Full Report for Fanorona by traditional

Full Report for Fanorona by traditional

A traditional game from Madagascar

Generated at 01/06/2020, 10:03 from 1000 logged games.


Representative game (in the sense of being of mean length). Wherever you see the 'representative game' referred to in later sections, this is it!


Each move, you move a piece one space along a line. Capturing is compulsory, and results under the following circumstances:

If both of the above apply, choose one.

After capturing, the same piece may move again; so long as each subsequent move results in a capture. During the continuation moves, you may not move twice in the same direction, or revisit the same space.


Capture all your opponent's pieces to win.


There seems to be some debate as to whether continuation captures are optional or required. Ai Ai allows you to choose.


General comments:

Play: Combinatorial

Family: Traditional

Mechanism(s): Movement,Capture

BGG Stats

BGG EntryFanorona
BGG Rating6.38313
BGG Weight2.5714

BGG Ratings and Comments

rbelikov5.2aka fandango
fxjohnN/AClassic game
Balzaams6Palyed a lot via in game game of Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
capsmoletN/AAncient Alquerque
fogus3[2015.02.10] The capture mechanic is worth exploring by its own right.
candoo4Many more dynamic abstracts out there. The beginning of the game has a lot of pieces being removed. Then the game gets stuck moving 1 space at a time. Then the game goes stale.
freechinanow7For an alquerque variant that is several hundred years old, I'm surprised that I enjoyed this one as much as I did. It just has something very... modern... about it. The way you can remove a player's pieces by moving forward or backward; the additional movement rules for capturing, etc., makes it feel ahead of its time. I'd almost give it a '6' just for being a routine, low-choice abstract, but its peculiarities raise it above the bar. Not a game for all the time, but fanorona deserves to be known by more people, that's for certain!
bengarpN/A(version par un artisan)
buckshotsward9Great game. It is a fairly quick play as well. I really like how the strategy changes throughout the game too. Much more to this game than people might think at first.
cerulean6Starts out very tactical, and becomes more strategic as it approaches the endgame.
RivkaN/APart of a 15-game set I was gifted as a child, under the name "Fandango". I will update this once I have replayed it.
jirka bauma6.5
JMOFischer8Although played on alquerque-style board the way of capturing pieces is unique: if a move ends on a point and the following point or points in an unbroken sequence along the line of movement are occupied by the opponents pieces then they are captured. The same goes for moving away from an opponents piece or pieces. You continue moving the same piece for as long as it can capture pieces. In other words, capture is made by approach or withdrawal. Strategy is paramount: you need to both capture pieces but also think of positioning yourself so as not be vulnerable to the opponent's next move. 30 seconds learn but a difficult game to master.
Paolo Robino7
Alex SmithN/A(Fandango) in The Book of Classic Board Games (Klutz)
davidmeN/AOwn as "Fandango" in The Book of Classic Board Games by Sackson.
grey knight8This game has a unique capturing system that I love. The game starts at a fast pace, then slows to a good "position" type of game.
cookieeemonster6My first print and play.
mjf71N/A2 20m
fineasfineasN/Ap.d. abstract strategy
Wentu7.5fast, wild, simple, surprising moves. only negative thing i can see now, towards the end the weakest just suffer a slow death without chances to recover
Venga2N/Ahave yet to play
seneca298Interisting abstract game. I'd like to build a nice copy and play it
KnightTimN/AIn The Book of Classic Board Games In The 15 Greatest Board Games in the World (Fandango)
MikeKn9SCA - Excellent 2 player game, although a bit post-period. Unique capture method and tricky to master.
drunkenKOALA7Good tactical game.
JPWattsN/APart of my traditional games collection, courtesy of ebay Great historic rule where if during the vela partie the original loser, loses again he has to get on all fours and go 'Baa Baa' or lick the middle of the board. My version came in a different box (see image 342373) but looks like the Northwest Corner edition.
Picon2.4Classic 2-player strategy game from Madagascar. There's quite some depth in the game, if one doesn't mind about the complete absence of the theme.
woodnoggin6Plays a bit like Draughts but with a manic start. The board begins full of pieces but they're quickly removed as whenever you capture a piece, you also capture the whole line of pieces behind it and you must keep on capturing with the piece you moved until it can capture no more. This just obliterates the board in the first few turns. I'm sure there's skill to what goes on at the start of the game, but it'll take many plays to work out. The endgame is more traditional abstract fare: slower and more calculating.
