How to Play Mancala

Math skills and strategic planning are essential to winning this ancient African game.


Up next in Board Games (15 videos)

Turn off the TV and get the family involved in a good old-fashioned parlor game; the rules are all here in this Howcast video series.

You Will Need

  • A mancala game board
  • Two players
  • 48 game pieces – or, "stones"


  1. Step 1

    Set up

    Place the mancala board lengthwise between two players and put four stones in each of the 12 small cups on the game board.

  2. The six smaller cups are playing cups. The larger cup at either end is the mancala.

  3. Step 2

    Pick up stones

    Pick up the stones in any of your six playing cups.

  4. Step 3

    Position pieces

    Drop your stones one by one into sequential playing cups, moving counterclockwise around the board. Include your mancala, but not your opponent's mancala.

  5. Step 4

    Alternate moving stones

    Take turns moving stones around the board. If your last stone falls into your mancala, you get another turn.

  6. Step 5

    Capture stones

    If your last stone falls in an empty cup on your side, take all the pieces from the player's cup directly opposite.

  7. Hoard all the stones you can on your side of the board.

  8. Step 6

    Pass out all of your stones

    Whoever runs out of stones on their side of the board loses the game. The player with remaining stones puts them in their mancala.

  9. Step 7

    Count the stones

    The player with the most stones in their mancala wins the game.

  10. Did you know? The word mancala means ''to move'' in Arabic.