Mancala World
Inventor: Jorge Gomez
Arrausi, 2001
Ranks: Eight by Eight
Sowing: Single laps
Region: Spain

Buku is a two-dimensional sowing game, which was created by the Spanish game designer Jorge Gómez Arrausi in 2001. He tried to make a game that would be hard to solve by brute force as there are millions of moves possible at each turn. Arrausi also invented Pilare.

Jorge Gómez Arrausi is a Lines of Action (LoA) world champion. LoA an abstract strategy game invented by Claude Soucie in the 1960s, which is already considered one of the greatest games.


Buku Board

Buku is played on a standard 8x8 chess board with 65 pieces (chips, seeds, cards) of one color. The square a1 (lower left corner) must be dark. Initially each square has one counter.

The game is played by two players, White and Black, facing each other. White is also called Row ("Fila"), Black is also called Column ("Columna"). It is said that white squares are owned by White and black squares by Black.

White starts.

Each turn consists of three steps:

  • First a player picks up the contents of a row (horizontal line), if he is White, or of a column (vertical line), if he is Black. It is even permitted to pick up the contents of an empty line, but players must pick up a line completely.
  • After that the player sows the counters starting anywhere he wishes. He puts the first counter on the square that was chosen by him, the second counter on an orthogonally adjacent square, the third one on another orthogonally adjacent square and so on. He is permitted to change direction but may not pass the same sqaure twice.
  • Finally he captures the contents of any squares of his color, which contain 3 or 4 counters.

The game ends when all squares contain singletons or are empty. The remaining counters are won by the player who owns their square. The player who captured more counters wins the game.

Special rules:

  • White gets an additional counter (the 65th one) at his first turn to prevent draws.
  • The game also ends when the board position is repeated by a player. Then all the remaining counters are attributed to his opponent.

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