I really need to learn how to play this game sometime….
As of this writing, several serious questions remain regarding the physical form of hnefatafl and its variants, chiefly the question of whether or not dice were employed. Even less is known of the rules regulating the players’ actions. There are enough literary and archaeological clues to piece together a vague reconstruction of the game and some of its most basic rules, but even these are uncertain and other important rules remain entirely unknown. So the short answer is, no one knows how hnefatafl was played. The reconstructed rules listed below represent a tentative reconstruction based on known literary references and archaeological remains, but even these are subject to amendment as more information comes to light with further study.
Several variants have been observed in contemporary literature, including Irish and Welsh references to a game featuring a king with four defenders against an attacking force of eight, an Anglo-Saxon variant featuring a king…
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