Morabaraba is a two-player ancient abstract strategy board game that originates in Africa.  The close relative of this game is Nine Men Morris.


Morabaraba is played on a special board with 24 circle cells placed on three concentric squares.  The circles are connected with lines as shown in the following picture:


There are two players: the first one has 12 White cows and the second has 12 Black cows before the game begins.

The goal of the game is to shoot 10 opponent's cows or to block them so the opponent has no legal moves on his turn.


A "Mill" - a row of three cows of the same color on any straight line drawn on the board (i.e. the lines between the following circles: A1-B2-C3 or B2-D2-F2).

"Shooting a cow" - removing one of the opponent's cows from the board during the game.  The shot cow is removed from the board and cannot be reused later in the game.  If the opponent's cow  is part of a mill  then it cannot be shot.  The only exception is when all opponent's cows are in mills.  In this case any opponent's cow can be shot.


The game begins with an empty board.  Players move alternately, starting with the player having White cows.

The game play is divided into two phases:

  1. Placing cows
  2. Moving cows

During the first phase players place a single cow per turn in any empty circle on the board.  If by placing a cow a player forms a new mill (or several mills) of his color then he gets the right to shoot one of his opponent's cows.  The player can also skip shooting and pass the turn to his opponent if he wants.

After all 12 cows have been placed on the board the second phase begins.  During the second phase each player can move any of his cows to any empty adjacent circle along the drawn lines.  As in the first phase, if moving a cow forms a new mill then the player gets the right to shoot one of his opponent's cows.  Players are allowed to break their own mills and remake them repeatedly by moving their cows back and forth.  Each time a mill is formed the player is allowed to shoot another of his opponent's cows.  But keep in mind that breaking your own mills exposes the cows which were in a mill to the risk of being shot by your opponent on his next turn.

In the "Generally Accepted Rules" published by Mind Sports South Africa, a mill which is broken to form a new mill can't be formed again on the next move.

When a player has only three cows remaining they are turned into "flying cows".  These cows are allowed to "fly" to any empty circles, not just adjacent ones.

End of Game

The game ends in one of the following situations:

  • If one of the players cannot move then his opponent wins the game.
  • If one of the players captures 10 of his opponent's cows (i.e. his opponent has just two cows remaining) then this player wins the game.
  • If both players have only three cows each and neither player shoots a cow within ten moves then the game ends in a draw.

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