I love to play board games (that includes tabletop games and card games) and recently I have been games that I remember from my childhood – classics such as Snakes & Ladders, Ludo, Chinese Checkers etc. These classic board games have been around for a very long time and are still loved and played today by children and adults, they have really stood up to the test of time. I recently came across a game that I had never heard of before, even though it is among the oldest known games to still be widely played today and could date back to Ancient Egypt! This game is called Mancala.
Mancala is a game where players must “sow” and “capture” seeds or as we would play it today, capture more stones or marbles than your opponent. There are many different versions of Mancala, but I have been playing a basic version of the game: a two-rank Mancala with a wooden board.
In the box:
- Wooden Mancala Board
- 48 Beads/Marbles
Mancala is a children’s game of strategy for two players. I would say that is suitable for age 5 and upwards and has a playing time of around 15 minutes.
The Mancala board is a tray with 2 rows of 6 pits and a longer pit at each end (known as a Mancala). The idea is that each player has 24 marbles (4 in each pit) and players must capture as many as they can to put in their Mancala. It is a very simple game to play but strategy and forward planning come into it more than you think.
It is a two player game, and the players sit opposite each other with the Mancala board between them with 6 pits on each side. Each player is given 24 stones. Player’s place 4 stones into each of the pits (also known pockets) on their side of the board.
Before play begins, decide you goes first – flip a coin or use your own favourite method for a fair selection.
The starting player selects one of their pits on the board and grabs all the stones from within it. Going counter-clockwise from the now empty pit they must drop them, one by one, into each pit around the board, including their own Mancala pit (they do not drop one in the opposing players Mancala pit). If your last stone is placed in an empty pit, you capture the stones in the opposite pit on your opponent’s side and place they in your Mancala. Once a player has placed all the stones from their hand on the board, it’s the other person’s turn to do the same thing.
As soon as all 6 pits from one side are empty of stones, the game ends. The other player then takes all the stones from the pits on their own side and places them into their Mancala. The winner is the player with the highest number of stones.
Overall, Mancala is a very simple game to play as it is moving and placing stones and trying to capture your opponent’s stones. The real fun and skill of the game is trying to plan ahead and select the best way forward – it really can be quite strategic.
Strategy comes into play a lot, especially if you can work it that the last stone in your hand ends up in your own Mancala pit as this will give you another turn. And if you can time it so that you drop your last stone into an empty pit on your own side you can capture your opponent’s stones in the pit directly opposite.
As it is a simple and fun game to play, with a 10-15 minute playing time, it can get addictive. A game of strategic thinking and trying to work out your opponent’s next moves to plan your own.
An interesting and fun game that is more enjoyable that I thought it would be. Lots of good fun for family game nights.
Available to buy from Amazon here.