Full Report for Hneftafl (King's Table) by Traditional

Full Report for Hneftafl (King's Table) by Traditional

Capture the King, or help him escape

Generated at 03/05/2020, 00:57 from 1000 logged games.


Start Position


The Tafl (table) family of games are ancient, and there is some variation in rules, board size, and setup. As such, I have listed some common elements, followed by specific variants in the rules here.

Common elements


No rules changes


No rules changes

Sea Battle Tafl

Alea Evangeli




General comments:

Play: Asymmetric,Combinatorial

Family: Tafl games,Traditional

Mechanism(s): Race,Capture,Stalemate,Movement

Level: Standard

BGG Stats

BGG EntryHneftafl (King's Table)
BGG Rating6.5368
BGG Weight2.5699

BGG Ratings and Comments

AnnemetteWN/AH 4
citizenjcf3CLASSIC GAME! Main Positives: I'm really fascinated with the historical connections of the game. Fun Factor: Very Low Complexity: Not very high Replayability: I want to play this game with someone who holds no punches. Main Frustrations and Caveats: Unfortunately, it came out to be a terrible game in terms of time. There are many times when pieces would go back and forth around the board and players might not realize how many times they went back to a certain situation in the board. A TIMED GAME is way better to play this game.
Barronmore8Can easily play with a standard chess set. Use the lines instead of the squares. Great game for chess lovers looking for something new and exciting, yet still similar enough to apply your full attention too. great game.
chrisib6Hnefatafl is an asymmetrical strategy game. One player tries to move the king from the centre of the board to one of the four corners while the other, more numerous player, tries to stop them. It's a simple game, but a pleasant change from other classic/ancient strategy games like chess, go, or checkers.
1974vertigo2009N/APnP - 1725
Arctic Jack8An old, deep, asymetrical abstract. Ticks all my boxes.
capsmoletN/AAncient 11x11 Tafl
gwoods649A great game.
cannoneer5Tafl is not nearly as interesting as many modern abstracts.
adamscott5I find it fairly dull and plodding, but it could go up with more plays.
AltugasN/A(Not played yet).
ConteckN/AYet to play
boenke7Only played it once, just have to find my tactics. Score will go up by playing the game more.
frankie719A True Classic
amandolin8Love this game! Assuming you have a big enough board and enough pieces, it's easy to scale down to a quick skirmish (Tablut), and scale up to a huge war (Alea Evangelii). I see the rule variations as a method of handicapping: the weak player can pose a real challenge if allowed to play the defenders using an armed king, who must be surrounded on four sides, and needs only to reach the edge to win.
Bgumness7Very original Probably slightly broken
Bjanze8.5This could eventually even challenge Chess as my go-to two-player game: fun, intense, easy to grasp but takes long to master. Also has seen a few pop culture references, such as Pratchett's Thud. Owned by a friend.
baldrick6Interesting asymetrical strategy game. It's quite tricky to win if you're playing the King.
Omnias10I own the Marbles the Brain Edition, it is very well made, and the game is quite fun to play with others. You do have to adapt to the optimal strategies for attacker and defender, and I think there may be a slight advantage to a skilled attacker.
Steamboat Willie10
MENAREUS200010If there was only one game that I'd have to play for an eternity, I'd play the "Copenhagen Variation" of Hnefatafl, played on an 11 X 11 board.
Admiral Fisher6Very unusual. Played this in Germany against a German maths lecturer (who doesn't like German games!) Not unsurprisingly, he beat me several times. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it and the fact that playing the two sides is a very different experience. My version is called the "Viking Game."
4characters8Interesting hinge in the game when the intricate opening stage of positioning gives way usually through sacrificial moves to the escape and pursuit of the king during which the entire dynamic of the game changes. This duality is unique in abstract games I think, and it's interesting to think that it was present in such an ancient game
BarcSsarc8.25Great abstract game. Feels timeless. Game pieces are unforgettable, and the strategy is subtle. This is also one of the very few asymmetrical abstract games out there, which is surprising, given its ancient origins. I do recommend finding rules variations online, and playing enough to tweak your ruleset according to your tastes. It seems that many people are in disagreement over exactly how to play, and the rules that came with my set feature some questionable mechanics.
catenateN/AMade my own Lego board. :)
El Diabolo8.9A gem of a game. More a family of games rather than a single game. I like playing the 7x7 version as a quickplay abstract that is satisfyingly deep.
Hrothwell10Great precursor to chess, simple rules that are easy to learn, hard to master. Many variants so always learning new rules.
