Games As Old As Time: 7 Ancient Board Games Still Played Today

From time immemorial, human beings have been playing board games. While many of these board games lost their luster quickly and soon went out of style, others persisted, maintaining their popularity throughout the years.

In fact, it might surprise you to learn that some ancient board games are still played to this day.

Curious as to what these board games are? Then, read on! We're going to discuss 7 of them below.

Stone Carving of Ancient Board Playing

7 Ancient Board Games That People Still Play

The following board games all saw their conceptions thousands of years ago. The fact that they remain popular to this day is a testament to just how enjoyable they are.

1. Chess

Played both competitively and recreationally, chess just might be the most successful board game of all time. Believed to have been created approximately 2,000 years ago, it's long renowned as the ultimate game for intellectuals.

Most historians agree that chess got its start in East India sometime between 280 and 550 AD. The original iteration included the same types of pieces, but with different names. The Indians referred to pieces as infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariots, to be exact.

From there, it caught on in Persia. Then, a few hundred years after that, it reached Europe. Once Europeans got a hold of the game, it grew substantially in popularity, eventually cropping up in every single continent aside from Antarctica.

2. Checkers 

The more-accessible brother to chess, checkers has actually been on the earth for a longer time. Believed to have first been developed around 3,000 years ago, the game evolved rapidly over its first few centuries.

While it got its start in the middle east, it quickly branched out, developing new rules as it reached different countries and cultures. A simple and rudimentary game, it was and still is played in all rungs of society.

Historians and archaeologists have found ancient checkers artifacts in a wide variety of places, including the pyramids of Egypt. The game was also written about in the early works of famed Greek philosophers such as Plato.

3. Mancala 

While not as well-known as checkers and chess, mancala is still a fairly popular game. Invented between the 2nd and 3rd centuries, the oldest known mancala relics existed in a Roman bathhouse in Gedera, Israel.

Upon its creation, mancala began to travel quickly throughout the world. It first arrived in Africa, and then eventually made its way up to Europe. From there, it spread to North America, South America, Asia, and Australia.

Never heard of this game? If not, you should give it a go. It's a great game for children, in particular.

Consisting of a board with 12 pits as well as a collection of stones, it can be played in a variety of different ways. However, regardless of the way you're playing, your game will involve the transfer of stones from one pit to another.

4. Chutes and Ladders 

Also called snakes and ladders, the game chutes and ladders has been around for approximately 2,000 years. Invented in ancient India in the 2nd century AD, it's one of the most popular kids' board games of all time.

Unbelievably, chutes and ladders remained confined to India for well over a thousand years. It didn't really take off until the 19th century, at which point the English adopted it and altered it to fit within their Victorian-era ideals.

In 1943, American board game pioneer Milton Bradley took the game and turned it into a mass manufactured phenomenon. This transformed it into one of the most popular games in the world, a game which lives on thanks to the existence of family get-togethers and child play dates.

5. Senet 

One of the oldest known board games, senet was devised in ancient Egypt as far back as 3500 BC. Archaeologists have found artifacts from the game in burial grounds believed to have originated during the First Dynasty and Predynastic eras.

This game involves a board made out of wood or stone, and several pawns made out of stone as well. While historians are not exactly sure as to how the game was played in ancient times, board gaming enthusiasts have used ancient writings in order to reconstruct the rules and bring the game a new life.

Truthfully, this game was out of practice for thousands of years. The only reason it exists now is that history buffs had a desire to recreate it. Nonetheless, board-gamers are still playing it in some capacity.

6. Backgammon 

Along with senet, backgammon is one of the oldest board games in existence. Historians believe that this game dates back to 3000 BC. This is based on the spot in which it was found, an archaeological site in modern day Iran.

Nobody knows how backgammon spread, but it's fairly obvious that it did. After all, it exists in every continent on the planet.

A 2-player game, it's still quite popular today. Considering it's been around for about 5,000 years, there's no reason to believe that it will go out of style any time soon.

7. Go 

A two-player strategic game in which both players try to surround as much area as possible, Go has existed for over 2,500 years. Developed in China, it was first referenced in history books in 548 BC.

