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Store:  2-Player Games, Family Games
Edition:  Abalone
Series:  Abalone
Genre:  Abstract Strategy
Format:  Board Games


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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
8+ 30 minutes 2

Designer(s): Michel Lalet, Laurent Levi

Manufacturer(s): FoxMind Games

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Product Description

How do you create a game that has sold over 4 million copies in 30 different countries? Easy, just make it a game that anyone can learn in one minute, but that may take a lifetime to master. Loosely based on sumo wrestling, the point of Abalone is to push just 6 of your opponents 14 marbles off of the playing surface, but there is a catch. It takes two marbles to move one, and three to move two.

Simple? Yes. Simplistic? By no means! The six directions of movement allow for infinite strategies both offensively and defensively.

Product Awards

Mensa Best Mind Game Award
Best Mind Game, 1990
Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 1989

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Michel Lalet, Laurent Levi

  • Manufacturer(s): FoxMind Games

  • Year: 1999

  • Players: 2

  • Time: 30 minutes

  • Ages: 8 and up

  • Weight: 779 grams

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item.


  • 14 black marbles
  • 14 white marbles
  • 1 board
  • rules

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.8 in 11 reviews

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by JanG
Lots of ways to play this one
July 15, 2003

Just picked up a copy of Abalone. Interesting game. For those who are luke warm, I'd suggest looking at

which has a bunch of variations on the game. Some require additional marbles of different colors. Also, thought I'd mention that the marbles are interchangeable with the ones in Kuba. I'd also suggest reading the rules on which explains some moves not really obvious from the rules in the box. Nice to see this one back in print.

by Paul
Organic and Graphic
December 20, 1999

The lines are rigid, but soon you will start seeing fluid pressures and motions on an Abalone board.

VERY natural feeling rules. The universe on the board of Abalone is very complete and simple in concept. (unlike chess, which overflows with rules of different and arbitrary piece move types and starting positions.)

The shorter game (less balls off the board to win) is great for learning or just a faster game.

The wonderful clack of balls sliding into place with each move is just another pleasing thing about this wonderfully pure strategy game.

If you like abstract strategy - this is the game.

by Mike
Anyone want to Sumo?
December 08, 1999

Before you go any further, take a look at the Bollox game, otherwise what I'm going to be describing will make very little sense.

Now... Abalone is a two person abstract stategy game based on Sumo wrestling. It is one of the rare games that you will ever find that is 'easy to learn and difficult to master' (think Pente). The components consist of an octogonal plastic board (shaped like a stopsign), and thirteen black and thirteen white marbles (see Bollox).

The rules of the game are simple. Rules of movement; move one, two or three marbles in one direction and in a straight line. Rules of combat; more marbles push less marbles. Example; three black marbles can push either one or two white marbles. The first player to push five of their opponent's marbles outside of the ring, in any direction, wins the game!

Play consists of each player taking turns postioning their marbles strategicly. Deciding whether to push your opponent's marbles or consolidate your position in the center of the board is a fine line which determines astounding victories or staggering defeats!

This is an amazingly elegant, handsome game which I have played dozens of times. Its great for kids and adults. No wating around to learn the rules! So... does anyone want to Sumo?

by Boardmeister
Every game is different
December 01, 2010

Abalone is one of my all time favorite board games. The reason is simple. Every game is different. If you are looking for games which are easy to learn but take a life time to master I definitely recommend Abalone. It is easier to learn than Chess or Go which makes it also interesting for younger players.

by Tom
Abstract Sumo Wrestling
March 06, 2002

I saw this game at a local game shop about 8 years ago and it was the coolest looking abstract strategy game I had ever seen. I bought it for Christmas for my family and we enjoyed dozens and dozens of games. The board design is extremely clever and the rules take 30 seconds to learn.

As other reviewers have mentioned though, the winning strategy becomes all too obvious - keep your marbles tightly clumped together because united they stand and divided they fall. Two experienced players will slowly move their masses towards each other and cautiously try to pick away at the other's front line. Usually the person who plays more aggressively loses in this endeavor. And once your cluster of marbles is split there is no point in playing on any further because your loss is inevitable. So, the better we became the more systematic game play became which ultimately made the game lose its appeal.

Even though this game doesnt have the lasting power of a classic abstract strategy game, Im still giving it a favorable rating because it was fun for a long time. I would recommend this game to anyone looking for a fun, visually appealing abstract strategy game. Even though I seem to have mastered it, I still enjoy teaching it to new players just to see the look in their eye that I had when I first played.

by Tash
good two player strategy game
November 29, 1999

For those who like Go, and Chess... this game is well and truly in your genre. You basically have a hexagonal game board, with indents in it which allow you to maneuver your pieces (these resemble oversized marbles--black and white) around the board. The aim is to push 6 of your opponent's balls off the board. A row of balls of higher number can push a row of lower number; a row of three balls will enable you to push a row of two balls belonging to your opponent one space; if you're close enough to the edge you can push one ball off. The max number of balls in a row is 3. What it rounds up to is a fight to keep your balls together (ahem), and a need to develop a strategy to corner your opponent and knock him/her off. My stepfather who was a previous chess champion loves this game. This game can be as complicated or simple as you like. Though I wouldn't say that it is as complicated as Go.

simple, yet effective entertainment
June 05, 2001

This is a game that gets played in our house on a fairly regular basis--we haved owned it for about 6 years. What makes it enjoyable is its basic simplicity. However, that is also its downfall. The lasting replayability comes in playing against a variety of partners, because everyone thinks and views this game just a bit differently. The components are wonderful, the rules are very simple and clear to understand, but to play this against the same person repeatedly is boring. Also, a three player version adds little to the overall effectiveness.

