Apparently “Mancala” is actually a family of pit-and-pebble games, which I learned today. Play involves scooping up pebbles from a pit and sowing the pebbles, one at a time, into the other pits. These games were probably created in Africa hundreds (if not thousands) of years ago. Apparently the version we play would be better labeled Kalah, but I’m still going to refer to it as Mancala.

We’ve been playing Mancala a lot lately with Amber. It’s a two player game, played on a board of 2 rows x 6 pits. The two scoring pits on each end are used in play. You start with 4 pebbles in each pit. If you sow the last pebble onto your side of the board in an empty pit, you capture all of the pebbles on the opponent’s side of the board in the pit opposite of the one you sowed your last pebble into. If you sow your last pebble into your scoring pit, you can take another turn.

To be honest, I think I just like the way this game looks. The rules are fairly simple, and Amber is just as likely to win as David or me, but with the wood base and the colorful pebbles it just looks pretty.

I think I might want to give Oware a try. It’s a version of Mancala played on the same board, but apparently slightly more challenging, with more skill involved. There’s actually an Oware Society whose website provides a lot of history of the Mancala games and rule variations.

Our Mancala board was given to us as a gift and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.


  1. We play Mancala! My parents have a set with pretty colored stones, and my daughter has one with pieces that look like glass marbles sawn in half. It’s a fun game. I didn’t know there were other, more challenging versions- will have to look into that!

  2. Oh gosh, I haven’t played Mancala in such a long time! As a kid though it was one of those things that I would play with my cousins on family get-togethers. We had this Mancala board and I think we used to use coffee beans as stones!

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