From China, it eventually made its way to Korea and Japan. As its popularity grew in those countries, it began to make its way through the rest of Asia, then Europe, and then the entire rest of the world.

Today, it's estimated that approximately 50 million people know how to play Go. Close to half of these individuals live in the continent of Asia.

Looking to Learn Mancala Games? 

Perhaps you're an avid player of some of these ancient board games? Maybe you're interested in playing some of them for the first time? If so, we advise going for it.

Are you interested in playing mancala, specifically? If so, our website may be of some use to you. We have information on a wide range of mancala games, helping both new and experienced players to expand their horizons.

Start playing mancala online now!


Playing with a Mancala Capture Rule? Then You Need These Tips to Win

Even in the face of augmented reality, portable mobile games, and PCs, the board game industry is expected to be worth over eight billion dollars by 2021.

If you are eager for a simple, but strategic game to debut with family or friends, you may want to consider Mancala. This is a game requiring strategy, math, and outsmarting your opponent.

It's also great to use in classrooms with children.

While there are many strategic moves possible in Mancala, read below for our top Mancala capture tips and how to win every time!

Where to Start

Are you going first? If so, the hole you play from first can make a big difference. Starting with your hole that is four away from your own mancala is a solid choice.

This will not only give you a piece in your mancala right away, but you will also get a second turn!

Each stone you land in your Mancala is worth points and safe from your opponent.

Unless it impedes your chances at a capture (see below!), always take the opportunity to score a point for yourself.

Create Empty Holes for a Mancala Capture

Not every version of Mancala abides by the capture rule, but if the one you are playing does, get ready.

The capture rule refers to a scenario when your last stone of a move lands in an empty hole on your side of the board. If this happens, you can capture any stones in the hole directly opposite of it.

You get to place the 'capturing stone' in your mancala too.

...and Watch for Empty Holes

Just like empty holes on your side is good for you, your opponent will be trying to create a capture situation as well.

To avoid this, you must be mindful of any empty holes on their side. Count stones in all your opponent's holes in order to determine if they are capable of landing a final stone in the empty hole.

If you see a possible threat, you have two options. Make a move that will fill their empty hole, or play your stones across from the empty hole to defend them.

Think Ahead

One final tip for playing Mancala? Be at least two steps ahead of your opponent. It's just like playing chess. You must anticipate every possible move.

If you struggle to calculate your next few moves, a good strategy option is hoarding.

Hoarding simple means placing multiple stones in one hole on your side and not playing from it. This serves two functions. It ensures you will have stones at the end of the game and also limits the stones your opponent can use.

Just be wary of a potential capture!

A Board Game for All Ages

Playing Mancala is a great way to spend time with your loved ones. Whether or not it gets competitive with Mancala capture rules is up to you.

Deep Hand Carved Mancala Board

Interested in finding a new and unique Mancala board? Check out these beautifully crafted options!


What's the Best Mancala Strategy for Winning?

Mancala is a game that is popular around the world. In fact, it is one of the oldest known games on earth that is still played today.

Playing Mancala simply requires a board with a series of holes arranged in rows, typically two or four. It can be played with beans, stones, or even seeds, that are placed into the holes during play.

Let's take a look at some key points of a winning Mancala strategy that will help you be a champion.

Mandinka Labeled as an Ancient African Strategy Game

What's the Best Mancala Strategy for Winning?

Do you want to know a few tips on winning Mancala? Check out the keys to winning at one of the most challenging games in the world.

Strategy is of utmost importance in this game, thus having one extra stone in your Mancala (the long holes at each end of the board) can easily mean the difference between winning and losing.

Your Opening Moves

When you have the first move, a winning strategy is to start with the 3rd hole open so that your last stone will land in the Mancala. This gives you a second move plus scores a point.

For your second move, play a stone from the rightmost or second-rightmost hole, because either of these moves will put a stone in the opponent's third hole, thus blocking him from making the same opening move as you.

Stay Focused On Reaching Your Mancala

The best strategy for reaching your Mancala is to make moves that always allow you to move again. To do this, your last seeding stone needs to land in your own Mancala.

You also want to make moves that prevent your opponent from being able to move more than once.

