How to play mancala

how to play mancala

Games from the mancala family have been known in Africa since the Neolithic times, making them considered typical African games. Throughout history, every African tribe has had contact with this game, and in many cases the game was considered sacred. How to play mancala?

What should you know about mancala?

Mancala (wari) games, also often called count & capture games have been known around the world for thousands of years. The game came to Europe with immigrants from Africa, South America and Asia. Mancala is known today on virtually all continents. In Africa and Asia, mancala known under hundreds of different names, including mankala, mancala, kalaha, awele, awale, oware, wari, toguz xorgol, sungka, apaba, congkak, bao, nam-nam.

mancala playing

No one can accurately determine the age of the game, but it is known that it dates back to several thousand years. Mankala, like the Asian one, is one of the oldest games in the world that millions of people still play. To this day, it is not known whether this game was certainly invented by the peoples of Africa, because it has been played in the Middle East and the islands of Southeast Asia for many centuries. However, several hundred years ago, along with slavery, the game from Africa reached North and South America, and for about 100 years the game has been known (though poorly) in Europe.

How to play?

The board contains 12 fields and two larger so-called houses. Each player has six spaces in front of him and a house on the right. At the beginning of the game there are 4 stones in each field (48 in total). The stones before breaking do not belong to any player.

Before starting the game, players choose the one to start. In subsequent games, the winner begins. Players take their moves in turns. In the first move, the player collects all stones from one (any) of the spaces on his territory (6 spaces closest to the player). Then he lays them out (spreads) one to each of the following boxes, moving counterclockwise. The first stone lands in the first field on the right, and the next in each next.

The exception is when the field being played contains more than 11 stones. Lining stones in the next fields we come after the full bypass of the board to the field from which we started spreading. This field is bypassed and the next stones are laid further from the next in order.


If the last stone is laid on the opponent’s territory and together with those already present on the field it forms a number two or three – the move ends with taking (beating) all these stones.

If the last stone lands on the field giving a takeover (beating) and the previous fields in the order also contain two or three stones (in any combination) – these stones are also taken over (multiple beats).

Prohibited Movements

If, after moving (taking over stones), the opposing player does not have a single stone to play on his territory – such movement is forbidden and should be played differently so that some stones remain on the opponent’s territory. If such a move is impossible, the player with all the remaining stones on the board adds them to his captured stones and the game ends.

The first player to take over 25 stones wins the game. A tie is possible when each player takes 24 stones.



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