Mancala World

Afrika → German, Portuguese.

Inventor: Ralf Gering, 2004
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Single laps
Region: Germany, Internet

Afrika (German for: "Africa"), a mancala game, was designed on March 2, 2004, by Ralf Gering in Bad Breisig, Germany.

The game was added to Super Duper Games (a hobby site for playing various freely available games over the web) on November 2, 2006. Soon afterwards another game author began to send the designer harassing e-mails in which he called the game "draw prone" and later, when no draws ever occured, he posted on Super Duper Games a "review" in which he called Afrika an "abomination" with a big second move advantage. In the following weeks the game was deleted from the BoardGameGeek database twice because one user erroneously complained that it is a flash-only game.

Afrika received five hate ratings on BoardGameGeek: the first one in 2008 by Chris Steere, after the game's author wrote a critical article about his father Mark who is well-known as a psychopath all over the internet. A second hate rating came from "abstractfan", a fan of the Spanish game designer Néstor Romeral Andrés, after several of his games (e.g. Coffee, Domina 4, Omega, Taiji) were identified by Ralf Gering as rip-offs that are based on earlier games. After a thread was opened on BoardGameGeek on March 8, 2012 to discuss this issue, three more hate ratings were given by Sam Houston (March 8, 2012), Sam Houston, Jr. (March 9, 2012) and Sam Houston, Sr. (March 9, 2012). These were all sockpuppets of Mark Steere, which was acknowledged by him in a public chat at igGameCenter (screenshots were taken as a proof). Their hate ratings affected all five games on BoardGameGeek, which were created by Ralf Gering. BoardGameGeek surpressed any discussion about these hate ratings, closing or removing threads and suspending the games' author for a day for starting a discussion in the complaints department of BoardGameGeek. Eventually all hate ratings were removed by BoardGameGeek except the first one.

Afrika has two unusual features:

  • capturing is compulsory
  • capturing is done without sowing seeds and considered a full move

Compulsory capturing is rarely seen in mancala games. Bao la Kiswahili and Kisolo are two traditional variants, which also know forced captures. Capturing without moving seeds is unique to Afrika.

The two strongest players are Ralf Gering (Germany) and Maurizio De Leo (Italy).


"Fast and fun, with a strategy that sort of sneaks up on you."

Laurie Menke


Afrika is played on a board with 2x8=16 holes. You can also use one half of a Bao board. Initially, there are 8 stones (the author takes black Go stones) in each hole.


Initial Position

Play is counterclockwise and single-lap.

If you have no empty holes which are opposite to a non-empty hole of your opponent, you distribute the contents of one of your holes, one by one, into the following holes. If there are enough stones, the starting hole is skipped. Then your turn ends without anything being captured.

If you have an empty hole which is opposite to a non-empty hole of your opponent, you must capture its contents. If more than one capture is possible, you can capture the contents of only one hole per move. You must capture the contents of the hole which contains the smallest number of stones, but if there are several holes with the same minimum number, you decide which contents you take first. If you can capture, you must capture. You may not distribute the contents of a hole and capture in the same turn.

The game ends when the board is empty. At Super Duper Games the game ends when one player has reached 65 points, but this is not an official rule.

The player gaining the largest number of stones is accounted the winner.

The first player has a slight advantage. As in the Japanese game of Go, the second player can get 2 1/2 points (called "Komi") to make the game fair.


Several strategies are known:

  • Sacrifices and forced moves are crucial for winning the game. Often players try to keep "sente" (a term borrowed from the Japanese game of go) by sacrificing the contents of at least two holes by winning a larger number of stones from just one hole.
  • In the opening the second player must play very carefull until he emptied each of his holes at least once. Otherwise the first player might be able to set up an advantageous 1 to 2 exchange and keep sente.
  • At the end of the game players try to move as many of his stones into the opponent's camp so that they can be attacked by him.

Statistical Data

A statistical analysis of the game has been conducted by its designer.


  • The game has a slight first move advantage (53%). Although a draw is possible, not one was observed. The rate of draws must be less than 2%.
  • The first move appears to be about 2.5 points worth (i.e. the first player should make at least 67 points to win by half a point).
  • The longest game (if played to its very end) took 108 half-moves (or "plies"), the shortest game 50 half-moves. The average length of a game was 74 half-moves.
  • The total score is always 128 points. The largest win, which was recorded in a real game, was 88:40 points.