Make the Most of Your Rightmost Pit

This is a great technique to remember: Empty the rightmost holes as soon as possible. This allows you to accelerate reaching your Mancala while voiding having to pass stones to your opponent if more than one stone accumulates in the rightmost hole.

Be Aggressive

While you obviously want to focus on reaching your Mancala on each turn, if this isn't possible, at least aim to capture stones from your opponent's side of the board.

Much like the game of chess, one of the keys to success is planning ahead and predicting the opponent's moves, and choosing your moves accordingly.

Be aggressive but also watch your back. Remember that if one of your holes filled with stones is threatened, either play the stones from that hole defensively or fill the empty hole.

Stay Flexible

Learn to manage the number of stones in each hole. This is a great way to starve the opponent while also providing you with the most possible strategies.

One such strategy is to set up baits that will lure the opponent into making moves that will cost them later.

Another powerful strategy is by hoarding, or placing several of your stones in one hole, treating it like a little store. This limits the number of stones the opponent has to work with while also keeping more of the stones on your side, making them easier to capture.

The Ultimate Game of Strategy

It's not hard to understand why Mancala has remained popular for so long. It's a game that is both fun and challenging. Simple to play yet requiring deceptively complex strategy in order to master.

The better you become at Mancala strategy the more fun you will have. So study these tips, practice, and have fun as you become a master of the game!

Click here to see Mancala boards from around the Web.


Can Kids Play the Mancala Board Game? They Sure Can!

Mancala is considered one of the oldest board games in the world. Generically, the term refers to a two-person game using round objects and rows of holes. The objective of the game is to capture most of the round objects.

The modern Mancala game consists of two rows of holes and marbles, where the strategy is to get more marbles into your area than your opponent.

Although the modern board game uses marbles, the game traditionally used stones, beans, and seeds. Some believe the game originated between farmers, who came up with the game after a day of sowing seeds.

But can kids play the Mancala board game?

Keep reading to learn why your kids will love playing Mancala.

Moving Seeds on a Mancala Board

The Mancala Board Game

Here are the basics of the Mancala board game:

Number of Players: 2
Age: Recommended for those 8+
Length: A single game takes approximately 15 minutes
Objective: Have the highest number of marbles in your player-controlled hole (or pit). This hole is typically the largest one at the end of each side. One player owns one of the holes and the other player owns the other.
Gameplay: Both players allocate an equal number of marbles (or seeds, stones, etc.) into each of the holes on the board. During a turn, the player picks up all of the marbles from one pit. Going counter-clockwise, then the player deposits them into each of the following pits, including their private pit. If the last marble in a pit lands in the private pit, the player gets to go again. The game ends when all of the marbles are off the board or a player is unable to make a legal move.

Why Mancala is Great for Kids

Here are three reasons why Mancala is a great board game for your kids.

1. Forward-thinking and Mathematical Reasoning

Mancala helps teach kids to think ahead. This is because to win the game, you have to foresee the outcome of your moves. The game also requires you to count the marbles and holes to figure out where you will land, and which move will lead to the greatest capture of marbles.

2. Team Building

Although Mancala is typically played as a two-player game, you can make it a team effort. This will allow the kids to come up with strategies, work together, and explain why their move may be better than others. Mancala can build vital communication skills and teamwork.

3. Vary in Complexity

Modern Mancala board games consist of two rows, which is a great way for kids to learn the game. However, once they learn gameplay and start to succeed, you can easily expand upon the game. You can add additional rows or make complex rules, encouraging your child to push themselves in order to win.

Final Thoughts

Mancala has been around for thousands of years, and for good reason. The game is not only fun, but it challenges players to think ahead, count, and come up with effective strategies against an opponent.

The Mancala board game is a great addition to your family's game set. For more articles on the history, diversity, and strategy of the Mancala game, visit our website today.


Five of the Most Popular Mancala Board Games in the World

If you know anything about Mancala, you probably know that it's one of the oldest board games in the world. Mancala is a basic played all around the world in many different cultures. It actually is a family of games, all sharing a basic set of rules.

If you're a board game enthusiast, you're probably wondering about different kinds of mancala board games that are played around the world. There are a lot of cool variations of this classic board game.

Here, you'll learn five of the coolest!


