two opposite sides. History of Brandub History ... (read more...)



The game of hnefatafl is unusual in having two differing sides. One, with the king at its head, has a number of guards with whose help the king must escape from the board. The other side is twice as numerous, and must capture the king before he makes his escape. It differs from traditional hunt games in that the king himself, though prey, has an army of his own, each defending piece having the same powers of movement and ... (read more...)



Tablut is a hybrid hunt/war game from Lapland. It is one of many variants of the old Norse game of hnefatafl, played throughout Northern Europe. A king attempts to escape from the board with the help of eight defenders. Sixteen attackers attempt to capture him. History of Tablut In 1732, the famous Swedish botan­ist Linnaeus took a tour of Lapland, keeping a journal of all that inter­ested him. Among the non-botanic­al observations that he included in this journal were ... (read more...)



Tawlbwrdd (pronounced something like towel-boorth) is a Welsh game, a member of the hnefatafl family of games introduced to the British Isles by the Vikings. These games are unusual among traditional games, in that the sides are unequal and the objectives different. A king and a group of loyal defenders occupy the centre of the board, and around the edges are twice their number of rebellious attackers. The object of the game for the king's side is to get ... (read more...)


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