Example Games

Game 1

Maurizio de Leo (Italy) - Ralf Gering (Germany), April 25th, 2007 - May 17th, 2007:

1. e G 2. h H 3. g E 4. h xd (+11) 5. xA (+13) F 6. g xd (+1) 7. xB (+13) xc (+12) 8. e xg (+1) 9. xD (+11) A 10. xD (+1) xh (+1) 11. xB (+3) C 12. b C 13. xG (+6) xf (+16) 14. e xf (+1) 15. xD (+3) B 16. xC (+1) xg (+3) 17. a H 18. d xa (+1) 19. xE (+3) A 20. h C 21. xA (+1) xf (+3) 22. xE (+1) B 23. xC (+1) xg (+2) 24. xE (+1) D 25. xE (+1) xe (+3) 26. xH (+1) F 27. b xe (+1) 28. xG (+3) xd (+1) 29. c xg (+1) 30. a xf (+1) 31. xH (+1) xe (+1) 32. h xd (+1) 33. xA (+2) xb (+1) - Gering wins by 2 1/2 points.

Game 2

Ralf Gering (Germany) - Maurizio De Leo (Italy), April 30th, 2007 - May 25th, 2007:

1. g H 2. h F 3. d H 4. xE (+11) xa (+12) 5. b D 6. f B 7. b xg (+7) 8. xG (+14) F 9. f xg (+1) 10. xC (+14) xc (+16) 11. d xg (+1) 12. xE (+4) xf (+1) 13. a xd (+1) 14. xH (+4) xc (+1) 15. b xd (+1) 16. xG (+1) xc (+1) 17. e A 18. h G 19. xA (+1) xb (+3) 20. g F 21. xG (+1) xc (+2) 22. xB (+4) E 23. xG (+1) xd (+2) 24. xF (+1) D 25. xG (+1) xe (+1) 26. xF (+1) A 27. xE (+1) xh (+1) 28. xB (+1) C 29. xF (+1) xf (+3) 30. xE (+1) H 31. a xg (+1) 32. e xg (+1) 33. xD (+1) xd (+2) 34. b xd (+1) 35. c xe (+1) 36. f xd (+1) 37. h B 38. xC (+1) xg (+1) 39. xA (+2) - De Leo wins by half a point.

The pits of the lower row are called A to H, the pits of the upper row a to h, both times as viewed from left to right by its respective owner. North starts each game.

Endgame Problems

Problem 1


South to move and win! (No Komi)

Be careful or you just get a draw.

Problem 2


South just made a mistake (sowing E). How does North win? (No Komi)


Benedikt Rosenau from Göttingen, Germany, suggested Give-away Afrika (a misère game) on November 10, 2010. The only change of rules is that the first player who captures more than half of the stones loses.


Dalton, A. et al. 
Game keeps disappearing (Afrika). In: Boardgamegeek, January 31, 2007. [Web site]
Gering, R. 
I love "Afrika" (e-mail to Yahoo's Mancala Games mailing list). March 5, 2004.

External Links


Problem 1

G!; e; xf (+1); xD (+3); xb (+4); c; xf (+1); xF (+2); xe (+1); G; xd (+1); H; A; xC (+1); B; xE (+1); C; xF (+1); D; xG (+1); E; xG (+1); F; xG (+1); H; a; xc (+1); b; xd (+1); c; xd (+1) South wins with 65:63 points.


D?; xE (a+1); xe (+4); b; xe (+1); xG (+5); xd (+1); c; xf (+1); xF (+3); xe (+1); h; xd (+1); xA (+2); B; xC (+1); xf (+1). Draw.

Problem 2

h!; xf (+1); xA (+2); xe (+1); c; xe (+1); xF (+12); ;xf (+1); b; xf (+1); xG (+8); xe (+1); a!; ; xc (+1); xH (+1); xb (+1); d; A; xG (+1); xh (+2); xF (+1); B; xF (+1); xg (+3); xE (+2); C; xF (+1); xf (+1); xE (+1); D; xG (+1); xe (+1); F; xG (+1); E; xF (+1) North wins with 64:60 points.


© Wikimanqala.
By: Ralf Gering.
Under the CC by-sa 2.5 license.