In all kinds of mancala, you have a board with an even number of holes in it that are arranged in two rows. Each of these holes has small beads or marbles inside which the player picks up. You keep putting one bead in each hole around the board.

Once you drop your last marble into a hole, you pick up all the beads in that hole and keep moving them around the board in the same way. You keep doing this until your last bead falls into an empty hole. The object of the game is to clear all the holes on your side of the board and win!

People tend to call the most common variant of this Kalah. This is the mancala game that's the most popular with people in the US. Kalah boards were first marketed in the 1960s and are what has the same gameplay and rules as mancala today.


Bohenspiel is one of the earliest variants of mancala. The word "bohenspiel" means "bean game," and it is from Germany. This term probably comes from the fact that it was a pit and seed game here.

In bohenspiel, you want to bring the total number of seeds in a hole to two, four or six. Unlike in Kalah, all other of the previous holes that have two, four, or six beads are captured, too!

Eson Xorgal

If you want to hear about a really interesting mancala game, think about Eson Xorgal from western Mongolia. In this game, there are 10 holes (known here as cups) rather than Kalah's twelve. It's also traditionally played with goat droppings- not your average board game!

In this mancala variant, your goal isn't to clear the board, but instead to capture more droppings than your opponent. In most mancala games, pits are owned by specific players, but not in this one!


Oware Board with Lion Head

Oware, from Ghana, is also a really interesting mancala variant. Instead of only having two rows of six holes, Oware has four rows of eight holes for even more fun!

Each of the hollows is originally filled with 12 seeds. Players, similarly to in Kalah, take turns alternating between themselves to fill the holes and distribute the seeds. Like in Eson Xorgal, your objective is to capture more seeds than your opponent.


AyoAyo is a variant that originates in Western Nigeria. In it, the player captures pieces from the opposite cell from where they finish rather than the one they end in.

But before you prematurely think this game is difficult, you should know that players need to have entire opening sequences for the game memorized before they play, so this game has a whole different element of difficulty!

Enjoy Playing the Mancala Board!

As you can see, there are a lot of fun variant of mancala that you can try. Since mancala is really a lot of different games in one, you're sure to have a lot of fun trying out different types and finding out which mancala board is your favorite!

Now that you know all about the different types of mancala, you might want to check out this link to see why mancala is the coolest board game of all time!

Have fun!

HRM celebrates African Heritage Month by Playing Mancala

African Heritage Month in Halifax

Upcoming Mancala Event in Halifax

Thursday, Feb. 7: Mancala: A Classic African Board Game is taking place at the Halifax North Memorial Public Library at 3:30 p.m. It’s for all ages and registration is required. Expert player Ayo Aladejebi will be on hand to teach the basics of the game. Visit for more details.

HRM celebrates African Heritage Month | The Chronicle Herald

The Best Places to Play Mancala Online for Free

Mancala is a game that's been around since 500 AD. The reason why it's persisted through all of these years is simple: it's a fun, challenging brain game that can be played at all ages.

But not everyone is lucky enough to own their own Mancala board. And even if they do, what if you're itching to play and you have no one to play with?

That's where this post comes in. We're going to tell you about the best sites to play Mancala online for free, so you'll never get the Manacala urge without relief again.

Playing Mancala Online, in our opinion, is one of the best options you can get for online Mancala play. Why? Because it allows you to play with other online players instead of just against a computer.

It also has an easy to use interface so you won't have to waste time being confused about how to set up your online game or which buttons to press to make your next move.

You can also chat with other players to easily connect with other Mancala players!

Cool Math Games

Did you know that Mancala has connections to logic, reasoning, and mathematics? It's no wonder it's played in the classroom as well as on websites like

This is another free website where you can play Mancala along with other math centered games like Sudoku and 2048. Cool Math Games' version of Mancala makes it clear whether it's your turn or the computer's turn. It also animates the board so you can exactly how each turn plays out. has the same version of Mancala that's on Cool Math Games, but the website is worth visiting. Like Cool Math Games, it also offers other intellect-centered games like word games, Sudoku, crosswords, and logic puzzles.

Two Player Games

Two Player Games offers up a bit of a twist on the classic Mancala board that the other sites we've mentioned offer. Instead of the classic rocks or beads, this version uses snails as your playing pieces.