gastgast7Self made!
WinterDragon67N/Acan someone make something online with a computer?
whac35.5not bad but not great
Drek_Overlord6Some Board games can be learned from computer games because they can be added as a digital adaptation to demonstrate how they were played in those days. In short, I met her in Assassin's creed 3.
The MaverickN/AContained in The Boardgame Book. https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/7159
dancingdanslc3DIGITAL PLAY: iPad Air Abstract game, capture pieces in 2 ways. Move toward or away. I'm not an abstract game fan. Out of my collection
jayjonbeach5Neat little ancient ancient abstract First move or two is predictable, then there are a good number of nice moves where multiple kills are possible in a single turn, you need to be very careful here as you can open yourself up to multiple kills by one innocent looking move! The end game comes down to 4 or 5 stones if its close and just a tactical manoeuvre game (actual the whole game is mostly tactical with very little look ahead or setup). After several plays it feels like it should be slightly solvable. The endgame looks like it should come down to a stalemate when only a few pieces are left however I have not seen this and I have won by having only one piece against 7 when all looked lost, one series of domino effect moves killed all the opponents pieces! Kris Burm’s games are superior but this is pretty cool regardless
Raul Catalano6.5I proudly own one original wooden board from Madagascar - a really curious and complex game
MobyNostromo5Great start; slow, painful ending. An old game that is now outdated.
wolf9545N/A# (Fandango)
Playoria6Strange and interesting game with original capture mechanism. It looks easy but it takes time to see some depth and play accordingly.
snigfarp8This is quite a unique game, despite its resemblance to alquerque. I'd like to see if the second game played under the vela rules is really quite as unbalanced as it appears.
trebro6I want to play more of this one, it seems like a fun abstract game. End game seems to have a lot going on that needs explored further.
Keshik10One of my favourite two-player abstracts. It is actually similar, at least in game-play to draughts/checkers. Similar, because here you also have playing pieces that are the same, and can move one step/area in a move. and capturing the opponents playing pieces is mandatory, though chain-capture, eg. capturing more opponents pieces through series of movements is not mandatory. The winner is the one, who manages to capture all of the opponents pieces, or succeeds in blocking the remaining opponents pieces, so they cant move. Otherwise they can agree in a tie.
Ikarus6.9Con su Tablero se puede jugar a varios juegos: Alquerque, Bagh Guti, Bagh Chal...
Deleted0105187.1Seems an interesting game and I like the speed of it. However, I'm a bit put off by the feeling that I would need to memorise moves (rather than plan ahead further or better understand the implications of rules) in order to win consistently. Maybe I'm wrong, though...
BlueMountain9Very enjoyable abstract. While I am only starting to get used to the endgame tactics ... it's working out the moves to make to get me to the end game with the least amount of damage that is sending me bonkers. The more i play the more i realise this game has greater depth than initially appears to be the case.
glanfam7wooden board with drawers for pieces
fehrmeister6The official game of Madagascar. A fairly quick abstract game about capturing sets of pieces by moving towards or away from them.
SchwenkstarN/AIn [b]The Book of Classic Board Games[/b].
dagny21N/AOwn this in the form of the Klutz Book The 15 Greatest Board Games in the World.
GeoManN/ADas Spiel and Nestor Games portable edition.
taragalinas7Cute and tricky little abstract. Rating may increase with more play (as with all abstracts).
ricardofo6Included in my "Todos os Jogos" collection
Master Thomas7.5
Spooky DonkeyN/A[thing=2883][/thing]
latindog6.5Clever tactical abstract game. This is the sort of game that would require regular play against a partner to do more than scratch the surface of its depth. I have only played this on boardspace.net although I would like to try it on a real board.
Nap165.5Games magazine, Sept/Oct 1980, page 58
ypaul6I was initially put off by this game because it is one of those famously solved games. I knew that the number of total permutations these types of games have is inconceivable, and it has very little significance when it comes to actual human play, but that bias was still there. I decided to try this one day and it turns out that it is actually really fun--more so than draughts even (which is also weakly solved). The capture rules are quite straightforward, but it is somehow quite unique. I recommend having a go at this game at some point if you are into these kinds of games.
