Today I will be doing a review of the Mancala game by Cardinal. This is a game that I played for countless hours with my father growing up. The game itself is a very ancient game and is suspected to go back to when we were just learning how to cultivate crops.
Mancala by Cardinal
- Ages – 6 and up
- Players – 2
- Time – Short (15-30 minutes)
- Piece Movement
- Resource Management
How To Play
The board is set up so that each player has 6 holes per side and 1 larger hole or Mancala on either end where they score. Each of the 6 regular holes starts with four pieces in them. Players then take turns selecting piles of pieces to move around the board in an effort to collect the most in their Mancala.
Taking a turn consists of picking up all the pieces in 1 hole. Then you drop 1 at a time and move counter clockwise around the board. You drop 1 piece in each hole until you reach your Mancala. After dropping one in your Mancala, you then progress down the other player’s side of the board. You do not place any pieces in your opponent’s Mancala and if you still have pieces left, start going back down your row again.
There are three special rules that you need to pay attention to as you play the game:
- If, when taking your turn, you drop the last piece in your Mancala you may take another turn.
- If you place the last piece from your hand in an empty hole on your side of the board, you capture any pieces straight across in your opponent’s row. These pieces go right into your Mancala.
- If at anytime when a player’s turn ends and there are no pieces in any hole on one side of the board the game is over. Any pieces left in the other row are then placed in that player’s Mancala.
The player that has the most pieces in their Mancala at the end wins the game. Since there are only 48 pieces in this game you can play until a player has 25 pieces in their Mancala. Of course you can always play the whole game out and then keep score over several games.
The biggest positive to this game in my mind is the ease of play. From young to old and never played before, the game is very easy to pick up and play.
Even while it is easy to play, there are still many layers of strategy to this game. Can you set your self up to keep getting extra turns or do you go for trying to capture your opponents pieces by landing in an empty hole on your side? Either way you will be doing a lot of counting in your head to try and figure out how to win!
The overall quality of this game ranks top notch in my book. It comes in a metal case and is a solid wood board with a nice oak finish. The gemstones used as the pieces are big enough that they are easy to pick up.
In reading reviews of what other people thought of this particular game as well as playing it myself, the biggest challenge of this game is the size of the pieces as compared to the regular holes. It is very possible to not be able to fit all the pieces in the hole. I was able to pile up to 13 pieces in a hole before I could not get another to stay easily.
The only other thing that you need to watch out for is the way that the game is stored. While the quality is great, the way the metal case holds the game can be precarious at times. The wooden board folds up in half with all the pieces inside of it. Then it slides in one end of the case which is open. There in lies the danger as if you are not careful how you carry the case it could slide out and fall.
This is a great two player game that will fit just about any two players. Very easy to play, yet still has a lot of strategy. I would definitely recommend that this game be a part of your collection.
If you have any further questions about the game or how to play, please feel free to ask in the comments below. I also found a lot of good information at the site How to Play Mancala as well. I would also love to hear about your stories of playing the game and how it has impacted your life.
Lastly, if you are interested in purchasing this game you can buy Mancalahere at Amazon. You could also click directly on the ad below as well. We appreciate your support!