Rules of Fetlar Hnefatafl 11x11.

Short overview:
King armed, captured from 4 sides.
Repetitions allowed (draw).

1.   Two players may participate. One player plays the king's side, with a king and his defenders, and the other player plays the attackers. There are twelve defenders and twenty-four attackers.

2.   The game is played on a board with 11x11 squares and with initial set-up as shown:
Fetlar Hnefatafl 11x11 board
Initial set-up.

3.   The central square is called the throne. The throne is always hostile to the attackers (Black), but only hostile to the defenders (White) when it is empty. The king is able to re-enter the throne, and all pieces may pass the throne when it is empty.

4.   Besides the throne, the four squares in the corners are also restricted and may only be occupied by the king. The four corner squares are hostile to all pieces, except the King, which means that they can replace one of the two pieces taking part in a capture.
Fetlar Hnefatafl restricted squares
Five restricted squares.

5.   To win the game: The objective is for the king to enter any of the four corner squares. In that case, the king has escaped and his side wins. The attackers win if they can capture the king before he escapes.
hnefatafl defenders win
The king's side wins.

6.   The attackers' side moves first, and the game then proceeds by alternate moves. All pieces move any number of vacant squares along a row or a column, like a rook in chess.
move a tafl piece
Moving a piece.

7.   Capture: All pieces except the king are captured if they are sandwiched between two enemy pieces along a column or a row. The two enemy pieces should either be on the square above and below or on the square to the left and to the right of the attacked piece. A piece is only captured if the trap is closed by a move of the opponent, and it is, therefore, allowed to move in between two enemy pieces. A captured piece is removed from the board and is no longer active in the game. The king may take part in captures.

You can also capture an enemy warrior by sandwiching him between one of your pieces and a refuge square or the throne square. However, when the King is occupying the throne square, a single white warrior next to the throne square cannot be captured in this way.
hnefatafl piece is captured hnefatafl piece is captured hnefatafl piece is captured hnefatafl piece is captured hnefatafl piece is captured
Capture of pieces.
hnefatafl piece is not captured hnefatafl piece is not captured
The piece is not captured.

8.   The king is captured when the attackers surround him in all four cardinal points, or on three sides if he occupies the square next to the throne; the attackers must then occupy all surrounding squares in the four points of the compass except the throne.

The king cannot be captured on the edge, UNLESS he is the only white piece remaining on the board and is completely surrounded by black.
hnefatafl attackers win hnefatafl attackers win hnefatafl attackers win
The king is captured.
hnefatafl king not captured hnefatafl king not captured
The king is not captured.

9.   If the attackers surround the king and ALL remaining defenders, then they win, as they have prevented the king from escaping.
tafl attackers win
The attackers win by encircling all defenders.

10.   If a player cannot move, he loses the game.
hnefatafl player cannot move
The defenders cannot move and lose.

11.   Draws: The game is declared a draw if the same move or sequence of moves is repeated three times.


The Fetlar rules were outlined 2007 by the Fetlar Hnefatafl Panel, UK.
The game pieces in the online game were drawn by Aage Nielsen, Denmark.
The text above is modified from Sten Helmfrid's text on the Skalk variant.
Delray Curtis ("jrton80") helped further formulate the rules in proper and understandable English.


Play Hnefatafl online!



Updated 11.8.2018
Copyright © 1998-2018 Aage Nielsen, All Rights Reserved;