Mancala World
Martian Mancala
Inventor: Dave Mattingley,
Variant of Dakon
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: USA

Martian Mancala was invented in 2002 by Dave Mattingly, University of Scranton, Pennsylvania (USA). It is a clever Dakon variant, which is played with Icehouse pieces.


Icehouse Pieces

The game is played on a board (or facsimile thereof), which is composed of two rows of six small spaces each and a large space at each each called "mancala", which serves as a store. A player controls the row on his side of the board.

At the beginning, each small space has one full "nest" of Icehouse pieces (a small piece inside a medium piece inside a large piece). In Europe, where Icehouse pieces are not available, players can take any type of pyramids, which fit onto each other as the color is unimportant.


Initially each small space has a stash of 3 pyramids.

On his turn, a player distributes (or "sows") the contents of one of his spaces counterclockwise. The topmost pyramid is moved first, as far as its pip-value (a large piece would move three spaces, a medium piece two, etc.), and is placed on top of any counter currently located in the destination square. Then the next pyramid is moved likewise, but its destination is counted starting from the space where the last counter was placed. The turn ends when all pyramids of the original space have been moved.

The pyramids are also sown into both mancalas. If a counter is moved once around the board into the original space, it becomes the bottom of a new stack there, but it is not moved again in the ongoing turn.

If the last pyramid falls on an occupied space (not a mancala), the player sows its contents in another lap.

If the last counter is dropped into the player's own mancala, he gets a bonus move.

If the last pyramid is placed in an empty space (not the player's own mancala), or in the opponent's mancala, the turn ends.

The game ends when, at the end of a turn, one player's small spaces are completely empty.

The player who has the greater worth of counters in his mancala wins. A large pyramid counts 3 points, a medium-sized 2 points and a small one 1 point.


  • Martian Mancala can be generalized to larger boards such as 2x8 and more counters (e.g. stacks of four pyramids), thus making the game even more challenging. The game could also be played with stackable chips, which have their pip value printed on them as numbers.
  • The counters that are left on the board at the end of the game are won by the player who moved last.

External Links


Mattingley, D.
Martian Mancala. July 23, 2007. [Former Web Site]


Adapted from the Wikinfo article, "Martian Mancala", used under the GNU Free Documentation License.