top of page

Official Mancala Game Rules

The official rules for the Mancala board game. Mancala is a traditional board game that has been played for centuries across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and other regions. It's a game of strategy and counting, typically played by two players, though there are variations that allow for more players. The rules may vary slightly depending on the specific variation being played, but here are the basic rules for the most common version, known as "Kalah" or "Oware":

What You Need:

  • Mancala board

  • 48 markers



The Mancala 'board' is made up of two rows of six holes, or pits, each. If you don't have a Mancala board handy, an empty egg carton can work. Next, four pieces -- marbles or stones -- are placed in each of the 12 holes. The color of the pieces is irrelevant.


Each player has a 'store' to the right side of the Mancala board. (Cereal bowls work well for this purpose.)




The game begins with one player picking up all of the pieces in any one of the holes on his side.Moving counter-clockwise, the player deposits one of the stones in each hole until the stones run out.


1. If you run into your own store, deposit one piece in it. If you run into your opponent's store, skip it.

2. If the last piece you drop is in your own store, you get a free turn.

3. If the last piece you drop is in an empty hole on your side, you capture that piece and any pieces in the hole directly opposite.

4. Always place all captured pieces in your store.


Winning the game


The game ends when all six spaces on one side of the Mancala board are empty. The player who still has pieces on his side of the board when the game ends captures all of those pieces. Count all the pieces in each store. The winner is the player with the most pieces.



Planning ahead is essential to victory in board games like Mancala. Try to plan two or three moves into the future.

Mancala is a game of skill and strategy that is easy to learn but can take a lifetime to master. Enjoy the game and have fun!

Browse Related Games!

bottom of page