AslanFrodoN/ADragon #128. aka Hnefatafl.
Connor Nutton10
caesarmom8[The Game Ned Kelly] Rating based on one intense game. Nifty little abstract!
RichardWilks10A classic. Easier than chess or go.
masdero9Hand made version in leather and glass
byturn6king's table. classic asymmetric abstract of viking origin.
Tassadar8710I just love it, simple in design but very deep. I have my game bought from the Viking Museum at York. Very good quality pieces and a cloth board that makes really easy to take it anywhere!
Tcc6159An old unique abstract with a cool play style
Anakin19817A very nice 2-player strategy game in the manner of chess/checkers where the one side has to capture the king and the other to make him escape.
whac310See review.
DonB9I own an Australian variant of this game which goes by the name "The Game Ned Kelly." This has some new rules that help to balance the original game. One of the things that make this game interesting is that you have to watch all parts of the board all the time as a move on one part of the board can have a big impact on the situation on another part of the board. I also enjoy the fact that you have to play the game quite differently depending on which side you are playing. There is quite a bit of hidden depth to the game.
fredric_barrett9Deep game. Up there with Go and Chess.
Alpheratz8My version of this game is called The Viking Game, it has the cloth board and the (wonderful!) crushed-stone-and-resin pieces that are shown in some of the pictures posted by others. A very charming ancient game, I enjoy it just as much as chess, although I have not played as black (attackers) yet. I only wish I had a drinking horn and some mead when I play!
Alea IstropolitanaN/APeťo B.
alethic4Game design has come a ways in the last 1,600 years. Not a great game.
BastardCafeN/A2 108.5
CormanoWildN/AStrategy game. Abstract. Two player. "The Viking Game." 2006. Complete. / "Hnefatafl." 2005. Complete. Sell 1 of these.
Istanbul Jackson9
snigfarp10This is my favourite game. The tantalising remains in archaeology and history, just short of what we need for a true reconstruction, add for me an air of mystery to the game. The variety of original variations, and the greater variety of good modern reconstructions, provide a wide range of strategic possibilities. There's much more to be researched on this game, so it's rewarding to the player and the scholar alike. I'm obsessed.
Brewtal_LegendN/AI love this game. An excellent abstract game of strategy. I actually made my own board from marble textured backing board and stones. I decorated it with odin's rune on the corners and the king piece is a blue stone. The other stones are clear and amber colored.
boulderman7Berkshire Open Tournament Champion 2017
BlueCherryFaerieN/AAlso known as Viking Chess & King's Table. We picked up a canvas version of this game from the Renaissance Faire
Brennus8Had to have this one - I love almost everything Viking themed. Bought it from NorseAmerica.com - love the cloth board and the pieces. Great intro piece for new gamers - the idea of one side starting out with a major advantage always gets people thinking outside of the Monopoly/GameofLife box.
blutovs5Ancient viking game for 2. Players move like rooks. The Barbarians need to surround the king, and the kinf needs to get to the corner. It's nice to see 2 different objectives in this low time high strategy game where you can try both sides in quick fashion.
2bago7We have a family copy, bought in the late 80s, and initially we found it essentially impossible to win as the defending side (with the king) if the other player played well. But after playing it many more times, the situation was completely reversed and we found it nigh impossible to win as the attacking side. It has since lived in a cupboard for a long time; we recently came across it and discovered we had regressed to being complete novices. It's certainly more abstract than the other games in our collection, but I'd quite like to keep playing it on occasion.
Alwin6Intriguing chess like variant. Old Viking game.
Annix3I got this game when I was 10 and played it some with my brothers and parents. However, we deemed it too unbalanced to be enjoyable so after the initial months it did not see much play and what may still be left of my game copy has been collecting dust for several decades. Possibly more experience or some tweaking of the rules could make for a better game, as there are suggestions in that direction on this forum. We played by the rules provided by Alga in their edition from the seventies or eighties.
AnttiT8Nice abstract game. Not as deep as chess or go, but beats checkers. Asymmetric players work nicely, and even feel balanced.
sqalman9Har ett eget hemgjort!
xerossilence9I'm instantly in love with this game. The mechanics are so simple, and yet I find myself staring at my options trying to see what I've missed, trying to out think my opponent. In the few games I've played both players have found themselves acting very conservatively, lest we lose too many pieces. I love the asymmetry. I think I'm better as the invaders than the king's side, but time will tell on that with more plays. This game is exceedingly satisfying, and a new favorite of mine. [tag B1 abstract]
