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How to Play Fanorona

Fanorona is a game from Madagascar that dates back to 1680. It is a beautiful game played with 44 pieces (22 per player) and has a unique method of capturing. The game has experienced a bit of a revival in modern times due to its inclusion in the Assassin’s Creed video game.

Step 1: Arrange the Pieces

Arrange the pieces on the board according to the following layout:

Fanorona Layout

Step 2: Learn the Rules

  • White starts first.
  • Pieces move from one point to another along a line.
  • Capture by moving a piece directly towards a line of enemies (approach).
  • Capture by moving a piece away from a line of enemies (withdrawal).
  • Remove captured pieces immediately
  • Player may continue to capture pieces via approach or withdrawal as long as the enemies are on separate lines.
  • Player must capture pieces if possible.
  • Only one capture is allowed on a player’s first move.

Player wins by capturing all the opponents pieces.

Step 3: Switch

After the first game switch sides and play again.

Fanorona is a really interesting game with a rich history. Although a derivative of the Moorish game alquerque, the unique capturing methods makes it stand solidly on its own.