How To

How To Play Mancala


How To Play Mancala

Share this article
How To Play Mancala

How To Play Mancala

Mancala: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Ancient Game of Strategy

Mancala, an ancient game of African origin, has captivated players for centuries with its simple yet strategic gameplay. This guide will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the game, from setting up the board to making winning moves.


  • Mancala board with 12 small pits and 2 large storage pits (called "kalas")
  • 48 seeds, pebbles, or marbles


  1. Place the board in front of you, with one large storage pit on each side.
  2. Divide the seeds into two equal piles of 24.
  3. Distribute 4 seeds into each of the 6 small pits on your side of the board.
  4. Do the same for your opponent’s side.


The goal of Mancala is to capture more seeds than your opponent. Seeds are captured by moving them into your storage pit.


  1. Choose a starting pit: Select any pit on your side of the board that contains seeds.
  2. Sow the seeds: Take all the seeds from the chosen pit and distribute them one at a time, counterclockwise, into the subsequent pits.
  3. Continue sowing: If the last seed you sowed falls into a pit with multiple seeds, continue sowing, skipping your storage pit.
  4. Capture seeds: If the last seed you sowed falls into an empty pit on your opponent’s side of the board, and the opposite pit on your side contains seeds, capture all the seeds in both pits and place them in your storage pit. This is called a "capture."
  5. Next turn: If your last seed falls into your own storage pit or if you capture seeds, you get an extra turn.
  6. End of turn: If your last seed falls into an empty pit on your opponent’s side and does not result in a capture, your turn ends. Your opponent then takes his or her turn.


The game ends when all the seeds have been captured. The player with the most seeds in their storage pit wins.


  • Control the center pits: The pits in the center of the board are often the most important, as they can be used to sow seeds more efficiently.
  • Target empty pits: Try to sow seeds towards empty pits on your opponent’s side to prevent them from capturing seeds.
  • Force captures: By strategically distributing seeds, you can force your opponent to make captures that benefit you.
  • Block your opponent: If you know your opponent is about to make a capture, try to move seeds into the opposite pit to prevent it.
  • Count your seeds: Keep track of the number of seeds you have in your storage pit and in your small pits. This will help you make informed decisions.


1. What is the origin of Mancala?

Mancala is believed to have originated in Africa over 2,000 years ago. It is one of the oldest known board games in the world.

2. Are there different variations of Mancala?

Yes, there are many different variations of Mancala played around the world. The most common variation is called "Standard American Mancala," which is described in this article.

3. Can I play Mancala online?

Yes, there are several websites and mobile apps that allow you to play Mancala online against other players.

4. Is Mancala a good game for children?

Yes, Mancala is a great game for children because it teaches them basic math skills, strategy, and patience.

5. What is the average game time for Mancala?

The average game time for Standard American Mancala is around 15-30 minutes.


Mancala is a timeless game of strategy that is enjoyed by people of all ages. Whether you’re looking to improve your problem-solving skills or simply have some fun with friends, give Mancala a try. With its simple rules and endless possibilities, it’s a game that will keep you entertained for years to come.