Mancala's are among the oldest boardgames known to man. They can be found in a huge variety of variants and under many different names from South Africa to the Phillipines. In his 'New Rules for Classic Games', Wayne Schmittberger remarks of the Glass Bead Game:

  • "Christian Freeling has created a mancala-type game that may make you want to forget all the previous ones you've seen".

The reason for his enthusiasm lies in a number new concepts I brought to the general principle and the way they interact.

  • In traditional mancalas all beads are equal. Here they come as gems & stones.
    • Gems have a point value ranging from 1-5. They can be captured, but cannot capture.
    • Stones have no point value. They can capture, but cannot be captured.
  • There are two mutually exclusive ways to make a capture, direct & indirect.
    Both allow for single as well as multiple captures

These concepts make the order in which the beads of a particlar pit are distributed, which is totally irrelevant in usual mancala's, an important issue. The strategical and tactical implications allow for a drastic reduction in the material needed. The Glass Bead Game is not only deeper and wider and more strategically rewarding than most mancalas, but also considerably smaller.

The Glass Bead Game is featured in R. Wayne Schmittberger's 'New Rules for Classic Games' (John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York - ISBN 0-471-53621-0).

The Glass Bead Game © MindSports
Java applet © Ed van Zon