Rabbits7So far only played the computer on boardspace. It is hard to see the board when you first start out. You need to make strong defensive moves too, otherwise you kill a few men of the opponent but end up losing too many yourself on the subsequent response. May 18 - had my closest game against the bot, lost by 2. This is a good brain burner game.
quantumplation6.5Fanorona is perhaps as close as any abstract can get to a plain old savage massacre. Diminished previous rating in light of research finding forced strategies, but I think they overall mechanism of this game could still be put to interesting ends.
mothertruckin7Awesome capture rules. Fun game. I have ios version.
Herr Niemand6love the high mortality rate.
spearjr7Seems interesting, not sure about the long endgame.
clayhaus9Interesting, deceptively ‘simple’ abstract strategy game that begins slowly, then builds quickly into a mutually aggressive annihilation state before settling into a slowly introspective mode of contemplative maneuvering and piece “eating.” Recommended.
fofluffN/AKlutz Board Games book.
vkandtjN/AHave Out of Africa...Fanorona by ?
tckoppang6Solid game of material capture with interesting opportunities for multiple captures. It's growing on me even though I once found it very boring.
Jannu8fascinating game!
WolfgangWallace6 I don't rate higher because I can't find people to play. I really like this amazing game
dispatch1347117.8The traditional game of Madagascar, a capturing game with a unique board and mechanism. Lines of pieces are captured either by approach or retreat. An initial phase of bloody massacre is followed by a careful battle of pins and attrition. Pretty susceptible to draws.
CDRodeffer6Excellent two-player abstract with unique approach or withdrawal capture mechanism. The national game of Madagascar.
chrisbogert7Fast and furious sums it up. Each moves becomes a life or death situation. Haha, check this move out, boom boom boom (wipes out several rows)... oh no (fear sinks in as the consequences are revealed). boom, bam, pazow! Left in taters the pieces huddle together trapped in the corners awaiting their doom... Gotta say I really like this game.
jkandell8Hidden gem medieval abstract from Isle of Madagascar. The dense board (only one open space at start) and unique mechanic (you capture by either moving toward or withdrawing from a line of enemy pieces) makes the strategy and tactics perplexing. Fewer pieces isn't always an advantage, strength is not gained by numbers. I find the game play soothing. Death by confinement or withdrawal is metaphorical for life, and very ying/yang. The quick playing time, primal metaphorical nature, and the claustrophobic board reminds me of the Gipf series. Surprisingly modern for a game invented in 1680.
russ7Less well-known classic old game, with an unusual capture protocol. Surprisingly bloody: the board typically becomes sparse quickly as some turns may have a series of captures killing many pieces! So you reach the endgame pretty fast. Like Checkers, you can occasionally end up in a draw e.g. with each player having only one piece left, but most of our games have ended with a victory for one side who is a little bit ahead on material in the endgame and successfully maneuvers for the win.
Zickzack7Murray rated it as one of the three great games. The others were Chess and Go. Fanorona redefined mind boggling for me. It is difficult to find strong players, though.
rseater6a surprisingly good abstract. very bloody!
Big Tiki D7
Ottia9The Madagascar national game, Fanorona, is an apparent descendant of Alquerque since it is played on a much bigger board but with the same kind of connections, and it shares its goal (namely stripping the opponent off their pieces). However, while Alquerque is quite predictable because of its symmetry and modest size, Fanorona is pure dynamite at first and pure finesse in the end. This is achieved with two highly original rules for taking enemy pieces: a group of consecutive enemy stones can be removed both by moving a piece towards an enemy piece (or a group) or by moving away from it. Plus, after one piece has a group of enemy pieces removed it can move again provided it removes another enemy piece or group and doesn't go back to a square just occupied.
richgowellN/APut this and Yinsh on here twice by accident simply because I'm that dense!
Kaffedrake3The early massacre is wacky and it almost seems like there's no reason to try to read ahead. Then the slow endgame and prospect of a draw relegate this to the "no need to play again" category.
Kytty6Given to Dwight and Gabriel Book of Classic Board Games as "Fandango"
STICKPIN6Cheap printed board. I'm interested in the capture technique and need to play more games.
KTPrymus7Very intriguing variant/precursor to checkers. The decisions are quite varied and the game is never really over despite how outnumbered one player may get.
FiveStars9The National game of Madagaskar.

