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Li'b el-Merafib (Hyena Game)




Northern Africa


Li'b el-Merafib is a race game played by the Kababish peopl of Sudan. The pieces represent the players' mothers, traveling from their home village to a well to get water, and they have to race home to avoid being eaten by the hyena, which eliminates players it overtakes.


The board is a square spiral of any number of spaces. Each player begins with one piece. Three casting sticks, each with a round and a flat side, are used as dice. The throws are as follows: One flat side up = 1; two flat sides up = 2; three flat sides up = 4, zero flat sides up = 6. The pieces begin on the outer end of the track, and must throw a 1 to begin play. Once a player has left the starting spot, they move according to the throws, except on throws of 1, which are tabulated for use later. Players continue to throw until they throw 2. Players must land on the last space of the track, I.e. at the center of the spiral, by an exact throw, and may use one of their accumulated throws of 1 if a 1 is required. The player must then roll 1 five times before leaving this space and proceeding back to the starting point. Accumulated rolls of 1 may be used for this. If the player must wait, they may accumulate individual throws of 2, 4, or 6 to use later. The first player to reach the starting space by an exact throw releases the hyena, which cannot move until 1 is thrown twice, or paid from the accumulated throws. The hyena proceeds along the track in the same manner, but moving twice the value of each throw. When the hyena reaches the end of the track, it must throw or pay 1 ten times. The hyena captures any piece it overtakes on the return to the starting space, eliminating that player from the game.

Davies 1925: 145-146.




Murray 1951: 143-144.

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Davies, R. 1925. 'Some Arab Games and Puzzles.' Sudan Notes and Records. 8: 137–152.

Murray, H.J.R. 1951. A History of Board-Games Other Than Chess. Oxford: Clarendon Press.



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