How to Play makala

How to Play MANCALA!!!

The first in a series of Instructables (well, I might not make the others… I’ll try to remember) known as “How to play…”. In this series, I will teach you how to play some popular and fun board games, as well as give you some strategy, which makes it different from the poorly worded, unillustrated sheet of paper that comes in the box. Don’t forget to vote!

In this first Instructable (in the series, anyways), I will teach you how to play an age-old game called… MANCALA!!!

Step 1: Vocabulary and Set Up

Before the game begins, place the board between you and your opponent, long side facing you. You will see two rows of six “holes”, with a long “mancala” on each end. The board is divided into two parts: Your side and mancala, and your opponent’s side and mancala. Your side is the six holes closest to you, and your mancala is to your right. The same is for your opponent; their side is the six holes closest to them and their mancala is to their right.

To set up, place four “stones” in each hole, excluding the mancalas. This should total 48 stones. (A stone can be anything small; pennies, marbles, in my case some glass counters that came with the set).

Step 2: Basic Gameplay

Mancala is really an easy game to play.

Players decide who goes first using whatever method they want; Rock-Paper-Scissors, coin flip, loser-of-last-game-goes-first, whatever.

During a turn, a player grabs all of the stones in a hole on their side and drops them, one by one, in succeeding holes in a counter-clockwise direction. Players MAY place stones in their own mancala (it counts as a hole), but they MUST skip over their opponent’s mancala. Players MAY place stones in holes on their opponent’s side. This continues until the player has no more stones in his hand. It is then their opponents turn.*

*See exceptions in step 4.

Really sorry guys, the image notes aren’t working on my computer right now, so sorry if the pictures are a little hard to understand.

Step 3: Scoring and Winning

The game is over when a player (not both) has no more stones on his side. His opponent then takes all of the stones on his side and places them in his mancala. The winner is the person with the most stones in his mancala after counting.

In this sample game, Player 2 is the first to empty his side, so his opponent puts all the remaining stones on his side in his mancala. After counting, we find out that player 2 wins because he has 27 stones in his mancala, and player 2 has 21.

Step 4: *Exceptions, Tricks and Strategy

Now here’s the twist.

If, when dropping stones in holes, you drop a stone into your own mancala, and that is the last stone in your hand, then you get to go again.

If, when dropping stones into holes, you drop a stone into a hole that was previously empty, AND the hole is on your side, AND that was the last stone in your hand, you take all of the stones in the hole directly above, and place them into your mancala.

Good strategy is to, on your first turn (and if you’re going first), play the hole that is five holes away from your mancala. That way, the last stone you place will land in your mancala, and you get a free turn. After using your second turn, if your opponent plays a hole that is two or one hole(s) away from their mancala, play the hole that is six holes away from your mancala. You get another free turn!
It’s basically luck and thinking ahead from there. Post any ideas you have in the comments!

Step 5: Have Fun

I hope you found my second Instructable useful. Expect more to come!

Now go out there and steal someone’s money, wife and car! Oh, and then beat them at Mancala 🙂
(Thanks to ducklemon for the joke!)

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