Mancala Game Rules and How to Play Guide

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In this article, I will introduce you to the basic rules of the game Mancala and show you how to play. There are many variations to this game. These are the rules for the classic to rank Mancala. The object of this game is to capture the most stones.


The Mancala board consists of two rows with six holes each. At the beginning of the game, you and your opponent sit facing each other with a board between you. The row closest to you is your row. In each of the 12 holes, 4 stones are placed, which makes a total of 48 pieces.

Each player on the far right of their row has an extended hole called Mancala. At the beginning of the game, the player who plays first takes all the balls from one of his holes from the row that belongs to him. He puts one ball at a time in each hole counterclockwise.

If, while arranging the balls, he reaches his Mancala, he also throws a ball into it. If the last ball from the hand ends up in his Mancali, he is entitled to another move. Otherwise, he finished and his opponent is on the move.

In the event that during the move, the player’s last ball from the hand ends up in his empty field (in the row belonging to him) and there is a ball in the opponent’s row opposite that field, his and the opponent’s balls from that field belong to him. The game ends when all six holes on one side of the board are empty. The player on whose side the remaining balls are puts them all in his Mankala. The winner is the player who has the most balls in his Man Cali.

Planning ahead is crucial to winning. Try to plan two or three moves in advance.

Gameplay Rules

Layout the board horizontally between two players and place four stones into each of the 12 small pockets. The board is divided into two rows of six pockets each. Each player controls the six pockets on the side closest to them. The two larger pockets are called Mon Calas. Each player owns the Mancala to the right of their row.

Pick a player to go first. On your turn, pick all the stones in any one of your pockets on your side of the board moving counterclockwise from the pocket picked.

Deposit one of the stones in each pocket you pass until the stones run out. If you run into your own Mancala deposit one stone in it. If you run into your opponent’s Mancala skip it. Also, if the last piece you drop is in your own Mancala take another turn immediately.

Lastly, if the last piece you drop is in an empty pocket on your side of the board you capture that piece and any piece in the hole directly opposite it. Always place all captured pieces in your Mancala.

The game ends when all six spaces on one side of the board are empty. The player, who still has pieces on his side of the board when the game ends, captures all those pieces and puts them into their Mancala. Count all the pieces in each Mancala. The player with the most pieces wins.

Exceptions, tricks, and strategies

  1. If when dropping a pebble into the holes, the last pebble you drop ends up in your mancala, you play again, ie you get an extra move.
  2. If, while dropping a pebble, you happen to insert the last pebble into a hole that was previously empty, if that hole is on your side, and if there is a pebble across the road in the opponent’s side opposite that pebble, you take that one pebble and all the others from the opposite hole and insert into your mancala. In doing so, you do not get an extra move as in case 1.

A good strategy is that if the player is first on the move, he starts from a hole that is 4 holes away from his Man Cale. That way, the last stone will fall in the Man Cal and get an extra move.

More about Mancala

The board game Mancala is very popular all over the world, especially in Africa and Asia. The game has over 300 names and variations, such as Kalah and Oware, it also has a number of different game rules. The game usually consists of a wooden board with recesses arranged in two or four rows. It can be played with pebbles, shells, seeds, glass, or wooden beads.

There is an opinion that Mancala was originally intended for counting and math and not for playing. For thousands of years, Mancala has been used as a learning tool in African schools. Nowadays, it is popular on all continents.

Mancala has been introduced in many schools around the world because it encourages logical and strategic thinking. There are also many associations of Mancala fans and every year competitions in gaming are organized for both children and adults.

The game Mancala is recommended for ages 5 and up.

In some languages Mancala is also spelled as Mankala.

Mancala history

Mancala is one of the oldest games in the world. It is believed to have originated in the Neolithic. Some historians mention it in Mesopotamia and Egypt, where their tablets were used for divination, ceremonies and calculations. According to other theories, it was made in other parts of Africa (the first tablets were found in Eritrea and Ethiopia in the 7th and 6th centuries BC) and rituals of sowing and harvesting, as well as divination.

The board represented the world, the holes in the board marked 12 months of the year, and by moving the stones representing the stars, the divine movement through time and space was marked and so they foretold the future. most likely the first boards were used for calculation and various rituals and not for play. Even today, in some countries, this game is called the “Sowing Game” or the “Counting Game”.

The game later spread to South and Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and part of the American continent. Mancala arrived in Eastern Europe during the Ottoman Empire. The proof is two tablets from the 17th century found in 2006 in the lower town of the Belgrade Fortress. The first countries in Europe to play mancalas were France and England, which had their colonies in Africa and Asia.

Today, Mankala is a popular game in almost all European countries where there are associations and clubs that organize tournaments for children and adults.

Mancala Game on the Market

The board game Mancala is on the market in many versions. The one that I refer to in this article I link to here:

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