Dry, even for an abstract game
April 21, 2001

One thing you can't fault Abalone for is the quality of the components. When the game is set up there is an elegance to it that is unmistakable. The big black and white marbles on the hexagonal board looks like some sort of twenty-first century checkers set. Come to think of it, that is almost exactly what it is.

Sadly, it is also a rather dry abstract game. The pieces, while pretty, wind up making many of the same moves over and over, game after game. I just have never felt that it had the strategic depth of chess or go or even mancala. Admittedly, there is probably more strategy here than in, say, Kensington, but that isn't saying all that much.

If you want something that is easily taught and looks great on your coffee table, pick up Abalone. If you want a game with lots of variety that will have you coming back time and time again, it might not fit the bill.

A good game that needs just a little something more...
June 20, 2000

I was first introduced to Abalone at a gaming convention in Detroit about 11 years ago. After seeing the game demonstrated and playing a few games with a few people in the crowd, I immediately bought it... and I've never regretted doing so.

Many, many years later, I had the pleasure of introducing a young friend of mine to Abalone. The very next day he immediately went out and purchased his own copy and to this day still claims it's one of the best game he's ever seen. High praise indeed. In fact, he's not the only one to give it such praise. Mensa declared it their 'Best Mind Game' of 1990 and it has also picked up 'Game of the Year' awards in France, Spain, Germany and Switzerland. Of course, there's also the small matter of winning 'Game of the Decade' at the International Games Festival in Cannes. Impressive to say the least.

The object of Abalone is to be the first person to push six of his/her opponent's marbles off the hexagonal board. The brief few ways a marble or group of marbles can move and push can be explained in just minutes. Most children as young as seven can probably grasp the rules without any problem.

Abalone is very visually appealing. The board is a marvelous piece of engineering design. It can make for quite a conversation piece simply sitting on your coffee table. And not only does it look great but the 'clunking' sound that is heard when one group of marbles pushes another is also very appealing. It's not every game that both LOOKS and SOUNDS great!

Abalone is a good game. In fact, I might even go one further and say Abalone is a very good game. However, I would not consider Abalone to be a great game. As I continue to play it, I realize it's lacking something... and I'm not sure what that something is. If I had to put my finger on it, I would say the game can become too dull if one (or both!) players simply play defensively. This is similar to the board game Stratego, which, although has many good aspects, can also be rather dull and often completely favors the DEFENSIVE player. I don't believe I'm the only one who believes this, since I recall Internet Newsgroup posts which mention the same thing.

I'm willing to bet that years from now, maybe even MANY years from now, someone, somewhere, will come up with a slight rule change, or add a slightly new dimension to it that will give Abalone the 'zap' it really needs. Possibly this just means a change to the starting position, or changing the properties of one or more of each player's marbles.

If you're a fan of abstract strategy games, and if you haven't played Abalone yet, you definitely should give it a try. I give it 3.5 stars.

Very attractive at first, but is easily solved for a draw
May 10, 2000

Special Note: I believe this game is wonderful for children ages 8-16 and can be fun for adults wanting to play a light, not so serious fun game.

I played this game years ago when a good friend of mine gave it to me for my birthday. I loved the game! I was completely hooked for weeks, all until I mastered the game.

Unfortunately, this is a game that when both players master the game, both players revert back and forth in a stalemate position on the board full well knowing that if they divert from that position, they would lose.

Taking the center most position in this game is key... if you are not fully blobbed together in a tight group, then you will get busted open right away. You can't win by separating your marbles... so, this means keeping center and grouped... exactly what the other player is doing too.

The unfortunate part is, there is no way to break this if both players know what they are doing.

This games makes a great coffee table game for guests to play. The board is extemely interesting... and, yes the pieces clanking together makes a great sound too.

Not my cup of tea
November 04, 2002

I played this game on a board games fair and it was the cool look of the game that persuaded me in playing it.

And although the rules are basic and simple and the game seems to leave open loads of possibilities, I found that i was more like a clash of the titans. Both sides move towards each other, turn around a bit and just wait for the opponent to make a mistake a benefit from this. 6 marbles out is all it takes so one mistake can be the end.

If the looks of the game weren't as good, I would give it only one star. I must say that in general I don't like chess or stratego neither, which have, similar to Abalone, an identical initial set-up and a turn-based confrontation. Just so you see my review in the right perspective.

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