Kaooa, otherwise known as "Vulture and Crows" is a traditional game from India. Like Len Choa ("Tiger and Leopards") and Fox and Geese, it is a hunt game. Hunt games often pit one player with one token against a second player who has multiple tokens. As you can tell, the tokens usually are named after animals, a fun dynamic that adds a little imaginative spirit to the game. Caw! Caw!
Kaooa is unique in that it uses a pentagram, or star-shaped, board, similar to the one person game, Pentalpha. It is easy to make your own game board, and if your kids want, they can get really artsy and decorate it however they want!
How to Play Kaooa
Watch the video, or read the written instructions, below.
What you need:
- Five-pointed star game board. Use our printable, or draw your own.
- One token representing the vulture
- Seven tokens in a different color representing the crows
- Two enthusiastic players
For the tokens you can use found objects around the home like coins (e.g. 7 pennies and a dime) or tokens borrowed from other games in your closet.
The crows' objective is to surround the vulture and blockade him from moving.
The vulture's objective is to capture four crows. He captures a crow by jumping over it.
- Legal Moves
Crows may move from one spot to an adjacent vacant spot. Only one move is allowed per turn. No jumping is allowed for for crows.
The vulture may move to an adjacent vacant spot. The vulture may also jump a crow and capture it. Jumps are only allowed in a straight line. Captured crows are removed from play. The vulture must jump a crow if the opportunity presents itself. Only one jump per turn.
- Crows go first
Player 1 places one of their crow tokens on any of the ten intersections of the game board.
- Vulture goes next
Player 2 places the vulture on any vacant spot.
- Crows continue "drop phase"
Player 1 one drops his second crow on a vacant spot. (Note: in the example below, the vulture forced the crow's second move to be in the corner or else the first crow would have been vulnerable to capture.)
- Vulture moves
The vulture can now move.
- Play continues
Players alternate turns with the vulture moving along the game board and Player 2 dropping his flock of crows one by one onto the game board. Only once all seven crows have been placed on the board can the crows begin moving.
The vulture wins if he captures at least 4 crows.
The crows win if they manage to trap the vulture in a way that prevents him from making a legal move. (In the example below, the vulture has won.)
Here's an example of a vulture under a blockade; crows win the game.
Notes on Playing Kaooa
As with some of the other traditional abstract strategy games we have shared, players can get trapped into a draw by repeating the same move over and over. To avoid this, you can create a rule against repetitive moves, or you can simply declare a draw and start over.
In addition, if the vulture manages to capture three crows, it can be difficult for the game to progress. However, technically, it is still possible for the crows to block the vulture, even though it seems increasingly improbable.
Naturally, players will want to come up with a winning strategy. After a few rounds, have your children ask the following questions:
- Is it more advantageous to be the crows or the vulture?
- Is one starting point better or worse than another?
- If both players play a perfect game, who is more likely to win? A mistake free game would be if, for example, a crow never intentionally placed himself in a position to be jumped.
More traditional games from around the world:
You may also like: Folktales from India!