The game of Mancala has been known by many names, and has been played for thousands of years throughout Africa and the Middle East.
It has been found in Egyptian tombs, but the game may be older than Ancient
You can buy a Mancala set, but it is easy to make your own. There is no element of
chance in this game, it is a pure strategy game which makes it different from
many board games.
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The Mancala board is made up of two rows of six holes each. An empty egg carton is perfect. See picture below to help set it up. Or you can draw circles on the sidewalk with chalk, or on a piece of paper with
The playing pieces are any small object. You need 48 playing
pieces. They could be small stones, seeds, marbles, shells, or even small pieces
of wood. The color or size doesn't matter as long as you can easily fit
6-8 pieces in a hole during the game.
Set up the board by placing four playing pieces in each hole.
Each player has a 'store' on their end of the Mancala board. You could
put a bowl or a dish there if you want, but you don't have to. When
playing, each player can only pick up pieces that are on the side of the board
that is on their right.
To play the game:
Decide who goes first.
The first player picks up all of the pieces in any one of the holes on her
right hand side of the board.
Moving clockwise, the player deposits ONE of the stones in each hole until the stones run out.
Be sure to put one stone in your 'store' if there are enough. If she
is still holding stones, then she continues putting them in holes on the
left side, past the bowl. See pictures below for an example.
You never have to put a stone in your opponents 'store'. Just skip
over it, and continue putting them in the holes on the right hand side of
the board. This can happen if the hole near her own bowl has 8-10
stones when she picks them up.
The game ends when all six spaces on one side of the Mancala board are empty.
Count all the pieces in each store. The winner is the player with the most pieces.
If the last piece you drop is in your own store, you get a free turn.
If the last piece you drop is in an empty hole on your side, you capture that piece and any pieces in the hole directly
beside it. Always place all captured pieces in your store.
If the game ends, the player who still has pieces on his side of the board, captures all of those pieces.
Start with the basic game, and then try the variations as you get familiar
with it. Choose which rules you want to play with at the start of each
Example of Playing Mancala
As you are looking at this picture, it is the player (with one marble
in her store) on the left's turn to play. ; She could pick up
all the marbles from any hole on the lower row. The first hole is
empty and the player chooses to pick up the four marbles from the second
Here's where the four marbles are placed.
Her first hole.
Her opponents last hole.
Her opponents second last hole.
Here's a picture after her turn.
Now it's her opponent's turn. He can pick up marbles from any
hole on the top and put one in each hole moving towards his store.