mancala — simple board game for human player and computer


mancala level-top level-bottom number-of-stones
xmancala [-stones N]


This manual page documents briefly the mancala and xmancala commands. This manual page was written for the Debian GNU/Linux distribution because the original program does not have a manual page.

mancala runs the game in the console, while xmancala is a fancy X-interface. mancala-text is a shell script to run mancala in a console from the Debian menu system.

When run as xmancala the program has no options, and should be self-explanatory. Built in buttons and sliders control the difficulty level (default 4), and bring up the rules of the game.

The console version, mancala, has no access to the rules, and the difficulty level can only be set on the command line (see below). When it is your turn to play, you enter the letter of the cell that you want to move the stones from, A to F (case insensitive). The rules are contained in the file /usr/share/doc/mancala/RULES.


When run as mancala, the program normally takes two arguments, level-top and level-bottom, one of which should be 0 to represent the human player (you), and the other should be in the range 1 to 9, to represent the skill level of the computer player. The first argument represents the top player, who starts.

Alternatively, you can give a single argument or two non-zero arguments, to watch the computer playing itself, or two zero arguments, to play against another human player on the same console.

For the console version, you can add a third argument to specify the number of stones per hole. For xmancala you can specify the number of stones per hole using the -stones N argument.

On Debian systems, the shell script mancala-text is provided to facilitate running mancala in a console, from the Debian menu system. This script will run mancala with a difficulty level of 4, and will pause when the game is finished, to enable the player to view the final screen.


This manual page was written by Andrew Gray <> for the Debian GNU/Linux system (but may be used by others). The program was written by Sverre H. Huseby and Glenn T. Lines.