Mancala Club Rule Sets To Play At Home
Here are some of the rule sets we've been playing and a little bit of their history:
Round and Round (Seattle, WA, San Diego CA, Oakland CA): This rule set is the most common among children in Seattle schools and is the rule set we start with in our clubs because most children who play Mancala in Seattle play by this rule set. John was taught this rule set in San Diego by a friend of his and saw children playing it in schools in Oakland as well as throughout Seattle.
All the Way Round (Seattle, WA): This rule set is identical to Round and Round EXCEPT you either move stones clockwise around the board, OR you switch the location of the goal so you have to move stones ALL THE WAY AROUND the board to your goal. We learned this rule set in year 3 of Mancala Club from one of our club members who played it this way in her family. This version is really fun to learn if you are used to playing Round and Round because it shows you what a big difference changing just one rule in a game can make.
Capture/Kallah (USA commercial game boards): This rule set is most commonly included with store-bought Mancala boards. We called it "Capture" because of its cross capture rule that is very different from Round and Round. Many folks call it "Kallah."
Oware (Ghana): The National Game of Ghana, Oware is played in Ghana and other West African countries (though under different names) and is played by people in the Caribbean under the name Warri. There are international Oware tournaments organized by the Oware Society and many sophisticated strategies for this game.
Jiao Ti Tuong (China): A mom in our Mancala Clubs at the Robinson Center taught us this rule set that she played as a little girl with her friends. It is really fun because there are special stones worth 10 pts and it has different capturing rules and uses the holes at the end of the board for the 10pt stones instead of goals, PLUS you can pick which direction you move in.
Sungka (Phillipines): This is the rule set we were taught by a Lola (grandma) of one of our Mancala Club students and was how she played as a little girl in the Phillipines. It is almost identical to Round and Round Mancala EXCEPT for how you start the game and the "burned house" rule where you play multiple rounds of the game and the set-up of the board changes based on the score at the end of the game. If you can't fill all the holes on your side of the board with stones, those holes become "burned houses" and must be skipped as you move stones around the board. Careless players who drop stones in the burned houses as they go past lose them to the other player! This rule set requires an extra bit of memory and sharpness so you don't fill burned houses! Sungka boards are usually 2X7 or 2X8 holes long with 7 or 8 "stones" in each hole, and if you are playing traditionally you use seashells instead of stones. You can still have just as much fun playing on a 2X6 board.
Ayo Ayo (Nigeria): This rule set is fun because it uses the movement rules of Round and Round but the capturing rules of Capture/Kallah. The name Ayo Ayo or just Ayo sometimes refers to Oware rules and sometimes to these rules. This is why it's always good to talk through the rules with a new friend before you start playing.
Which one is your favorite and why?
What does each rule set have in common with other rule sets? What is different?
How do the differences in the rules change your strategy?
Are there any strategies that work with some games, but not others?
Are there any strategies that work with ALL of the games?