Mancala is an African board game, traditionally played by two, that is gaining in popularity throughout the U.S. as more people seek interesting new ways to entertain themselves at home. Mancala offers a respite from Chess, in that it does not require a high level of concentration and only a moderate level of strategy, so a 10-year-old child can successfully compete with adults, and all can enjoy themselves for hours – especially as players gain experience and experiment with the centuries-old variations that have developed all over the mancala-playing world.
Actually the game called “Mancala” in the United States is one variation of these many games which are referred to as “sowing” games. The fact that historically, mancala has been played by only two players at a time, did not prevent Square Root Games from ingeniously developing a board and method that allows four players to play at one time, making it a perfect evening game for couples or small families – or with more than one board “for 4” – tournaments!
In the U.S., Mancala is usually played by two players, each one occupying one side of the board, into which there are six depressions dug out (also called “cups” or “holes”) and one larger cup at each end of the board, called the “mancala”. The game begins with the cups having four stones in each one. The first player takes the stones in his “first” cup and drops them one by one into his other cups and, when necessary, into his mancala. Play continues until one player has no more stones in play on the board and s/he is the winner. There are interesting and enjoyable variations, such as when the object is for each player to place stones in his opponent’s cups to increase the number there and decrease his own. This requires a measure of forethought and strategy which makes the game very interesting without taxing the players’ brains, as in chess.
Mancala for 4 is made of a foldable square, sturdy wooden board with four mancala depressions in the center and six cups on each of four sides. The “stones” are beautifully-colored, polished glass ovals and the entire board will last for many, many years of enjoyment. Square Root Games also make a two-person travel Mancala, with a board that folds in half for easy carrying and a non-folding Mancala for two – all made from the same attractive solid wood and with the same stones. Besides Mancala, Square Root also offers a wide variety of interesting games and mind-teasing puzzles – both familiar and exotic. Please visit their website to see the complete line and expand your home entertainment possibilities. MjL
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