You can either play by yourself against a computer (with three different difficulty levels) or you can play a two player game with your friend.

This is a fun twist on the classic version of the game, all while keeping the same rules, strategies, and culture that made it a popular game for over 1000 years.

And besides the first option to play against random online players, this is the only other online option on our list that allows you to play against someone else instead of against a computer.

Ready to Play Mancala Online?

The world's oldest game has entered the modern age with Mancala online games. Available in both the classic board form and now a digital version, Mancala is sure to maintain its popularity for the foreseeable future.

Want to learn more about this ancient game? Check out our post about the history of Mancala as well as how Mancala is relevant in modern times.


Northwood students Drop Everything and Play Mancala

Students Playing Mancala

Northwood Elementary School in Hilton dropped everything they were doing to take 50 minutes and play the game Mancala. Take a look at the article below:

Northwood students 'Drop Everything and Play

Top 10 Benefits of Playing Mancala

Have you heard of or played the game of mancala? If you have, you have played the most common game in the world. 

Custom Mancala Board

Let that sink in for a moment. A simple game managed the task of connecting the entire planet. And did so long before Facebook, Twitter or the internet.

People from childhood all the way thru old age can benefit from playing Mancala. Since most people are familiar with the game, very little time will go to explaining it.

But in case you have never played, here is a simple explanation of gameplay. There are 12 cups with two long stores at the end. Each cup has 4 seeds in it.

Players take turns taking all the seeds from one cup on their side. They "sow" them in counter-clockwise order. Players sow one seed per cup including their own store in the order.

When they run out, their turn is over, unless they land in their store with the final seed, then they get a free turn. If the land in an empty space on their side, they capture that seed and any in the cup directly across from it.

Simple yes, but how can such an elementary idea be useful? Read on to see.

1. Learning to Count

As young children learn to count, having something small to hold helps the process. Just being able to pick them up and count them out, as they drop them cements the learning process.

If you want to make it even more fun for them, play with M&M's or chocolate chips. Let them eat as high as they can correctly count. Mixing learning with sweets creates external motivation and makes learning fun.

2. Playing Mancala for Fine Motor Skills

If you know anything about child development, you have heard of fine motor skills. These small movements include holding pens, picking up beads or opening candy wrappers. They take practice and effort to learn.

Mancala helps by teaching them to pick up multiple items and set down one at a time.

3. Taking Turns

As with any game, children learn to move their pieces one at a time. Instead of thinking they can move all they want, they learn to wait their turn.

It may come as a shock to the uninitiated what a difficult task this is for children to master.

4. Critical Thinking

Mancala teaches critical thinking at each age group. And it does so whether players realize it or not.

And, unlike chess or checkers, the movements, pieces, and gameplay stay simple. Some versions get more complex, but those are best for older children.

You may have noticed the great lack of critical thinking in our "google it" society. Mancala can help build that trait in children you know.

5. A Fun Project

If you want to kill a couple hours with your kids, build mancala boards with them. You can do this any of a hundred different ways.

Try it with egg cartons if you want to do it fast. Or cut down paper cups if you rather it took longer. Or if you want to keep them occupied for hours, in which case use sandpaper and wood.

Also, try decorating vase beads with paint markers for even more fun.

6. Math Skills

Subitizing means understanding the total number without counting them. You look at a star on the flag and you know it has five points. You see a traffic light and know automatically it has 3, 4 or 5 lights without counting them.

Mancala helps children recognize how many seeds are in a cup without physically counting them.

Also, it helps to introduce some ideas of multiplication. 6 cups on my side with 4 seeds per cup means how many seeds?

7. Keeping the Brain Young

It's no secret that degenerative brain disorders plague our society. Board games, in general, seem to have a positive impact on long-term brain health. Mancala does as well.

Critical thinking skills don't only help children. Everyone could use a good dose of brain-boosting activity like what mancala provides.

8. Playing Mancala as Part of Drug Rehab

In recent years, drug addiction treatment has come under scrutiny. Many suggest that helping addicts to re-enter society by aids in permanent recovery. It helps even more when you use a positive social game.

