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This is an amazingly addictive and very simple game.
It is advertised as "one of the oldest game in the world" and I can see why . I was given this as a christmas present and we have been playing it and singing its praises ever since.
It ia a simple peice of wood with six small indentations and then two long indentations at each end of the board. The counters are made up of small glass beads - the sort you tend to have around candles, and each indentation contains 3 beads at the start of the game.
The bit that is a bit difficult to get your head around to start with is that you you don't have any dedicated pieces - your pieces are the ones which are on your side of the board.
Right so how do you play it. It really is simple. You select any of the indentaions and pick up the beads then you place one of the beads in the following indentations. The aim of the game is to try and get as many of your peices in the large indentation or Mancala. If your final bead lands in the Mancala then you get another go. You also get the opportunity to steal your opponents beads if your final bead lands in an empty indentation on your side of the board you can then take any beads on the opposite side (your opponents) and put them in your mancala.
The game ends when one side of the board has no beads left in the indentations.
The rules are so simple that it only takes a couple of goes before you get the hang of it and all ages can take part. It really is quite a skillful game - once you start playing you realise the type of tactics you can employ. It reminds me of backgammon at times but is nowhere near as complicated.
You can also play the game with a piece of paper and whatever you have at hand to make the counters, stones, coins, or tiddlywink counters and draw the 6 circles on each side with two longer rectangles at each end.
I also like the way that the game doesn't really take too long to play - typically 10-15 minutes so you can have a "best of 3" or just a quick game whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. Children and adults can play together and I would say that it is the sort of game which can ebb and flow so you don't just get someone who is really good at it so you don't want to play again because you always lose.
Great fun - give it a go