Morabaraba

Traditional

Players
2
Age
5+
Time
40 - 60
# Africa
# Nine men's morris
# abstract strategy game
# Tactics
# three in a row
# Lines
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How to set-up

1. Morabaraba is played on a board consisting of 3 nested squares with points at the corners and in the middle of each side of the squares. Lines indicate permitted moves.

2. Each player selects 12 BEADs the colour of their choice. All BEADs start off the board.

3. Players decide who begins the game by rolling a die.

How to play

1. In the first phase of the game, players take turns to place 1 BEAD onto an empty space, trying to place 3 of their BEADs in a line.

2. When a player forms a line of 3 BEADs, they can remove any one of their opponent's BEADs from the game, except a BEAD already in a line of 3. If the opponent only has BEADs in lines of 3, these can be taken.

3. If two lines of 3 BEADS are formed with by placing a single BEAD, only one of the opponent’s BEADs can be removed.

4. Once a BEAD has been removed, from the board, it cannot be replayed.

5. The second phase begins when all the BEADs have been placed on the board. Players take turns to move their BEADs to an adjacent empty space, along the play lines indicated trying to form lines of 3.

6. A player cannot break their own line of 3 BEADs and then in the next turn, move their BEAD back to reform the line.

7. In the final phase of the game, when a player has only 3 BEADs remaining, they may move their BEAD to any empty space on the board.

How to win

1. To win the game, a player must reduce their opponent to 2 BEADs.

2. A player can also win if their opponent cannot move.

History

1. Morabaraba is a traditional two-player strategy board game most commonly played in South Africa, Botswana and Lesotho.

2. The game has similarities to Twelve Men's Morris, a variation on the Roman board game Nine Men's Morris.

3. It is said that Morabaraba boards carved in rock are dated to be at least 800 years old, which would indicate a non-European origin. However, many rock art images do not actually show Morabaraba, but the mancala game that is Moruba.

4. In the traditional European game the counters are most commonly referred to as men, but in the South African game the counters are referred to as cows, the game being particularly popular amongst youth who herd cattle.