In this instructable, I will attempt to give a basic understanding of the game, and the rules to the variant we play. There are hundreds of variants to this game with the same board so use your imagination ( or a google search of Mancala ) to keep it interesting.
This is the basic board with 4 playing pieces per hole. The game can be played with 36 pieces or more, depending on your preference.
This board was made from 3/8 plywood crating material I salvaged, 2 boards approximately 7" X 25". For the slots I used a 2 1/2 " hole saw to make the slots, and a jig saw to trim excess material to make the end store areas. After sanding, the slotted board was glued to the whole board to form the bottom. For $1 I puchased enough marbles for 2 games. The slots could be carved into fine wood to make a fancy board, or circles can be drawn on paper for a spur of the moment game. Use your imagination with what you have to create your own.
The game is started with one player picking one piece, shuffling it between their hands, and their opponent trying to choose the hand that holds the piece. If the opponent picks the hand holding the piece, they go first.
In the first photo, my index finger indicates the first slot I choose to play from. I pick up all the pieces from that slot and drop them one at a time, counter clockwise around the board. Because the last stone landed in my store (right hand slot) I can move again. Using this strategy can allow for multiple moves per turn as the game progresses ( note that the number of pieces per slot continually changes throughout the game). For my next move I select the closest slot to my store . I count out the pieces until they are all placed, ending on the opponent's side of the board. This finishes my turn.
Note- If the number of pieces in this slot allowed him to reach my store, he would not drop a piece in my store. He would carry on to his side of the board until all pieces were dropped.
Now is the time to explain the capture aspect of the game. Note that the slot closest to my store is empty, and the 6th slot has 5 pieces. If during play, your last piece ends as the only piece in a slot on your side of the board, you capture all pieces from your opponent's opposing slot. Your opponent's pieces in this slot, as well as your single piece from your side of the board are placed in your store. This ends my turn.
There is one more rule we included in our version. Borrowing from chess, any of the game pieces may be touched or picked up during a turn. Once any of the pieces are placed in a slot or store that is not their original position, that move must be completed.
Because each play can change the number in each slot, Mancala can be a very dynamic game. Using different strategies to create multiple moves, block your opponent, or capture make it a timeless classic.
As my first instructable, I hope it was reasonably clear. I welcome all comments to improve this or any future instructables I make.