bucklen_uk5I'm not sure the sides are balanced!
beckeykevinN/APlayed once as the escaping King. The playing pieces were made out of animal bones.
Captain PlankN/APlayers: 2 Time: 20 min
Viluir9Bardzo dobra na lapry!
Big Lar5Ok for a few plays as a diversion. Very hard to win with black.
Akeem8My rating went up recently when I started to play again. I look forward to getting better at this game.
BenjaminvikingN/AGame is complete. A couple of brown pieces show some small chips near their base. All the rest of the pieces are in very good shape. Cloth board is nice. Box is slightly stained in a couple of places, shows shelf wear, and also some minor damage where tape has been removed. ***Traded away for a copy of Ghost Blitz 2.0***
Bridget JN/AWe have a cloth board version of this game identical to the one in image #133736, with different pawn pieces, purchased from a merchant at Pennsic.
corkysruN/ABLue box version
AlexonN/A1 (0 in 2018)
AssaultMarine7Handmade leather and rocks with something like glass burned into it by a guy from medieval convention - looks like a leather bag can be opened into a board :) So happy to obtain it
3pic_Win10Very advanced strategy is involved once you get the hang of it. The sides aren't balanced perfectly, but when played with the "fetlar" rule set, it's pretty darn close. The strategy for black (non-king side) is harder to realize at first, and this will be frustrating for many beginners. (But stick with it!) This is my favorite board game ever. The "best" set of rules in my opinion is the "Fetlar" rule set. (Google it) Smaller boards are more unbalanced and less fun. (Like the 7x7 and 9x9 variants) (IMO) 11x11 is the largest I've played. Maybe an even larger board is even better? I'll have to try 13x13 next. I made my own board with plywood when I decided that I really liked the game. It's really an awesome game. You just need to get into a mindset/strategy that's uncommon in most modern board games.
lizlam10Great game with tons of different variations out there. Strategic like chess but much easier to teach and play.
Mike P9
BattleZone3Give me Dustin Hoffman or give me death! Seriously, talk about using a movie to get sales....
Butsudoka9I'm very ambivalent about this game. The game might have issues, most notably that it might invite to draws, but I haven't been able to find any sources which offer conclusive answers. What complicate matters is that there are different sets of rules, and I'm not sure which one's the best. In any case, I thoroughly enjoy the asymmetric and unusual gameplay, so I don't hesitate giving it a high grade despite my doubts.
dnjkirk9Played this all through university after making a board using fabric and go pieces.
ccarlet17A very cool game--a real brain burner.
AllThingsSpringN/AIntrigued by what I've read about this.
CasebierN/APurchased at Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Bean_Gaming_UKN/ALearning Difficulty: Medium
Bennae7Ancient viking game, most sets are home made. Asymmetrical abstract 2 player alternative to chess. Strange to some, but i am a fan. Im making a custom set with Fimo! (Knights Templar vs Jesus and his cardinals)
amwilesN/Awishlist; never played
CheetohFingersN/ANorse abstract that I need to try out.
AlPacino116.5Neat abstract game!
hvg3akaek9A great game! Looked for it for years before finally getting a copy of ebay. Only problem is that it requires much more skill than games such as settlers. meaning: a settler vet and newbie can still have a fun game together. however, in The Viking Game, the newbie will be wiped... which means I am lacking for people to play against!
yessir9I recently rediscovered this game and I fell in love with it. It takes a while to master and truly appreciate its complex strategy. Great depth of move, very similar to chess.
CrazyCod5Is it me, or is it just weird that this extremely imbalanced game is higher ranked than poor, perfectly fair and symmetric Chinese Checkers?
AgentPLE8Liked it a lot. I would love to explore its depth.
BettyEganN/ABill and Leona picked this one up for me while they were in Norway. Thanks!!
Azaka7Self made
bwolfheart5Great strategic game. Like chess but historically much older. All pieces move like the rook and you capture a piece by positioning your pieces on opposing flanking sides. In a move called a "anvil and hammer" Is a little unbalanced in that the kings side usually wins more. The king is a rather powerful piece. There are some variants in advanced play that level and balance the game for both sides. And Balance the King. There is also different ways to set up the board and different ways to play. One game that has great replay value. A great game for strategic thinkers and people who love games like chess.
Colonnello Vincent9
