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.

Mancala Strategy for Winning
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.

The 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.

Kids Play the Mancala Board
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.


5 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!


5 Most Popular Mancala Board Games
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 is 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

Playing Mancala
African Heritage Month in Halifax

Upcoming Mancala Event in Halifax

Thursday, Feb. 7. 


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 ahm.halifaxpubliclibraries.ca/events/ for more details.


The Best Sites 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.

Play Mancala Online
Playing Mancala Online


Mancala.playdrift.com, 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 CoolMathGames.com.

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.


ProProfs.com 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.