The Ancient African Game of Wari

Note: This page is effectively unmodified since 2006 and is not maintained, apart from the fact that several broken links have been removed.

Wari (also called Warri or Awari) is a very old game from Africa. It belongs to the large group of Mancala games. All of these games are played by moving uniform pieces around a board. The board usually contains two rows of six or eight squares. Depending on the different versions there are differences in the exact rules, especially on capturing pieces. In almost all cases though a move implies distributing the pieces from one square one by one counterclockwise around the board.

Wari is a game of pure mental skill: no luck is involved. Only practice will allow you to reach a higher level of play.

I have spent quite some time programming Wari in several languages. The version below allows you to measure your skill against the computer. This program is free for redistribution, provided you do so without any change and without asking any fee.

Download Wari version 2.41 (~2,7 MB)

Here's a picture of a game in progress:


This is a graphical 32-bits version which runs on Windows XP or higher.

It features nine levels of play, analysis mode, complete take back and replay of the entire game, saving and restoring games on file, and a help feature with complete rules of the game with examples and strategy hints and tips.

What's new in 2.41?
Just one thing really. A few people mentioned it would be nice if the computer's reply wasn't immediate, because it's harder to see what exactly is going on. In 2.41 you can optionally slow the response down. Look under the options dialog to find out more.
In 2002 the Game of Wari was completely analyzed!
Almost 900 billion positions were analyzed by a computer attack led by a Dutch Computer Scientist.
So what does this mean for the game?
In my opinion it doesn't mean all that much. The game is far too complex for humans to play it perfectly anyway. Of course game analysis can now be perfect. For every legal position the optimal move is now known. But in practical play nothing much will change. People will still be playing the game and enjoy it. We always knew our moves weren't perfect, and the fact it has been proved scientifically doesn't really matter.