I love to play board games and recently I have been playing some classic board games that I remember from my childhood – classics such as Snakes & Ladders, Ludo, Chinese Checkers, Monopoly, Go for Broke etc. These games have been around for a very long time and are still loved and played today by children, adults and families, they have really stood up to the test of time. But I recently came across a game that I had never heard of before, even though it is among the oldest known games to still be widely played today and could date back as far as Ancient Egypt! This game is called Mancala.

Mancala is a game where players must “sow” and “capture” seeds or as we would play it today, capture more stones or marbles than your opponent. There are many different versions of Mancala, but I have been playing the Bigjigs Toys version of the game: a two-rank Mancala with a wooden board.

In the box:

  • Wooden Mancala Board
  • Glass Marbles
  • Instructions

Mancala is a game of strategy for two players, suitable for ages 3+ (although I would probably say for age 5+). It has a playing time of around 15 minutes.

The Mancala board is a wooden tray with 2 rows of 6 pits and a longer pit at each end (which is known as a Mancala), it measures 2cm H x 44.5cm W x 12.7cm D. The object of the game is that each player has 24 marbles (4 in each pit) and players must capture as many as they can to put in their Mancala. It is a very simple game to play but strategy and forward planning come into it more than you think.

A two player game, the players sit opposite each other with the Mancala board between them so each player has 6 pits each. Each player is given 24 marbles. Player’s place 4 marbles into each of the pits (also known pockets) on their side of the board.

Before play can begin, you must decide who goes first – flip a coin, youngest or eldest, or use your own favourite method for a fair selection.

The player that starts selects one of their pits on the board and grabs all the marbles from within it. Going counter-clockwise from the now empty pit, they must drop the marbles, one by one, into each pit around the board, including their own Mancala pit (they do not drop one in the opposing players Mancala pit). If the last marble is placed in an empty pit, you capture the stones in the opposite pit on your opponent’s side and place them in your own Mancala pit. Once a player has placed all the marbles from their hand on the board, it’s the other players turn.

When all 6 pits from one side are empty of marbles, the game comes to an end. The other player then takes all the marbles from the pits on their own side and places them into their own Mancala pit. The winner is the player with the highest number of marbles.


Overall, Mancala is a very simple game to play as it is moving and placing marbles and trying to capture your opponent’s ones. The real fun and skill of the game is trying to plan ahead and select the best way forward – it really can be quite strategic, which makes it suitable and fun for adults as well as children.

Strategy comes into play a lot, especially if you can work it that the last marble in your hand ends up in your own Mancala pit as this will give you another turn. And if you can plan it so that you drop your last marble into an empty pit on your own side, you can capture your opponent’s marbles in the pit directly opposite.

As it is a simple and fun game to play, with a 10-15 minute playing time, it can get very addictive. A game of strategic thinking and trying to work out your opponent’s next moves to plan your own. The strategy part is more fun for older players and the general game play will help younger players to develop counting and hand/eye coordination skills.

The only issue with this version of the game is that the marbles are slightly too big for the pits. The pits could do with being a little big bigger to accommodate more marbles or the marbles being made that little bit smaller. Although with younger players, you won’t want the marbles too small.

An interesting and fun game that is more enjoyable that I thought it would be. Lots of good fun for family game nights.

Rating: 4/5

RRP: £18.99

For more information or to buy direct, visit Available to buy from Amazon here.

4 Stars

DISCLOSURE: All thoughts and opinions are my own. This review uses an affiliate link which we may receive a small commission from if you purchase through the Amazon link.

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