Kolomogorov Complexity Analysis

Size (bytes)28118
Reference Size10293

Ai Ai calculates the size of the implementation, and compares it to the Ai Ai implementation of the simplest possible game (which just fills the board). Note that this estimate may include some graphics and heuristics code as well as the game logic. See the wikipedia entry for more details.

Playout Complexity Estimate

Playouts per second8510.02 (117.51µs/playout)
Reference Size416094.54 (2.40µs/playout)
Ratio (low is good)48.89

Tavener complexity: the heat generated by playing every possible instance of a game with a perfectly efficient programme. Since this is not possible to calculate, Ai Ai calculates the number of random playouts per second and compares it to the fastest non-trivial Ai Ai game (Connect 4). This ratio gives a practical indication of how complex the game is. Combine this with the computational state space, and you can get an idea of how strong the default (MCTS-based) AI will be.

Playout/Search Speed

LabelIts/sSDNodes/sSDGame lengthSD
Random playout37,8253,2942,671,572232,8157130

Random: 10 second warmup for the hotspot compiler. 100 trials of 1000ms each.

Other: 100 playouts, means calculated over the first 5 moves only to avoid distortion due to speedup at end of game.

Mirroring Strategies

Rotation (Half turn) lost each game as expected.
Reflection (X axis) lost each game as expected.
Reflection (Y axis) lost each game as expected.
Copy last move lost each game as expected.

Mirroring strategies attempt to copy the previous move. On first move, they will attempt to play in the centre. If neither of these are possible, they will pick a random move. Each entry represents a different form of copying; direct copy, reflection in either the X or Y axis, half-turn rotation.

Win % By Player (Bias)

1: White win %49.80±3.09Includes draws = 50%
2: Black win %50.20±3.09Includes draws = 50%
Draw %14.40Percentage of games where all players draw.
Decisive %85.60Percentage of games with a single winner.
Samples1000Quantity of logged games played

Note: that win/loss statistics may vary depending on thinking time (horizon effect, etc.), bad heuristics, bugs, and other factors, so should be taken with a pinch of salt. (Given perfect play, any game of pure skill will always end in the same result.)

Note: Ai Ai differentiates between states where all players draw or win or lose; this is mostly to support cooperative games.

Levels of Play

AIStrong WinsDrawsStrong Losses#GamesStrong Win%p1 Win%Game Length
Grand Unified UCT(rSel=s, secs=0.01)360036100.0050.0041.92
Grand Unified UCT(rSel=s, secs=0.07)36064285.7142.86107.81
Grand Unified UCT(rSel=s, secs=0.20)35264383.7267.44182.14

Level of Play: Strong beats Weak 60% of the time (lower bound with 90% confidence).

