Not a day over 3,500 years old

This post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple

As I was cleaning up my gaming bookcase (yes, singular. I haven’t expanded to two…yet) my daughter asked what the wooden box was that made a rattling sound when I moved it.

“It’s called Mancala,” I responded.
“Macala?” Natalya questions.
“Mancala. Can you teach me that?” she asks.
“Absolutely.” I said enthusiastically.

Who am I to argue when my daughter wants to learn a game.


Playing Mancala in the Congo

The word mancala is derived from the Arabic word manqala. Their are hundreds of versions of mancala, including Bao, Wari, Mefuhva, and Kiuthi. Although most have the same basic objectives and methods of play, they differ in detail. Most boards are carved into pieces of wood from the very large to smaller, more portable ones. But the beauty of this game is that it can be played with stones found on the side of the road and the “board” etched or dug out into the dirt with a stick.

Most experts agree that the birth of this game was in the region of the world surrounding the Red Sea. The game is ancient. Mancala boards have been discovered dating back 3,500 years to cities such as Al-Qurna, Luxor and Karnak. It is considered one of the oldest games known and is still played today.

2014-06-08 18.23.53Gameplay: In the modern US version of Mancala, each player has six cups in front of them with 4 gems in each. To each player’s right is the mancala where stones accrue as points. On a player’s turn, they select a cup in front of them and redistribute the gems one gem in each cup counter-clockwise including their own mancala but skipping over their opponent’s mancala.

If the last cup is empty and gets a gem on the player’s own side of the board, that player scores that gem as well as any in the cup directly across from it. Once all six cups are empty in front of a player triggers the end of the game and the player with the most gems in their own mancala is the winner.

At the end of three plays, she said she liked playing it. Abstract as it is, she understood the game concept quickly. It’s an inexpensive game that can be acquired almost anywhere including Target and Wal-Mart or even most large chain pharmacy stores like CVS and Rite-Aid.

Viel Spaß!

A beautifully carved mancala board

A beautifully carved “Bao” board







Image Sources:

Please follow, like us, and share the love:

One fell off and bumped its head

This post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple

Too Many Monkeys - Mid Game (2nd round)Gamewright has proven yet again they can make a simple game that can be taught in just minutes and that my daughter has fun playing. Note: I’ve only played it with two players so far, so I can’t speak to a higher player count.

In Too Many Monkeys, the deck is composed of 55 cards numbered 1 – 6 as well as these special cards:

* Elephant and Giraffe cards – Ends your turn
* Orangutan card – Wild card
* Raccoon card – Search through the discard pile for a card you want
* Skip card – Assigned to another player, that player skips their next turn
* Do Not Disturb Card – Flip upside down any opponent’s card (more on this later)

Special Ability CardsGameplay: the object of the game is to go from 6 cards in front of you, to 5 then 4 all the way to 1. First player to do that wins. In the first round each player is dealt 6 cards face down in front of them. They can then take the top card from the discard pile and play it or take a card from the draw deck. If they get a number card, they place it in its appropriate numbered spot in front of them. The card that was there gets played. If that’s a number card then it gets placed, et cetera. If a card that is revealed is already face up in front of the player, then she discards that card and their turn is over. If an elephant or giraffe card is revealed, then she discards that card and their turn is over. The game continues to the next player. If a raccoon card is revealed, that layer discards it after they hunt through the discard pile for a card they want. If the orangutan card (wild card) is revealed that can be played in any open position in front of the player. If a card is revealed that can take the place of the wild, the player does so and can then place the wild card in a different location.

Too Many MonkeysIf the player flips over/plays all their cards and shows 1-6 then she wins the round. On the next round she is dealt 5 cards and all other players are dealt 6. Now the sixth card is useless to that player. If they win again then they are dealt 4 cards et cetera. Whomever has one card in front of them and plays a 1 on it is the winner.

Natalya really likes all games from Gamewright; it’s pretty much a no-brainer when you need a game for a kid. This game is a little whacky to explain in words to a kid. I found it easier to just play and show her. Natalya picked it up in one game. There is not a whole lot of strategy here as it is mainly luck driven by what card you pull from the deck or you have hidden in front of you. There is a little “take that” when Natalya pulls a “do not disturb” card and gets to flip a card back to face down in front of me. But other than that…total luck. And that’s ok.

Too Many Monkeys Box

Too Many Monkeys Box

It’s a fast game and plays in about 20 minutes or so. The game is for 2-6 players, ages 6 and up. The art is cute and the component quality is good which is pretty standard from the folks at Gamewright. I recommend it as I do for most games from these folks.

Viel Spaß!

Please follow, like us, and share the love: