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The aim is to capture over half of the 48 playing pieces to win. Seeds or stones are often used as playing pieces and the board is usually of wood.

How to Play: Players alternate, each turn picking up the seeds from a cup on their side. You have the lower six cups. You go first. Click or tap on a cup and the seeds are sown counterclockwise, away from the original cup.

If the last seed sown lands on an opponent’s cup making it two or three seeds in that cup, those seeds are harvested and placed in your store (the large cup to the right of you). Then, if the next-to-last seed also landed on an opponent’s cup and made it two or three seeds, they are also collected. And so on. If you are sowing 12 or more seeds from a ‘kroo’ cup, you go right round the board. You must skip the original cup and leave it empty.

The two key rules are: “Don’t eliminate your rival” and “Your rival must not be hungry”. If your move would leave no seeds for the opponent to play, then the move is not allowed and you lose the game. If all your opponent’s cups are empty, you must choose a cup which will sow a seed onto the opponent’s side so he can carry on playing.

Just occasionally, with only a few pieces in play, neither side can win. You will have to settle for a draw.


This game, also known in French as Awalé and around the world by many other names, is one of the Mancala family of games. Unlike most board games you don’t own pieces; they become yours to play when they are on your side of the board. There is a good site to learn more at The Oware Society.

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