How To Play Mancala

Mancala is a traditional strategy game whose origins are lost in the mists of time. Variants of the game (with different names) are played in Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. There is evidence that was already being played thousands of years ago. Like all good games, it can be learned in minutes, but could take a lifetime to master!

The board consists of two rows of holes, with a single larger hole at either end (called "mancalas"). At the start of the game, a number of stones or marbles or seeds is placed in each hole. Each player, on their turn, takes some of the stones from one of their holes, and then distributes them one by one to the neighbouring holes. The exact rules for distributing the stones depends on the variant being played.

In this version, the exact rules are as follows:

  • Each player's Mancala is on their right.
  • One their turn, a player takes the stones from one of the holes on their side, and distributes them one by one to the neighbouring holes, in a clockwise direction (i.e., away from his or her own mancala).
  • A player does not drop stones into their opponent's mancala!
  • If the last stone falls into an empty hole on the player's own side, the player removes that stone, as well as all the stones from the opposite hole, and places them in his or her own mancala.
  • If the last stone falls into the player's own mancala, the player gets another turn.
  • If a player cannot move on his or her turn, all the remaining stones are removed into their opponent's mancala.
Sound simple?? If not, it will become clearer as you play.

When you open the game, you will be faced with a number of choices:

  • Holes per Side (default 6) This is the number of holes on each side of the board (not counting the mancala). Change it by clicking the + and - arrows.
  • Chips per Hole (default 4) This is the number of stones in each hole at the start. Change it by clicking the + and - arrows.
  • Player 1: (default Human). This means that a human will be player 1. If you want the computer to play, click on the word Human.
  • Player 2: (default Computer). This means that the computer will play player 2. If you want a human to play, click on the word Computer.
  • Skill Level (default 3). This determines how intelligent a computer player will be. Skill level 0 will just play random moves - recommended only for beginners or for the discouraged.
  • Time per Move: This is how long the computer will take to move (at worst). It depends on the skill level, on the number of holes per side, and on the speed of your computer. You cannot push this above 60 minutes, but then why would you want to? If you really want to play a computer that smart, buy a faster PC.
  • Which Player First (default 1). Pretty obvious what this means. Change it by clicking on the + and - arrows.
  • Start Game: Click on this word when you want to start!
To make your move when it is your turn, click on the hole from which you wish to move the pieces. Are you ready?? Then Play!!