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How to Play Mancala

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


  • 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.
  • TIP: The six smaller cups are playing cups. The larger cup at either end is the mancala.
  • Step 2: Pick up stones Pick up the stones in any of your six playing cups.
  • 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.
  • Step 4: Alternate moving stones Take turns moving stones around the board. If your last stone falls into your mancala, you get another turn.
  • 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.
  • TIP: Hoard all the stones you can on your side of the board.
  • 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.
  • Step 7: Count the stones The player with the most stones in their mancala wins the game.
  • FACT: Did you know? The word mancala means ''to move'' in Arabic.

You Will Need

  • A mancala game board
  • Two players
  • 48 game pieces u2013 or
  • "stones

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