Rules of Hnefatafl 11x11.

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 1111 squares and with initial set-up as shown:
Hnefatafl 11x11 board
Initial set-up.

3.   The central square, called the throne, and the four squares in the corners are restricted and may only be occupied by the king. It is allowed for the king to re-enter the throne, and all pieces may pass the throne when it is empty. The four corner squares are hostile to all pieces, which means that they can replace one of the two pieces taking part in a capture. The throne is always hostile to the attackers, but only hostile to the defenders when it is empty.
hnefatafl restricted squares
Five restricted squares.

4.   The objective for the king's side is to move the king to 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.

5.   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 hnefatafl piece
Moving a piece.

6.   All pieces except the king are captured if they are sandwiched between two enemy pieces, or between an enemy piece and a hostile square, 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 A captured piece is removed from the board and is no longer active in the play. The king may take part in captures.
hnefatafl piece captured hnefatafl piece captured hnefatafl piece captured hnefatafl piece captured
Capture of pieces.
hnefatafl piece not captured hnefatafl piece not captured
The piece is not captured.

7.   The king himself is captured when the attackers surround him in all four cardinal points. When he is on a square next to the throne, the attackers must occupy all surrounding squares in the four points of the compass except the throne. When the king is on an edge square he is captured by three attackers, and next to a corner square by two attackers.
hnefatafl attackers win hnefatafl attackers win hnefatafl attackers win hnefatafl attackers win hnefatafl attackers win
The king is captured.


The text is modified from Sten Helmfrid's text on the Skalk variant.

Italian translation of this page. (translated by Sybil and Epoc, Italy).

See also the Fetlar rules, which are more balanced.


Updated 14.3.2019
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