Fresh off playing Five Tribes at Gencon last week and loving it, I’ve had mancala on my mind again. I had previously worked a little on a microgame version here, but this time I was thinking of trying to make a card-only game with this mechanic in it. Today’s idea is more exploration than realisation, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it all the same!


Day 53: Mancala Card Game

The game is played with a deck of 110 cards, and the object is to make the most money at the end of the game. Money is represented by the cards on their back in front of you, Bohnanza style.

At the start of the game, each player has 3 cards dealt face up in front of them, and is given 3 cards face down as their starting money. On a player’s turn, they can do two things, in any order. Firstly, they can take an action based on the cards they have in front of themselves. Each card is separated into one of five coloured categories, and each colour is matched to a particular action. The number of times you get to take the action is related to the number of that particular colour you have in front of you at the time. So for example, the yellow cards might allow you to take 1 money for each yellow card in front of you. Or the red cards might let you swap your cards with another player a certain number of places away.

The other action you have to take is to take all the face up cards in front of one player, and then redistribute them one at a time to each player in a clockwise direction. You have to pay 1 money to the player from whom you take the cards (except if they are your own). When you play the last card, you can choose to remove all the cards with a matching attribute (for example, number or colour) and then gain money based on the number of cards removed. For example, you could gain 1 money less than the number of cards you take.

At the end of your turn, you draw one card from the deck and place it face up in front of yourself. The game keeps going until the deck runs out, and the player with the most money is the winner!


As with a lot of my ideas, I would really have to play this to see what it is like. But I definitely like only having one component (cards), and seeing how far you can go with that idea. There could also be a touch of set collecting, in that you could have a ‘score pile’ that is your face up collection in front of you (possibly) that you gain from the cards you claim. Maybe this could work?