Mancala games are probably the most wide-spead and diverse family of abstract strategy games besides the chess family of games. They originate in Africa, where most variations are still played today, but traditional games are also known in parts of the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Asia and Oceania.
The best known traditional mancala games are Oware, Congkak/Sungka, Toguz Kumalak and Bao. The most successful modern game is Kalah, in America often just called "Mancala".
Mancala games are two-player perfect information abstracts; the aspects that identify a game in this family are usually:
- Board consisting of many holes or pits, usually arranged in two, three or four rows.
- There may be two larger "storage" pits for the captured pieces.
- Almost all traditional games have just one kind of piece (seed), without distinction regarding ownership or value. This isn't true for many modern variations though.
- The pieces that a player can move are those in "his" pits, which are usually the ones in the nearest row.
- Movement consists of emptying one of the player's "own" pits and distributing ("sowing") the pieces in subsequent pits.
- Goal of the game is to capture more seed than the opponent or to be the last one who is still able to move (sometimes the first player who has emptied his pits).
Mancala games usually consist of one or two closed circular paths. However, there are too some modern two-dimensional games, which employ mancala-like sowing.
For more detail on the Mancala Family refer to the wiki entry