Oware, A Game Of Strategy And Skill

Oware, also known as “The Warri Game,” is a traditional African board game that has been enjoyed for centuries. It is a captivating two-player strategy game that provides endless hours of entertainment and challenges your strategic thinking skills.

Origins and Cultural Significance

Oware is played on a wooden board consisting of several pits and pebbles and holds deep cultural significance in many African communities. It is believed to have originated in West Africa, specifically among the Akan people of Ghana and the Ashanti empire. It is played here in Gambia and beware among our staff there are some veritable masters. Throughout history, Oware has been more than just a game; it has served as a means of social interaction, a tool for teaching math skills, and a symbol of ingenuity and strategy.

Game Setup

To play Oware, you really only need some seeds or pebbles, the game can be simply carved into the earth. However, moving up a notch you will need a wooden board with twelve pits, arranged in two rows, and 48 pebbles or seeds. Each player controls one row of six pits. The board is placed horizontally, with the player’s row closest to them.

Object of the Game

The objective of Oware is to capture more pebbles than your opponent. Players take turns sowing and capturing pebbles from the pits in an attempt to strategically accumulate points.

Oware Game Rules

  1. The game begins with an equal number of pebbles in each of the twelve pits.
  2. The first player, determined by mutual agreement or a coin toss, starts by selecting one of their pits and distributing its pebbles one by one, counterclockwise, into the subsequent pits.
  3. Players take turns sowing pebbles, always moving counterclockwise.
  4. If the last pebble falls into an empty pit, called a “house,” the turn is over, and the player doesn’t capture any pebbles.
  5. If the last pebble is dropped into a pit that already contains pebbles, the player must pick up the content of that pit and continue sowing.
  6. Whenever the last pebble is dropped into an opponent’s pit, and the total count becomes two or three, these pebbles are captured and placed in the player’s “score pit” (the rightmost pit of their row).
  7. The capturing player continues sowing from the pit immediately following the captured pit.
  8. If the capturing player’s previous move leads to more captures, they must keep capturing until no more captures are possible.
  9. The game ends when one side of the board is empty.
  10. The player who has captured the most pebbles wins the game.

Strategies for Success

While Oware is easy to learn, mastering the game requires strategic thinking and careful planning. Here are some strategies to help you improve your gameplay:

  1. Opening Moves: The first few moves set the stage for the entire game. Aim to create future opportunities for capturing your opponent’s pebbles while defending your own.
  2. Special Houses: Pay attention to the special houses (end pits). Try to keep your pebbles in these pits to avoid easy captures by your opponent.
  3. Forcing Moves: Make moves that force your opponent into predictable patterns, giving you the upper hand.
  4. Counting Pebbles: Constantly evaluate the number of pebbles in each pit to anticipate future moves and potential captures.
  5. Securing Capture Chains: Look for opportunities to set up long capture chains by strategically distributing your pebbles.


Oware is a captivating pit and pebble game that has withstood the test of time. It provides a rich cultural experience, challenging gameplay, and an opportunity to sharpen your strategic thinking skills. Whether you are a seasoned player or new to the game, Oware offers endless hours of entertainment and a glimpse into the cultural heritage of Africa. If you would like to play this game at Footsteps just ask Dodou. You may find that playing can be kinda addictive but don’t worry we’ve got you covered, our onsite woodcarver, Malang can make you your very own board to take home so you can hone your skills and enjoy for many years to come!

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