Augustine8Handmade board for sale.
babajiN/AMissing one of eight King's guards.
Bentendo648Simple and clean.
crimescene7We love chess, so we also like this game. Play it with Met (honey wine) like the vikings. PnP
Linked Grest10
Asasel5Norse chess.
skallatorc10I have a penchant for anachronistic games and since I was a historical reenactor as well as a Northman, Tafl has been my go to game. I play it online because there are few local who play.
sneakypete219A fantastic 1v1 abstract game that I am very bad at. I love how all the pieces act in exactly the same way but the two teams have entirely opposing goals to win the game. Excellent.
Andr0ss6It's an ancient abstract game. If this is your thing, you'll likely love it. If you're curious, give it a chance. If abstract isn't your thing then don't bother. Need anything more be said?
christianlafferla7en caja custom
ryanmaesen10My girlfriend surprised me with this game not too long ago. It's a simple game to learn but incredibly difficult to master. It pre-dates chess. Created by the Vikings in around 400 bc, it's a fun strategy game that challenges your survival skills. I've had some amazing wars with my girlfriend and look forward to sharing this game with friends. This game defiantly needs to be experienced! Fight to kill the King by "sandwiching" your enemies, or switch sides and try to get your King off the battlefield to safety. Easily one of my new top 10 games!! Hnefatafl is also know as Talf, Kings Table, and The Viking Game. Check it out!! I think you'll love it!
clark948Its refreshing to play an asymmetrical abstract game with different goals instead of just different forces.
AsterionIXN/AGot it as a gift from my parents from their trip to Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
cdefrisco6A good 2-player game of opposite sides. I tend to steer away from games where the sides are not equal (like CCGs) but whenever I sit down to play a few rounds of this, it's always fun and tense.
CDRodeffer7This one got a bit of analysis at one of the meetings of a few local abstract gamers.
barbab9Homemade version 11x11
amacleod6Very simple, yet very tricky abstract. It's wonderful (and unusual) that it's an abstract where the two players have different objectives!
Albireo7I own two copies. One made by Past Times and given as a present by my brother and his wife in about 1995, and one given by friends Nathan and Emma for Christmas 2015. This is a good game, deserving of more play. Quite quick (the way I play) and nicely made.
fripono8Hugely enjoyable game where, for once, the old "minute to learn, lifetime to master" adage is not inaccurate. The rules, as published in the popular History Craft version are certainly playable, but very biased towards the defending side. The best and most playable variation I have found is to restrict the king to a move of 3 squares, allow him to be captured in the same way as any other piece and to designate the escape squares and throne square as hostile i.e. a piece may be captured by sandwiching against one of these squares.
Blind Reality5.2Challenging game with very nice components. Picked up when travelling through Norway. Gameplay: :star::star::star::halfstar::nostar: Replayability: :nostar::nostar::nostar::nostar::nostar: Fun/Social: :star::star::halfstar::nostar::nostar: Components: :star::star::star::star::nostar: Rules: :star::star::star::nostar::nostar:
laegteskov8.5A fun 2-player abstract. I admire this game because of the different setup for the two players (attacker / defender)
angyi7Asymmetric game that works well and isn't supposed to be balanced. Both roles are exciting, then you usually switch sides for a rematch.
camisdad7Pretty version by History Craft. Fun to play, Cameron likes it, unbalance is enjoyable. There seems to be somewhat of a solution for it, where black can set up an encirclement and progressively tighten the noose. I could be wrong, as I am not playing again a strong opponent.
nello8.5Probably better a board of 11 x 11 squares..it makes easier for the attackers to get the vi-king. Probably better a board of 13 x 13 squares..it makes easier for the king to reach the corner. Played first time -> November 1975.
BozoDel6(gotta try Copenhagen, Berserk, Sea Battle and Single-Step)
ZaxxonValdez9Quick fun for two.
bloseth6Lok: BHKJ040204
bren_ticus9Love how simple this game is while still having so much strategy. The imbalance between attackers and defenders isn't ideal, but if you're not playing too seriously it isn't debilitating and there are a whole ton of rule variants that help with it, too.
ameberly14Son found out about it in a book about vikings and I found PnP version on line.
arnest_r6.5online only
B_J_S6[Bought from Johan C. FB 2018-07-23] NPY
Beyak6I played this game years ago. I remember that even though the sides were unequal it was still fun to play. I recall that it was more difficult for one of the sides to win. This actually made it a better game for adults to play with children.
comandantedavid6OWN pnp version WANT nestorgames edition

