Mancala


History

Mancala is an ancient game and one of the oldest known games. There are many versions of Mancala – this one is called Oware and is played in much of West Africa and the Caribbean. The aim of the game is to capture your opponent’s seeds.

Rules

1. Each player owns the holes on their side of the board.
2. Place 4 seeds in each of the playing holes on your side of the board.
3. One player takes all 4 seeds from any hole on their side of the board and ‘sows’ them, one at a time, in an anti-clockwise direction around the board until all are used.
4. The other player then does the same, lifting 4 seeds from any hole on their side of the board.

Capturing Seeds
1. In order to make a capture, the last seed of a sowing must fall into a hole on the opponent’s side which already contains 1 or 2 seeds, making a total of 2 or 3 seeds in the hole. These can be captured and then removed from the board and stored.
2. If in the process of capturing seeds the holes immediately preceding this hole on the opponent’s side also have 2 or 3 seeds in them , these may also be captured. This would continue until a hole does not contain 2 or 3 seeds or is in your territory.
End of game
The game ends when one player has captured 25 seeds or more. Sometimes a situation arises when just a few seeds are left that the players are locked in an endlessly repeating cycle where neither is able to capture all the remaining seeds. If this happens both players captures the seeds in their own territory. The winner will then be the one with the most seeds.

General Rules
1. No player should capture seeds from their opponent’s side if this leaves them without seeds to play with.
2. If a player has 12 seeds or more in a hole and starts to play from that hole, they must skip this starting hole when sowing around the board.
3. When all the opponent’s holes are empty, the player must sow seeds into them if possible. If there is no possible move you can make to reach their territory, then you capture all the remaining seeds and the game is over.

Mancala.pdf


British Museum: Mancala.doc

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