Quick Tips and Tactics

  1. The first player should start with his 3rd hole as opening move as your last stone will land now in the mancala.

    This not only scores you a point, but gives you a second move.

    Now, play from your rightmost or second-rightmost hole. Either of these moves will drop a stone into your opponent's third hole to prevent him from making the same opening move.

  2. Try to make a move that will maximize the number of stones going into your Mancala.

    When stones go into your Mancala they cannot be taken out again with subsequent moves and you score points with it.

  3. Choose a move that will allow you to take another move. So, let the last stone in lands in your own Mancala.

    This allows you to add stones to your Mancala on more than one turn, but this may not always be the best strategy if it will empty your side of the board too quickly.

  4. Make "defensive" plays. Make a move on your turn that prevents your pieces from being captured by moving stones into the opponent's empty pit.

    This will not maximize stones going into your own mancala, but it can stop your opponent from capturing stones.

  5. Try to capture stones. You can empty a pit where the opponent's opposite pit is not empty.

    Create empty holes on your side of the board in order to capture.

  6. Empty your rightmost hole early in the game as this is directly next to your mancala zone.

    Whenever you pick up a single stone from that hole as your move, you will score a point and get another move.

    Your next moves should be to drop stones into your mancala zone for a free point, and then move again.

  7. Watch out your back for captures of your opponent.

    If one of your holes filled with stones is threatened, your next move could either be to fill the empty hole or play the stones from your full hole as a defensive move.

  8. Look ahead. The biggest key to winning at Mancala is planning ahead. It is kind of like chess--the key is knowing what you will do a few moves in advance depending on your opponent's move.

  9. Try the hoarding strategy. Hoarding is placing several pebbles in one hole and having it act as a little store. This serves two possible purposes: it keeps more pebbles on your side so that when the game ends, you get to capture all those pebbles. It also limits the number of pebbles your opponent has to work with.

  10. Avoiding Excessive Buildup. This preserves the option of starving the opponent. It allows more often for compound turns, which build up the mancala quickly.