Mancala World
First Description: Kanga
Ballou, 1984
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: Ivory Coast

Woaley is a mancala game played in the Ivory Coast. The game was first described by Kanga Ballou in 1984. He wrote that it is a simpler game when compared to another "Woaley" he described, which was a variant of Oware. The term "Woaley is also used in Sierra Leone, where it denotes a variant of Obridjie.


The game board consists of 2x6 smaller holes and a store hole at each end. Initially there are four seeds in each of the smaller holes. A player owns the row closest to him and the store to his right.


Initial Position

At his turn a player distributes the contents of one of his holes exept one seed, which is left behind, into consecutive holes in a counterclockwise direction. A singleton cannot be moved.

If the last seed falls into an occupied hole, which does not contain two or four seeds, its contents are sown in another lap.

The move ends, when the last seed of a lap is dropped into an empty hole or a hole containing two or four seeds.

If the last seed falls into a hole, which has two or four seeds, its contents are captured.

Captures are permitted on either side of the board.

If there are more holes containing two or four seeds preceding the hole, in which the capture was effected, in a continous line, their contents are also captured. These holes can be on either side of the board.

The captures are collected in the large player's store hole.

If a player cannot move, he must pass his turn until he can play again. This is called a "lost move".

The game ends, when no one can play anymore. The remaining seeds are awarded to the player who owns their holes.

The game is won by the player who captured more than half (i.e. 24) of the seeds. He scores 12 points plus one "bonus point" for any extra seed he has captured in addition to the 24. His opponent scores zero points. If the game has been a draw, each player receives 6 points.

A match is a set of three games. The total number of points is summed up and the player with the highest sum wins the match.

A Woaley Victory is determined after three matches. In each match, the "advantage" is calculated, that is the difference between the scores. Finally, these advantage points are summed up and the player with the highest overall advantage wins a Woaley.


Ballou, K.
A Guide for Playing the Game of Woaley: A Fascinating Ancient African Game of Strategy. Les Nouvelles Editions Africaines, Abidjan (Ivory Coast) 1984.


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