One of the characteristics of Bao is that the situation on the board can change dramatically with each move. So it is hard to say which player has the advantage just by looking at a position on the board. The rapid changes also make it difficult to plan ahead.
The board has four rows containing eight holes. Each player owns the two rows closest to him/her. Each player has a front and a back row. The aim of the game is to either clear your opponent's front row of all seeds or make it impossible for him to move.
Stop-Motion of a Bao game according to easy version game from Tanzania.
Bao is a game for 2 players. The board is made up by 32 troughs and is separated and is separated into two halfs. You play only on one half, this is the bottom trough.
Goal of this game is either to eat all the opponent’s stones out of his front trough row or to make him unable to move: to make a move he needs at least two stones in one trough. So, if the opponent has not more than one stone in any of the trough, he has lost. The game can never in a draw.
You move by taking all stones out of any trough that contains at least 2 stones on your half of the board. Then the stones are distributed in a direction of your choice over the neighboring troughs, whereby one stone is dropped in each trough you pass by.
Your move ends, if your last distributed stone falls into an empty trough. Because at the beginning of the game all troughs are full, each starting-move is rather long.
Eating, wandering and sleeping
If the last dropped stone fall into a trough that contains already one or more stones, all the stones of this last trough are distributed continuously in the given direction. This we call “Wandering”.
If the last stone into a not empty trough of your upper trough-row and the opposing opponent’s trough also contains stones, you take out all of the opponent’s stones and distribute them together with the stones in your own trough. This we call “Eating”.
If the last stone is dropped in an empty trough, your turn is over. This we call “Sleeping”.
Initial Setup of simplified Bao