Hnefatafl (pronounced: neh·fuh·taa·fl) sometimes referred to as Viking Chess, was a popular game in medieval Scandinavia and was mentioned in several of the Norse sagas. The rules of the game were never explicitly recorded, so it is not known for sure how the game was played. The game developed differently at different locations. Archaeologists have found editions in places such as Ireland and Ukraine.
Hnefatafl literally translates to "fist table", from the Old Norse (equivalently in modern Icelandic) hnef, 'fist', and tafl, 'table'.
The rules for Norse tafl were lost, but in the 1900s attempts were made to reconstruct the game based on the rules for the Sámi tafl game tablut. Unfortunately, the rules were poorly translated from Latin and gave unbalanced gameplay, mainly due to the mistaken idea that the king must be surrounded on four sides to be captured – instead of two. Different innovations were made to create a game that favored the defender side less, such as limiting the king's escape possibilities to the corners (instead of the entire edge of the board), making the king "weaponless" (unable to participate in capture), making the initial starting points of the attackers inaccessible for the king, and making it easier to capture the king against the corner fields of the board. Thus when playing, it is important to announce which specific set of rules you are playing under at the start of the game (is the king armed or not, can pawns occupy the carved, sacred spaces, do you need to capture the king on all four sides or just two, etc.). The game will come with a version of the rules that you can adjust as needed. Yes it's four pages long, but that's because I include lots of drawings. Sometimes pictures help.
One last important note. I'm still playing with how I want to make the game pieces exactly. There will be some version of white with a king and black with twice as many pawns. But I'm still playing with if I want to just make them black and white, if I want to add additional colors (like the set in the pictures), and so on. So, I can't really be more specific than that at the moment. If I come up with something that I feel like repeating every time, maybe I'll remember to update the pictures.
As always, this game is not recommended for unsupervised play by children 5 or younger or adults acting like them. Celtic war paint, drinking horns, and appropriate attire during play is optional.