Draw%, p1 win% and game length may give some indication of trends as AI strength increases; but be aware that the AI can introduce bias due to horizon effects, poor heuristics, etc.


Game length301.18 
Branching factor10.53 
Complexity10^307.93Based on game length and branching factor
Samples1000Quantity of logged games played

Move Classification

Distinct actions553Number of distinct moves (e.g. "e4") regardless of position in game tree
Killer moves69A 'killer' move is selected by the AI more than 50% of the time
Too many killers to list.
Good moves390A good move is selected by the AI more than the average
Bad moves162A bad move is selected by the AI less than the average
Terrible moves3A terrible move is never selected by the AI
Terrible moves: xh5-g5,xb1-c1,xa2-a3
Response distance3.50Mean distance between move and response; a low value relative to the board size may mean a game is tactical rather than strategic.
Samples1000Quantity of logged games played

Board Coverage

A mean of 83.08% of board locations were used per game.

Colour and size show the frequency of visits.

Game Length

Game length frequencies.


Change in Material Per Turn

This chart is based on a single representative* playout, and gives a feel for the change in material over the course of a game. (* Representative in the sense that it is close to the mean length.)


Table: branching factor per turn, based on a single representative* game. (* Representative in the sense that it is close to the mean game length.)

Action Types per Turn

This chart is based on a single representative* game, and gives a feel for the types of moves available throughout that game. (* Representative in the sense that it is close to the mean game length.)

Red: removal, Black: move, Blue: Add, Grey: pass, Purple: swap sides, Brown: other.


This chart shows the best move value with respect to the active player; the orange line represents the value of doing nothing (null move).

The lead changed on 4% of the game turns. Ai Ai found 17 critical turns (turns with only one good option).

Position Heatmap

This chart shows the relative temperature of all moves each turn. Colour range: black (worst), red, orange(even), yellow, white(best).

Good/Effective moves

MeasureAll playersPlayer 1Player 2
Mean % of effective moves32.1229.1635.03
Mean no. of effective moves3.982.954.99
Effective game space10^144.3810^55.5310^88.85
Mean % of good moves23.010.4045.32
Mean no. of good moves3.480.026.89
Good move game space10^101.6210^0.3010^101.32

These figures were calculated over a single game.

An effective move is one with score 0.1 of the best move (including the best move). -1 (loss) <= score <= 1 (win)

A good move has a score > 0. Note that when there are no good moves, an multiplier of 1 is used for the game space calculation.

Quality Measures

Hot turns86.75%A hot turn is one where making a move is better than doing nothing.
Momentum27.15%% of turns where a player improved their score.
Correction45.70%% of turns where the score headed back towards equality.
Depth2.62%Difference in evaluation between a short and long search.
Drama0.03%How much the winner was behind before their final victory.
Foulup Factor11.26%Moves that looked better than the best move after a short search.
Surprising turns0.33%Turns that looked bad after a short search, but good after a long one.
Last lead change76.82%Distance through game when the lead changed for the last time.
Decisiveness8.94%Distance from the result being known to the end of the game.

These figures were calculated over a single representative* game, and based on the measures of quality described in "Automatic Generation and Evaluation of Recombination Games" (Cameron Browne, 2007). (* Representative, in the sense that it is close to the mean game length.)



Opening Heatmap

Colour shows the success ratio of this play over the first 10moves; black < red < yellow < white.

Size shows the frequency this move is played.

Positions Reachable at Depth (Includes Transpositions)


Note: most games do not take board rotation and reflection into consideration.
Multi-part turns could be treated as the same or different depth depending on the implementation.
Counts to depth N include all moves reachable at lower depths.
Zobrist hashes are not available for this game, so transpositions are included in the counts.

Shortest Game(s)

No solutions found to depth 17.



White to win in 8 moves

Selection criteria: first move must be unique, and not forced to avoid losing. Beyond that, Puzzles will be rated by the product of [total move]/[best moves] at each step, and the best puzzles selected.