It’s time to move on from Ludo and try this stimulating game instead
Although you could play games on iMessage with friends for a long time, the need for it had never felt more imperative than this year. Everyone’s looking for new ways to connect with people virtually and not go out of their minds.
If you, too, have given all the traditional games a go and are looking for something new, look no further. Mancala might just be the game for you. If you’ve played it as a board game, great! You’re going to have just as much fun playing it on your phone. But if not, you’re in for a treat while learning to play this game and have fun with your friends while you’re at it.
How to get Mancala in iMessage
Mancala is available directly in the App Store if you want to play it without iMessage. But if you try to find it in the iMessage App Store, you’d come up empty-handed.
And yet, you can swear people everywhere are playing it on iMessage. That’s because you’re searching for the wrong thing. Go to the Messages app and open any iMessage conversation, existing or new.
Then, tap the ‘App Drawer’ icon on the left of the messaging textbox.
The app drawer will appear beneath the existing toolbar. Click the ‘App Store’ icon from the app drawer to open the App Store for iMessage.
Tap the ‘Search’ icon and search for ‘GamePigeon’ in the App Store.
Tap the ‘Get’ button to install the app.
Then close the App Store and return to messages. The GamePigeon app will appear in your app drawer. Swipe left or right on the app drawer to navigate through the apps. Tap the icon for GamePigeon to open it.
The list of available games will open. Tap ‘Mancala’ to play Mancala on iMessage with the other person in the conversation.
How to Play Mancala
You can play Mancala in iMessage between two players in two modes: Capture and Avalanche. The rules for both the modes vary only slightly from each other. Choose the mode you want to play in, select the difficulty level, and send the game. Whoever sends the game to the other person has to play the second turn.
As soon as your turn is over, iMessage sends the played move to the opponent so they can play their turn. In iMessage, you can play with the opponent in one stretch of time. Or you can stretch the game over a long time, where each plays and sends their move whenever they have time.
The basics of the game remain the same, whichever game mode you choose. The board of the game consists of two rows. Each row has 6 holes in it, known as “pockets”. At the end of the board on both sides, there are single large holes known as “mancalas” or “stores”.
The two rows and the mancalas are divided between the players, such as each player owns a single row and one mancala. Your pockets are the ones on your side, and your Mancala is the one that’s below the pockets on your screen. The view for both players is different, so your pockets are always on the left and your mancala at the bottom in the iMessage game.
There are 48 stones in the game, placed evenly between all pockets. That means at the beginning of the game, each pocket has 4 stones, and both mancalas are empty.
Now, the objective of the game is to deposit stones from these pockets into your mancalas until one row on either side of the board is empty. Whoever has the most stones in their mancalas at the end of the game wins.
Now, how to deposit the stones depends on the mode you’re playing in the iMessage game.
Playing Mancala in Capture Mode
The game starts with the first player tapping one of their pockets. The stones in that pocket are then dropped one by one into the next pockets counter-clockwise. Suppose you tapped the third pocket in your row. Then, one stone each will be dropped in the fourth pocket, fifth pocket, sixth pocket, then your mancala, and then the opponent’s pockets similarly until there are no more stones left.
If there are stones still left after dropping one stone each into all of the opponent’s pockets, then the stones are passed over onto your pockets again. But they skip the opponent’s mancala. That means you cannot ever deposit a stone into your opponent’s mancala and increase their count. So, you don’t ever have to worry about that.
Now, if you drop the last stone in your mancala, you get another free turn, or else your opponent gets to play their turn.
Now, what’s different in capture mode is that if you drop the last stone into an empty pocket on your side, then that stone and all the stones in the adjacent pocket (i.e., your opponent’s pocket) are deposited in your mancala. This is known as Capturing.
Capturing can increase the chances of your winning dramatically, especially if there are a rather large number of stones in your opponent’s pocket.
Your turn ends even if you capture some stones. The game ends only when one of the rows empties, and the player with the most stones in their mancala wins. When the game ends, all the stones still in the other person’s pockets go to their mancalas. So, if after that, they end up with more stones than you, they’ll be the winners.
Playing Mancala in Avalanche Mode
Avalanche Mode in iMessage Mancala has most of the same mechanisms as the Capture Mode, with a few key differences. The first one obviously being that there is no capturing of the stones.
Now, like the Capture Mode, the player taps one of their pockets to move the stones. The game then drops the stones one-by-one in the neighboring pockets in the counter-clockwise direction.
The key difference in Avalanche Mode is that the turn only ends when you deposit the stone into an empty pocket. For example, if you tap the third pocket in your row, it deposits the stones in the fourth, fifth, sixth pocket on your side, then in your mancala, and then in the opponent’s pockets, and so on. But if you drop the last stone into a pocket that has more stones, then the turn will continue. It doesn’t matter whether the non-empty pocket was yours or the opponent’s; the turn continues either way.
The longer your turn continues in the Avalanche mode, the more stones you’ll drop into your mancala. And the chances of you winning will be better.
The turn will keep going until you drop the last stone into the mancala or an empty pocket. When passing over from the opponent’s side to your side, the game skips your opponent’s mancala.
If you drop the last stone into your mancala, you’ll get a free turn. Or else, your opponent gets to play their turn.
The game ends when one of the two rows is empty. And the player with the most stones in their mancala wins. When the game ends, any stones still in the other player’s pockets go directly to their mancala. These stones contribute to determining the winner at the end.
In the iMessage Mancala, you don’t have to move the stones yourself. The game moves the stones for you. You only need to tap the pocket you want to move the stones from to begin the move.
Mancala is a game that involves strategizing in advance to win. Playing it with friends or family on iMessage won’t only make for a fun pastime; it’ll be a great exercise for your brain as well.