how to play mancala

How to Play Mancala As a Pro in 2022 (Ultimate Guide)

Mancala is a board game that is popular amongst the Africans and the MidWest so I’ll show you how to play mancala. It is derived from the Arabic word ‘ Naqala’ which means to move and is often denoted as a game where players “sow” and “capture” seeds.

Although this game has been around since the 7th century, it has still remained a favorite game in our generation and can be found in homes, museums, and often times, tourists attractions.

Mancala is fun and easy to learn, here’s how to play and win.

How to Play Mancala in 2022

To play mancala, you will need a mancala board (if you don’t have one, an empty egg carton can be used instead), 48 playing pieces which could be stones, beads, or whatever you have, and of course, a game partner.

How to setup the game

Since mancala is a board game, you should place the board between you and your partner. On the board, there are two rows of six small holes (also known as pockets) with a larger hole at the opposite ends, which is called the mancalas.

To set up, place four stones in each of the twelve pockets, excluding the mancalas. This makes it a total of 48 stones.

how to play mancala 2022

Objective of Mancala

The objective of mancala is to collect as many playing pieces as possible, this way, any player with the most stones in their mancalas, or first clears their side of playing pieces is declared the winner

How to play Mancala

There are 6 basic steps to playing mancala and each game lasts about five to ten minutes.

1. Decide who will start the game either with a coin flip or any other method. There is no real added advantage to going first or last.

2. You start the game by picking any pocket containing stone from your side and depositing the stones one at a time, in a counter-clockwise direction to the other pockets.

If your stone passes across one of the mancala holes, then deposit a stone in there until you exhaust all your stones. It is now your opponent’s turn.

3. If you encounter your partner’s store mancala, the mancala is skipped over. If you have enough stones to go past your own mancala, stones are deposited and you continue on the other side pockets.

4. If you’re left with just one stone, and it falls into your mancala. You are eligible to take an extra turn.

5. Also, if your last drop is in an empty pocket on your side, capture your stone and other stones directly opposite the pocket.

6. The game ends when a player’s six pockets are empty. The winner is the one with the most pieces.

Mancala Tips and Strategies

• To get a chance of gaining an extra turn, choose the sixth cup from your mancala as your first move. This will give you an extra turn and a shot to one playing piece in your mancala.

• To be able to gather more stones, drop your last stone into an empty pocket on your side of the board. This would allow you to reach across the board and take your partner’s stones that are in the opposite pocket.


Playing mancala requires you to think strategically and even though, there are plenty of ways to win, it takes some planning at a little knowledge of math to make a move with your stones.

Mancala may have originated during ancient times but it’s still played today in many variations in different cultures and to our surprise, mancala has made its way to the United States.