How to play Mancala on iMessage – Game Pigeon Guide

When it comes to iMessage games, Mancala is definitely one of the more confusing ones. Though it seems extremely simple, it’s actually a little difficult to get to grips with.

GamePigeon has many classic games to choose from, ranging from word games to athletic games.

Such games include Archery, Anagrams, Cup Pong and this two-player game Mancala. Here’s how you can play the game on your iPhone.

How to play Mancala on iMessage – Game Pigeon Guide

Mancala is one of the games available in GamePigeon, which an extension accessible from iMessage.

GamePigeon can be installed from the iOS App Store, and is usually only playable on iPhones. This is because iMessage is required in order for the app to work.

Mancala is a two-player game, which revolves around the concept of capturing stones.

The more stones you can get back to your store (called a Mancala), the better – this is how you win Mancala. Each player has six pockets in front of them, and you only play from the six pockets in front of you.

Eventually, you will use the opponent’s pockets whilst moving counter clockwise around the pockets.

Anyway, we’ll first go through how you can access Mancala – then, we’ll look at how you play the game in greater detail.

How to find Mancala

Mancala can be accessed from the GamePigeon extension. You must first download GamePigeon onto your iPhone, and then you can play Mancala easily on your device.

How to download GamePigeon

Open up the iOS App Store, and then search ‘Gamepigeon’ – you should be able to see the Game Pigeon app pop up.


Press the ‘install’ option to download the GamePigeon app.

After installing GamePigeon, open up iMessage. At the bottom of your display, there should be a set of icons (or extensions) available.

GamePigeon should be among them. The icon appears as a game controller. Press the icon to open GamePigeon.

If you’re struggling to find the GamePigeon icon, press and hold one of the icons. This will enlarge the set of icons, and allow you to swipe through the collection. Do so until you find GamePigeon.


After opening GamePigeon, swipe up on the GamePigeon window. This is the area with the ‘games’ heading. Swiping up will expand the game collection. Mancala should be available in the fourth row.


Press on Mancala. This will make the game appear as a message. There are options for game modes near the bottom of the screen. There’s a capture option, and an avalanche option. The game is on capture mode by default.


To choose avalanche mode, press the avalanche option. The game’s background colour should change.


After choosing a game mode, send the message. Press the play icon to open the game.


How to play Mancala

Mancala can be played in two different game modes – capture mode and avalanche mode. The rules differ slightly between the two modes, but mostly share the same gameplay.

The game board is the same for both game modes. It’s a wooden board with a large pocket at the top, and a large pocket at the bottom. These pockets are called mancalas. Each player gets one mancala.

The board also has 12 small pockets in between the two mancalas, and each small pocket contains four stones initially.

The stones appear in three different colours: blue, black, and white. The 12 small pockets are arranged in two columns of 6. Each player gets one column of small pockets.

Each pocket has a small number next to it, which indicates the number of stones it contains. If you get more stones in your pockets, you’ll win Mancala.

Play Mancala – Capture Mode

Each player takes turns pressing one of the pockets they own. The pocket should contain stones.

After pressing the pocket, the stones contained there will drop into adjacent pockets counter-clockwise; one at a time.

For example, if you press the fourth pocket, one stone will drop into the fifth pocket, one in the sixth, one in your Mancala, one in your opponent’s first pocket, and so on until the original pocket has no stones left.

Your opponent’s Mancala will always skipped in this sequence, so you can’t ever deposit stones into the other player’s Mancala.

If the stone-dropping sequence ends with depositing a stone into your mancala, you get an additional turn. Otherwise, the turn ends.

Now, this is where the rules differ slightly from avalanche mode. In capture mode, if you deposit the last stone into an empty pocket belonging to you; that stone and stones in the adjacent pockets will be placed into your mancala.

These adjacent pockets can include your opponent’s pockets. This is called capturing.

When one column of pockets is all empty of stones, the game ends. When the game ends, any stones still left in the pockets will go to the respective player’s mancala.

The player with the largest amount of stones in their mancala wins the game.

Play Mancala – Avalanche Mode

In avalanche mode, most of the rules are the same as in capture mode. The biggest difference is that there is no capturing in avalanche mode.

Such as in capture mode, each player takes turns pressing on of their pockets. Doing so will move the pocket’s stones into adjacent pockets, in a counter-clockwise motion. The stones will be moved one at a time.

For example, if you press the second pocket, one stone will be placed in the third pocket, one in the fourth, and so on until there are no stones left in the original pocket.

Now comes the mechanic that only appears in avalanche mode. A turn will only end when you place a stone into an empty pocket, or your mancala.

The empty pocket can belong to either you or the opponent. This means that the turn can continue on even after the last stone is dropped.

If the last stone is deposited in your mancala, you gain a turn.

The game is finished when one of the pocket columns is empty of stones. When the game ends, any stones that remain in the pockets are placed into the respective player’s mancala.

The player with the most stones in their mancala wins the game.


In conclusion, Mancala can be played in two different game modes. There’s the capture mode, and the avalanche mode. Both modes mostly share the same rules, but each mode has a mechanic unique to them.

The overall aim of the game is to get as many stones into your mancala as you can. The winner is the player with the most stones in their mancala.

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I love reading, writing, drawing, and other creative pursuits. I wish to travel more and do extreme activities, such as bungee-jumping and skydiving. I'm a casual gamer with an affinity for narrative-driven games and unique art styles. I like watching a variety of different media, but I particularly enjoy animations and musicals. My favourite genre, for both books and visual media, is psychological-thriller.

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