Mancala World

Rondell → Portuguese.

Inventor: Ralf Gering, 2005
Ranks: Two (Expert Game)
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: Germany

Rondell is a rather unusual game which was conceived by Ralf Gering, Germany, on Maundy Thursday, 2005. The first game was played on Good Friday between the inventor and his mother Gundhild ("Gundi") Gering. Its rules were published on Easter Sunday.

Rondell (German for: "circular flower bed"; "round tower") is a Mancala game, a card game and a stacking game, all at the same time.

The game is about picking flowers, blue and red ones, to make up a beautiful Easter bouqet (for your wife, mother, or grandma).

Basic Rules

The cards, which are either blue or red, are shuffled by the first player who then distributes them face up one by one in a counter-clockwise direction to form an elliptical pattern of piles. Each pile represents a pit and each card is analogous to a seed in conventional Mancala games. However, the cards are located in a particular position, whereas in other Mancala games the spatial distribution of seeds is "amorphous" within a hole.

The second player starts the actual game.

At his turn a player selects any pile that has at least two cards, and distributes its contents in an anti-clockwise fashion. The top card is dropped in the same place where the selected pile had been, the next card on top of the next pile and so on ... , until the last card is distributed.

If the last card falls on a pile which had a card of the same colour on top, this card and the last distributed card is captured and removed from the board.

If at least two cards are left over afterwards, this pile is picked up and distributed in another lap as described. Otherwise the move is terminated. The move also ends when no cards are captured.

Piles are fully removed from play only by way of capturing, never by starting a move or a lap.

It is fully permissible to view the contents of any pile before a player decides which move he wants to do. However, any counting should be done mentally, not by pointing with a finger at the piles.

If it is a player's turn and the player cannot move, then the game ends, The game ends, if a player cannot move on his turn (passing is not permitted) or a cyclical pattern is reached. In the former case the remaining cards are acquired by the player who moved last, whereas in the latter case the remaining cards are won by the penultimate player capturing cards.

A pair of blue cards is worth two points, and any pair of red cards counts one point. The player who won most points is declared winner. As the sum of all points is odd (see "Special Rules" below), a draw is not possible.

Special Rules

The number of piles and cards in each deck can be varied in accordance to the following restrictions:

  • At the start of the game each pile must count the same number of cards.
  • At the first turn of the second player cards can be distributed in one or several laps (preferably two to three) not further than exactly one round, dropping the last card in that particular "pit" which was emptied first.
  • The sum of all cards that are used in play must be even.
  • The sum of all points that can be won must be odd.
  • Initially, there should be one or two pairs of blue cards more than pairs of red cards.

Two initial positions are recommended:

  • Short Game for Beginners: Nine piles with six cards each; 13 red pairs, 14 blue pairs; 41 points.


Initial Position: Beginner's Version

  • Long Game for Experts: Sixteen piles with seven cards each; 27 red pairs, 29 blue pairs; 85 points.


Initial Position: Expert Game

Rondell is a game of perfect information. It can be argued that a minor element of luck (or rather: inequality) exists due to the starting position, which, however, can be completely removed by playing the same initial position twice with each player starting once. The player who wins more points in both games together is declared the winner of the match. A match can also result in a draw.


The following variants are based on the Expert Game (2 x 10):

  • Rondell mit Reservierung ("Rondell with Reservation"):

After his turn has ended, the player is allowed reserve a pile for himself, which may not be used by his opponent to start the next turn. The reservation is only valid for one move.

  • Parteiisches Rondell ("Partial Rondell"):

Each player controls eight consecutive piles. A move may only begin with the distribution of a pile in his own area. If a player has no move left, his opponent continues to play while the other player would pass until he could resume his play or no player could move. Continued play counts as one move, so that the first player unable to play would win the remaining cards when a repeating board position would occur. In this variant it can be a clever strategy to destroy opponent's holes.

  • Michael's Rondell

Michael Reitz, one of the best Zèrtz masters, suggested on Easter Monday to distribute the piles from the bottom up to the top, which would make it easier to foresee the result of a lap.


Gering, R.
Happy Easter! (e-mail to Yahoo's Mancala Games mailing list). March 27, 2005.


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