Mancala makes an excellent choice here. The games go quick and the payoff for a win is instantaneous. Plus, it helps people connect thru conversation while playing.

If you seek long-term drug recovery for yourself or someone else, try playing Mancala.

9. Physical Rehab

Just as it can aid in fine motor skills for toddlers, mancala makes great physical rehab. The game requires picking up multiple pieces and transferring one at a time from palm to fingers.

It engages muscles in the entire hand, brings blood to the tendons, hits the thumb muscle. As an added benefit, it strengthens the mind-muscle connection between the brain and hand.

10. A Great Social Game

Last, but not least, playing mancala at a game night makes for a fun time. You can even play group variations to spice things up a little. Or maybe make it into a tournament.

No limit exists to the amount of fun you and your friends can have playing mancala together. The simplicity of the game makes rounds go quick. The underlying strategy makes the competition intense.

Further, the rule variations keep you and your opponents on your toes and focused.

Time to Start Sowing

The benefits are there for sure. Why not start playing Mancala with some friends today?

If you don't have a board already, you can make one from a few things around the house. Or, if you prefer more decorative types, check out these options here.

You don't need anything fancy. But some solid wood boards with high-quality stones will last longer.

But whatever you choose, start sowing the pieces today and reap the benefits for the rest of your life.


Learn Everything There Is to Know About the Mancala Rules

Mancala is one of the oldest games still played today. In fact, it dates back to sometime between 500 and 700 A.D.

It's no surprise that a game with thousands of years of history can be played many ways. People throughout Asia, Africa, North America, the Caribbean, and the Baltic region of Europe may have some varying mancala rules, but the most popular one in North America is known as Kalah.

Whether you play with seeds and holes in the ground or a nice wooden board, mancala is a great way to sharpen your thinking skills. To learn all the important mancala rules you need to win, keep reading below.

What You Need

Mancala has existed for thousands of years because it's easy to play. You don't need extravagant equipment to enjoy this game. You can even play without any materials at all.

The fancier versions of mancala involve manicured wooded boards with pits carved out. The common Kalah board has two rows of 6 pits arranged parallel to each other, as well as two larger pits at either end.

The nicest mancala sets use shiny pebbles to deposit in the pits.

If you don't have an official mancala set, don't fret. You can simply dig holes in the ground and use seeds to play with. If you're creative enough, you could find many different resources to use to play this great game.

Your Purpose

The smaller pits should have an equal number of pieces in them - usually about four. The larger pits, however, are left empty. The goal of the player is to gather more seeds in their pit than their opponent.

Polished Rich Wood Grain Mancala Board

The Gameplay

Although this game is intellectually challenging, the gameplay is quite straightforward and simple. Players simply take and deposit their pieces into the pits sequentially.

Where the game gets tricky is in the strategy. Players should strategically choose their pit during each turn. Then, they deposit each piece - one by one - into each pit in a counterclockwise direction. Make sure not to skip the large pits during a turn.

A player can continually deposit pieces if their last piece lands in a pit with other pieces in it. Those pieces are picked up and the cycle of depositing continues. It will not end until the last piece lands in a pit with no pieces in it.

How to Win

Players should be careful which pits they choose as the goal of the game is to get more pieces in their designated, large pit.

If a player winds up without any pieces on their side of the board, the game ends. Any pieces leftover on the opposing side will go to that player. Ending up without pieces will usually lead to a loss. 

Mancala Rules and More

Mancala rules and gameplay are so cognitively stimulating that teachers often use it in their mathematics classes. It's a perfect game for anyone who wants a little challenge with their recreation.

To get started with your first, official mancala board, don't forget to stop by our page!


Learn the Ancient History of the Mancala Origin

Mancala is a fun and easy game that has been loved for ages. In fact, it's one of the oldest known games in the world.

If you love playing mancala, you'll be interested to know its story and how it became so popular. Read on to learn more about mancala origin!

Mancala Origin and History

Mancala is one of the oldest known two-player board games in the world. It is believed that the game began in ancient Africa.

Evidence of the ancient board game has been found dating back to the year 700 AD. These archeological treasures were first found in Aksumite settlements in Matara, Eritrea) and Yeha, Ethiopia.

