Hnefatafl, the game of the Vikings. Predating the popular game of Chess by more than 500 years, this age-old strategy game traveled with Scandinavian explorers, traders, and raiders alike, and was adopted by many of the cultures they came in contact with. This particular variant of Hnefatafl, utilizing a play grid of 9x9 squares, is perhaps the best known and documented version, from Finland. Handcrafted of fine hardwood, fully customizable, and featuring pyrographed historically-inspired art. The hnefatafl games are regaining attention and interest in these modern days; having been featured not only in films and TV but also contemporary literature. This resurgence has given creation to organizations worldwide dedicated to knowledge and mastery of the game; tournaments are held yearly in parts of the U.S., Europe, Australia, and the Far East. There are a great number of variants utilizing the tafl game mechanics, and all ultimately derived from historical sources and extant (archaeological) finds. Hnefatafl is an intriguing way to learn strategy and tactics, as well as an excellent means to spend quality time with a friend or family member. The game is intensely challenging yet not daunting, and has an infinite level of replayability. Each game board is created as a functional, fine piece of art with heirloom potential, built to last for generations. By the nature of their handcrafted creation, no two boards are ever created exactly the same.
This is a MADE TO ORDER item, with a processing time of 2-3 weeks typically. Your board will be made to your specifications and/or custom requests. Pictures shown represent past completed orders, and are intended as examples only.
- Hnefatafl board constructed of 3/4" thick hardwood (either Cherry, Maple, or Walnut); handcrafted and decorated with your choice of art and edge style. Only the finest selection of hardwood is used for a beautiful and enduring board that will last for generations. Other more exotic woods, such as mahogany, can be ordered by request. Wood color is attained by the character of the wood itself after applying a natural oil. No pigmented stains are used.
- All artwork is achieved through pyrography (the art of wood-burning by hand). A satin lacquer is applied last to protect the board surface and seal in the carbonized artwork details.
- Artwork available varies from historical to modern historically-inspired designs. Custom art requests and submissions are always welcome – please contact me with your request!
- Board has a playing grid of 9x9 squares, each square 1-inch wide, with a 2-inch artistic border surrounding the grid, for a total size of 13 inches square.
- Playing pieces (25 total) are included. Made in Maine by a local woodworking supply shop, then stained and finished by me in complement to the board. A drawstring cloth bag is included for storage of the pieces.
- Further customization can be done by specific request or by offered upgrades.
GAME HISTORY / HOW TO PLAY:
- Hnefatafl (pronounced "neffa-toffel") was invented by the Scandinavian people during the early Viking Age, and taken to all corners of the Viking world: from Scandinavia to Russia, Germany to the British Isles, Iceland, Greenland, and even as far as Turkey and Newfoundland. It was such a good game of strategy and cunning that not only did the Vikings play it but also the people they came into contact with; the Anglo Saxons, the Celts, the Welsh, and the Sami of Lapland (Finland) all came to love the game and produced their own variants. Hnefatafl is mentioned in the sagas, and skill in the game was held as a worthy virtue in Scandinavian society. When crusading knights returned from the Middle East in the early 12th century, it is said they brought back with them a game that would eventually eclipse the game of hnefatafl in terms of popularity – the game of Chess.
- The King, starting from an opening position at the center square, wins the game if he reaches any one of the corner squares along the outer grid edge. All pieces move as a rook does in Chess. The attackers win if they capture the King by flanking or surrounding him with two or more of their number. The strategies involved, as well as modifications to the rules of capture and movement for the different variants, can make the game more difficult than the base gameplay mechanics suggest. This 9x9 grid board game will come with artwork denoting the opening positions for at least two game variants that can be played on this size grid, such as "Tablut" and/or "Single Step", but other variants and even ‘house rules’ games can be adapted easily.
- A rules pamphlet for each variant of play represented on the board is included with the board and pieces.
Hnefatafl Game (9x9 grid variant) - a historic game of strategy predating Chess
Examples of available wood types and edge styles can be found by clicking the "Materials & Styles" link at the bottom of any page.