Mancala games are among those ancient games that last and last because the rules to play are simple, but the subtleties of winning take a long time to master. My Mancala is one version of these games, also called Kalaha. This particular incarnation uses computer player code by Geoffrey Irving (I never found time to write better code myself, and Geoffrey was kind enough to offer his). This should provide a more challenging game than the rudimentary code in my original game. Please let me know what you think.

The Rules

Mancala is played with seven pits — six playing pits plus one score pit, the Kalaha — per player. At the beginning of the game, each of the (12) playing pits contains 3 seeds (or beads or stones or balls or whatever). To play, the player chooses one pit from which to “sow” the seeds. Each seed in the pit is then placed, one at a time, into the successive pits, moving counter-clockwise around the board. Seeds placed in a Kalaha are points for that player.

Seeds are not sown in the opponent’s Kalaha. If the last seed in a play is placed in the player’s own Kalaha, they get another turn. If the last seed is placed in anempty pit on their own side of the board, then they Capture the seeds in the opposite (their opponent’s) pit. All captured seeds, as well as the capturing piece, are placed in the player’s Kalaha. The game ends when all of the pits on one side of the board are empty. The player with seeds remaining gets to put them into their Kalaha. The winner is the player with the most seeds.

Playing Mancala

To play, first select a difficulty level. The new computer player has three settings: “Easy”, “Intermediate”, and “Difficult”. Enter a name that will appear on the Mancala Scoreboard, if you do well enough, and press the “Play Mancala” button. Good luck!

Other Options & Info.

You always get to go first (for now). To play just click on the pit from which you’d like to move. If you want a hint, press the “Hint” button and Mancala Web will suggest a move for you. That’s it. Oh, one final note: Be sure to wait for the page to finish loading before you select your next move. Otherwise, your game might get messed up.

Notes on the Code

The computer player for this version of Mancala was written by Geoffrey Irving.

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