Real Viking Games

Orlog, created by UBISOFT for their amazing game Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, pulls its inspiration from real-life Norse mythology. However, it was not really played by Vikings. So, what games did the Vikings play? And how similar were they to our favorite board game, Orlog?

Tafl games were a type of board games played by Norse and Celtic communities in the Viking Age. Likely originating from the Ancient Roman game Ludus Latrunculorum, the game has similar origins to chess. By the end of the Viking Ages, hnefatafl was the most common name for the Scandavian game, “Hnefa” meaing and “Tafl” meaning table in Old Norse. Hnefatafl is a strategical, tactical warfare game, with similar strategy chess.

Hnefatafl board, photo from NTNU Vitenskapsmuseet


Boat burials around Scandinavia have revealed playing boards, playing pieces, shield-like dice bowls, and dice used by the Vikings for table game play. Many attribute these discovered game pieces to hnefatafl. The dice may have been used for a variant of hnefatafl, or for another game. Many hypothesize the dice may have been used for an early version of backgammon. The playing boards found in these boat burials were used for hnefatafl and nine men’s morris, another game originating in Ancient Rome.[1]

So while Orlog may not have really been played by Norse Vikings, they did play strategic table games, some even using dice and dice bowls! However, the real Viking games seemed to use playing boards. 

You can order the Orlog Dice Game here, now in-stock and shipping! 



Works Cited:

[1] Mark A Hall (2016) Board Games in Boat Burials: Play in the Performance of Migration and Viking Age Mortuary Practice, European Journal of Archaeology, 19:3, 439-455

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