Hnefatafl (King’s Table, aka “Viking Chess”) is a board game that originated in Northern Europe in the early part of the first millennium. The oldest board found to date was located in Denmark, dated to ~ 400 BC. Because no written history of that period exists the rules of this game had to be recreated, so there are no hard and fast rules agreed upon by those who play it.
In Hnefatafl the game is played on a square board (as pictured). There are five spaces on the board that are considered ‘special’. The space in the center of the board is the ‘Throne’ space, and the four corner spaces are the escape points for the King.
Unlike most modern board games, Hnefatafl does not start with even-strength sides (as in chess). The two sides are divided into ‘attackers’ and ‘defenders’. In the illustration, the pieces along the edges of the board are the attackers. The pieces in the center are the defenders. The objective of the attacker is to capture the King piece (center). The objective of the defenders is to protect the King piece long enough for it to escape.