It is believed that Arabian traders brought the game with them when traveling to distant lands. The game's modern version, "Mancala," is a derivative of an Arabic word - Naqala, which means "to move."

Its name seems to be quite suitable as this ancient game was quickly adopted around the world. In fact, the travels of Arabian traders helped cement the game's international popularity.

Even hundreds of years ago, this beloved game was commonly played in a variety of countries in southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the Baltic states, and North America.

While mancala took longer to catch on in Europe, it continued to grow elsewhere. Its simple and enjoyable nature contributed to its popularity.

These historical origins map the story of a game played thousands of years ago. From a single point of creation to its vast consumption across the world, this ancient game bears little difference from the version played today in your own home.

Carved Wood Mancala Board with Handle

Modern Gameplay

Mancala was believed to have been brought to the United States along with the enslaved African people. Today, it's still one of the most widely played board games in the world.

Beautiful mancala boards are available online and delivered to your door with the click of a button. This is far different from the amount of effort that was once required.

While the name of the game may change, the traditional mancala board has largely stayed the same. Its modern version, which is most commonly played in the west, is commonly referred to as Kalah.

This "count and capture" game was introduced to the American market in the 1940s. It was both easy to play and easy to love. Quickly, Kalah became a popular pastime and is still the most popular Mancala game in the western hemisphere.

Mancala: The Legend Continues

Through the ages, the appeal of mancala has never disappeared. This simple game has been played by both kings and commoners and still brings joy to modern players.

If you're new to it, learning the rules is simple. If you're an experienced player, you may have an interest in gameplay strategy.

Regardless, our website offers great insight into the magical world of mancala. To learn more about mancala origin or improve your technique, check out our other posts for helpful tips.


Learn How to Play Mancala in 5 Easy Steps

Are you looking for a game to play that is simple and fun for all ages?

Enter mancala. Mancala is one of the most beloved board games around the world, and it's actually been around for quite some time. In fact, archeologists have actually found evidence of the game in Africa dating back to between 500 and 700 AD.

If mancala has made it through hundreds of years of history, it's clear that it's definitely a game worth knowing about.

But, how exactly do you play mancala?

Read this guide to learn how to play mancala in 5 easy steps.

1. Set Up the Board

First things first, you need to make sure you have the right set up.

Place the board between you and the other player, with the long side of the board facing you. You should see two rows, each with 6 cups, and one long cup on each end, also known as the "mancala" (meaning "to move").

Your side is the 6 cups closest to you, and your mancala is the one to the right of you.

To set up the board, place 4 stones in each cup, with the exception of the mancala cup. In total, there should be 48 stones on the board.
Wood Mancala Board with Polished Stones

2. Gameplay

To decide which player goes first, you can either flip a coin or play Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Then, the game begins by the player picking up all the stones in one cup on their side of the board. They can choose to pick up stones from any of the cups on their side, however, they must drop the stones in the succeeding cups, and they must drop them in a counter-clockwise direction.

Players can place stones in their own mancala cup, however, they cannot place stones in their opponent's mancala cup. But, they may place stones in the other player's cups.

If your last stone falls in the mancala, then you are allowed another turn. If your last stone falls in a cup that is empty on your side of the board, then you take all the stones from the player's cup that is directly opposite yours.

The goal is to get as many stones on your end and in your own mancala as possible.

The game ends when one player does not have any stones left on their side of the board. At this point, each player is to count their own mancala stones. The player with the most stones at the end wins the game.

3. Extra Tricks and Tips

As we said earlier, if the last stone you place is in your own mancala, then you get to take another turn.

Therefore, if your turn is first, then you should play the cup that is five cups away from your own mancala.

After taking your second turn, if your opponent chooses to play a cup that is one or two cups away from their own mancala, then make your next move from the cup that is 6 away from your own mancala. Again, you will get a free turn!

How to Play Mancala: Have Fun!

Of course, the most important part of playing mancala is having fun!

You can pretty much take a mancala board anywhere, so get ready for this to be your new favorite game.

And, now that you know how to play mancala, it is time to purchase your own board. Comment below if you have questions about choosing a mancala board.

And, if you're looking for cool places to play mancala, be sure to check out this post.