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The attacking force has the natural advantage at the start of each game, likely indicating an important cultural aspect by mimicking the success of Viking raids.Another cultural indication of the king is that importance of the Viking chiefs' presence in battle.
His version was played on an 11×11 board with 12 pieces on the king's side and 24 pieces on the opponent's side.
Sagas help indicate the widespread use of board games just by mentioning them—although rituals varied in the Viking period from region to region, there were some underlying basics to culture.
The fact that the sagas mention board games indicates this use because the sagas are read and understood by a very large audience.
And two move the men in the game, and if one [piece] belonging to the king comes between the attackers, he is dead and is thrown out of the game, and the same if one of the attackers comes between two of the king’s men in the same manner.
And if the king himself comes between two of the attackers, and if you say ‘Watch your king’ before he moves to that space, and he is unable to escape, you capture him.
The Welsh equivalent was Gwyddbwyll and the Breton equivalent Gwezboell; all terms mean "wood-sense".
This popular medieval game was played with equal forces on each side and thus was not a tafl variant, but rather may have been the medieval descendant of the Roman game Latrunculi or Ludus latrunculorum.In Orkeyinga saga, the notability of Hnefatafl is evident in the nine boasts of Jarl Rögnvald Kali Kolsson, who tops his list with skill at Tafl.The most revealing – and yet most ambiguous – clues to Hnefatafl lie in a series of riddles posed by a character identified as Odin in disguise (see Gestumblindi) in Hervarar saga.His passage states: The above tawlbwrdd should be played with a king in the centre and twelve men in the places next to him, and twenty-four men seek to capture him.These are placed, six in the centre of each side of the board and in the six central positions.Another of Gestumblindi's riddles asks, "What is that beast all girded with iron, which kills the flocks?