Kolomogorov Complexity Estimate

Size (bytes)33361
Reference Size10293

Ai Ai calculates the size of the implementation, and compares it to the Ai Ai implementation of the simplest possible game (which just fills the board). Note that this estimate may include some graphics and heuristics code as well as the game logic. See the wikipedia entry for more details.

Playout Complexity Estimate

Playouts per second3020.84 (331.03µs/playout)
Reference Size593436.59 (1.69µs/playout)
Ratio (low is good)196.45

Tavener complexity: the heat generated by playing every possible instance of a game with a perfectly efficient programme. Since this is not possible to calculate, Ai Ai calculates the number of random playouts per second and compares it to the fastest non-trivial Ai Ai game (Connect 4). This ratio gives a practical indication of how complex the game is. Combine this with the computational state space, and you can get an idea of how strong the default (MCTS-based) AI will be.

Playout/Search Speed

LabelIts/sSDNodes/sSDGame lengthSD
Random playout3,43425671,1324,61319521

Random: 10 second warmup for the hotspot compiler. 100 trials of 1000ms each.

Other: 100 playouts, means calculated over the first 5 moves only to avoid distortion due to speedup at end of game.

Mirroring Strategies

Rotation (Half turn) lost each game as expected.
Reflection (X axis) lost each game as expected.
Reflection (Y axis) lost each game as expected.
Copy last move lost each game as expected.

Mirroring strategies attempt to copy the previous move. On first move, they will attempt to play in the centre. If neither of these are possible, they will pick a random move. Each entry represents a different form of copying; direct copy, reflection in either the X or Y axis, half-turn rotation.

Win % By Player (Bias)

1: Attacker(red) win %10.45±1.75Includes draws = 50%
2: Defender(white) win %89.55±2.05Includes draws = 50%
Draw %13.10Percentage of games where all players draw.
Decisive %86.90Percentage of games with a single winner.
Samples1000Quantity of logged games played

Note: that win/loss statistics may vary depending on thinking time (horizon effect, etc.), bad heuristics, bugs, and other factors, so should be taken with a pinch of salt. (Given perfect play, any game of pure skill will always end in the same result.)

Note: Ai Ai differentiates between states where all players draw or win or lose; this is mostly to support cooperative games.

Levels of Play

AIStrong WinsDrawsStrong Losses#GamesStrong Win%p1 Win%Game Length
Rαβ + ocqBKs (t=0.01s)360036100.0047.2242.14
Rαβ + ocqBKs (t=0.07s)311134581.1127.7892.00

Level of Play: Strong beats Weak 60% of the time (lower bound with 90% confidence).

