Mancala World
First Description: Richard
Pankhurst, 1971
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: South Sudan

Rath ("palace") is a mancala game of the Shilluk who live in South Sudan near the frontier to Ethiopia. The Shilluk are Christians and have a king. Rath is a very unusual game because nothing can be captured.


The board used for Rath consists of two rows, each of seven to thirteen holes. Each player controls the row on his board side. The right-most hole is called rath (marked light grey in the diagram below) and serves as an accumulation hole.

At the beginning every hole contains four stones.


Initial Position (Most Challenging Variation)

On his turn, a player sows the contents of one of his holes, which contains at least two stones and which is not his rath, one at a time, counterclockwise into the following holes including his own rath.

The opponent's rath is skipped, unless the last stone is dropped into it.

If the last stone, falls into an occupied hole other than a rath, its contents are distributed in another lap.

If the last stone falls into the opponent's rath, the player takes that counter as well as one from that rath and places them into his own rath.

The move ends when the last stone is dropped into an empty hole or a rath.

A player must move if he can. If he has just singletons left, he must pass until he can move again.

The game ends when both players have only single counters in their holes.

Then each player counts the stones in his holes, the singletons and those in his rath. The player with most counters wins.

External Links


Pankhurst, R. 
Gabata and Related Board Games of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. In: Ethiopia Observer 1971; 14 (3): 204-205.


Adapted from the Wikinfo article, "Rath", used under the GNU Free Documentation License.