Mancala World

Esiema → German.

Inventor: Dr. Michael Günter
Friedrich Winkelmann, 1989
Ranks: Six (hexagonal)
Sowing: Single laps
Region: Austria

Esiema (from the German: Ameise (read backwards) = "ant") was designed in 1989 by Dr. Michael Winkelmann (1945-2015), an Austrian math teacher and game inventor. It was derived from Gulek. The game was published in 1990 by the Vock'sche Werkstatt. It is an unusual two-dimensional sowing game, which can be played by 2 - 6 persons and was derived from Gulek. Its suggested age is 8 and up and a game takes about 20-60 minutes. Esiema is a challenging game also suited for adults as a mindsport. If played with special pieces (cubes, cuboids, triangles, spheres, and so on), it can be played by the blind as well.

Michael Winkelmann also designed Gulek (1987) and Myra (1955).


The game board consists of 91 pits, which are arranged in a hexagon with each side having six pits.

Esiema board

Before the game starts, the number of spheres a player should receive must be agreed upon.

Each player gets a big sphere called the mother sphere ("Mutterkugel") and not more than 70 small spheres of his color.

Experienced players can leave their weaker opponents an advantage to make the contest fair.

At first 30 spheres are alternately distributed (one by one) into the pits in the following manner:

  • The distribution starts with the mother sphere.
  • The spheres can also be put into holes already containing spheres of either player.
  • It is not permitted to have more than 12 spheres in a pit.

The remaining spheres form the player's reserve.

After each player has placed his spheres on the board, the dynamic stage of the game begins.

On his turn a player empties a pit, which contains at least one of his spheres, and then distributes its contents one by one in any order he wishes into pits adjacent to each other. Restrictions:

  • These pits can be empty or occupied.
  • The path of distribution cannot arrive at the same point twice or return to the original pit.
  • The last sphere, which is dropped, must be an own one.

Any spheres of the opponent, which received the last sphere, are captured and removed, while the player's spheres are kept in the pit. However, there are a few exceptions:

  • If the last sphere was a mother sphere, nothing is captured.
  • The mother spheres protect all the small spheres in their pits, no matter which color they have. Therefore no spheres can be removed.
  • Singletons are allowed to move into an adjacent pit, however, they cannot capture. Reproduction:

If the singleton is a mother sphere, it is possible to add up to 11 small spheres from the reserve to her pit instead of moving.

When a player doesn't have any small spheres left on the board, he has lost and quits the game, if he can't enter new spheres in his next turn. The reason could be that spheres of his opponent are in the same pit as his mother sphere or that his reserve is depleted. The mother sphere of the leaving player is removed.

The game is won by the player who has reduced all his opponents to mother spheres.

If each player has just one small sphere left, the game is considered a draw, when no decision can be reached in the next 15 moves.

External Links


Adapted from the Spielwiki article "Esiema", under the GNU Free Documentation License in the German version. The list of authors is avalaible in the Spielwiki on this page.