Draw%, p1 win% and game length may give some indication of trends as AI strength increases; but be aware that the AI can introduce bias due to horizon effects, poor heuristics, etc.


Game length63.15 
Branching factor97.17 
Complexity10^123.49Based on game length and branching factor
Samples1000Quantity of logged games played

Computational complexity (where present) is an estimate of the game tree reachable through actual play. For each game in turn, Ai Ai marks the positions reached in a hashtable, then counts the number of new moves added to the table. Once all moves are applied, it treats this sequence as a geometric progression and calculates the sum as n-> infinity.

Move Classification

Distinct actions2270Number of distinct moves (e.g. "e4") regardless of position in game tree
Killer moves30A 'killer' move is selected by the AI more than 50% of the time
Killers: a5-a1,k3-k1,a2-a1,d11-a11,j1-k1,k8-k11,c1-a1,i1-k1,j11-k11,k2-k1,h11-k11,a8-a11,e11-a11,i11-k11,a10-a11,k4-k1,k7-k11,g1-a1,k9-k11,c11-a11,d1-a1,k5-k11,h1-k1,b11-a11,a6-a1,k10-k11,a9-a11,a3-a1,b1-a1,a7-a11
Good moves668A good move is selected by the AI more than the average
Bad moves1602A bad move is selected by the AI less than the average
Terrible moves189A terrible move is never selected by the AI
Too many terrible moves to list.
Samples1000Quantity of logged games played

Board Coverage

A mean of 36.23% of board locations were used per game.

Colour shows the frequency of visits.

Change in Material Per Turn

This chart is based on a single playout, and gives a feel for the change in material over the course of a game.


Table: branching factor per turn.

Action Types per Turn

This chart is based on a single playout, and gives a feel for the types of moves available over the course of a game.

Red: removal, Black: move, Blue: Add, Grey: pass, Purple: swap sides, Brown: other.


This chart shows the best move value with respect to the active player; the orange line represents the value of doing nothing (null move).

The lead changed on 5% of the game turns. Ai Ai found 1 critical turn (turns with only one good option).

Position Heatmap

This chart shows the relative temperature of all moves each turn. Colour range: black (worst), red, orange(even), yellow, white(best).

Good/Effective moves

MeasureAll playersPlayer 1Player 2
Mean % of effective moves90.08100.0080.17
Mean no. of effective moves84.30119.5049.10
Effective game space10^-∞10^20.7610^-∞
Mean % of good moves50.08100.000.17
Mean no. of good moves59.80119.500.10
Good move game space10^20.7610^20.7610^0.00

These figures were calculated over a single game.

An effective move is one with score 0.1 of the best move (including the best move). -1 (loss) <= score <= 1 (win)

A good move has a score > 0. Note that when there are no good moves, an multiplier of 1 is used for the game space calculation.

Quality Measures

Hot turns60.00%A hot turn is one where making a move is better than doing nothing.
Momentum0.00%% of turns where a player improved their score.
Correction70.00%% of turns where the score headed back towards equality.
Depth3.57%Difference in evaluation between a short and long search.
Drama16.26%How much the winner was behind before their final victory.
Foulup Factor75.00%Moves that looked better than the best move after a short search.
Surprising turns0.00%Turns that looked bad after a short search, but good after a long one.
Last lead change85.00%Distance through game when the lead changed for the last time.
Decisiveness20.00%Distance from the result being known to the end of the game.

These figures were calculated over a single game, and based on the measures of quality described in "Automatic Generation and Evaluation of Recombination Games" (Cameron Browne, 2007).



Opening Heatmap

Colour shows the success ratio of this play over the first 10moves; black < red < yellow < white.

Size shows the frequency this move is played.

Unique Positions Reachable at Depth


Note: most games do not take board rotation and reflection into consideration.
Multi-part turns could be treated as the same or different depth depending on the implementation.
Counts to depth N include all moves reachable at lower depths.
Inaccuracies may also exist due to hash collisions, but Ai Ai uses 64-bit hashes so these will be a very small fraction of a percentage point.

Shortest Game(s)

No solutions found to depth 5.