Inventor: Michael Palm,
Ranks: Circular
Sowing: Single laps
Region: Germany

étoile (French for: "star") is a modern mancala game, which was invented by the German Michael Palm. The game was published in 1999 by HiKu-Spiele. It is a pattern-forming game, a cross-over between four-in-a-row and mancala. It can also be considered a stacking game.


The game is played on a star-like board by two or three players, which looks like a slightly enlarged Nine Men's Morris board with diagonal lines.

If two play, each person has 11 stones of their color. If three play, each person has eight stones of their color.

étoile board
First, the players alternately place one of their stones on an empty intersection of the innermost circle.

When all eight intersections of the inner circle are occupied, the second phase begins. On his turn, a player has two ways of moving:

  • He can put a stone from his reserve on an empty intersection of a line, which has at least another stone of any color. Then he picks up all stones of this line.
  • He picks up all four stones of a fully occupied line.

Next the player sows these stones in any order either clockwise or counterclockwise. The stones are dropped into ensuing lines, one by one, on the innermost unoccupied intersection.

If a line is already fully occupied, it is skipped. The direction of sowing may not be changed during a turn.

A player wins, if he has fully occupied a line by his own stones (i.e. has achieved a four-in-a-row) after the turn has ended. If the goal was reached by several players, the game is won by the player who didn't move last.


As a line is always filled from the innermost ("bottom") to the outermost intersection ("top"), the game could be viewed as a stacking game, which has the goal to make a pile of four stones of your own color.

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