How To Play Mancala: Mancala Game Rules

If you need to know how to play the Mancala game and understand the Mancala game rules, you are on the right page. 


The Mancala Game is a board game usually played by two players. The game is played using the Mancala board. The Mancala is a board with 12 small holes. That includes six holes on either side of the board and two bigger holes at the opposite ends. The bigger holes are known as the Mancala. 


The object of the Mancala game is to be the first player to bank the most number of stones in the Mancala hole. 

Mancala Game Rules

  • The player can pick stones from any hole in the row closest 
  • The last player to start the game is usually the first to count the remaining number of stones. 

Number of Players

The Mancala game requires just two players to play the game. 


You need the following equipment to play this game

  • The Mancala board
  • Stones.
  • A table or flat surface to place the board

Setting Up

The Mancala board is placed between the players. One side of the board should face each opponent. That means that each opponent has six small holes and the Mancala hole. Then place stones on each of the 12 small holes. That means you need a total of 48 stones to play this game. You can use smooth stones, marbles or med-sized beads to play this game. Remember, you don’t place stones in the Mancala hole when setting up the game. 

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Game Play

To start the game, the players decide the player to play first. The players can decide using the coin flip method to pick a winner. The first player picks up the entire stones from the rows closest to him or her and drops one stone in the holes following the counter-clockwise movement. That includes dropping stones in the opponent’s small wholes too. The player can drop stones into his Mancala hole and not into the opponent’s Mancala hole. You continue to share until you drop the last stone. The opponent starts to play after the first player exhausts his stones. The opponent follows the same sequence. 

Winning the Game

The game comes to an end when a player empties the stones on his entire six holes. After that stones in the Mancala holes are counted. The player with the most stones becomes the winner of the game. 

Mancala Game Nigerian Rule

In the Nigerian variant, when the player has just one stone and the last whole has three stones, the player takes the four stones into his Mancala hole. 

Mancala Game Egyptian Rule

For the Egyptian rule, a player gets to take another turn if his last stone stops at the Mancala hole. Also, if the last stone falls in an empty hole in his row, the player gets to take the last stone and the entire stone on the opposite hole. 

Tips to Win the Mancala Game

If you are using the Egyptian rule and you are the first person to play, always pick from the second hole so that your last stone will fall into the Mancala hole. 

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