Horncala is a meta-game for two-row mancala games, which was invented by the Dutch game inventor Fred Horn in 2009. It changes them into games with hidden information.

Horn thought that mancala games games tend to be a little dull, so he tried to spice them up by introducing an element of luck.


Cups are numbered and can be arranged for each game in a new pattern.

  • If a row has six pits, a player gets two pits of each of the following numbers: 1, 2 and 3.
  • If a row has eight pits, a player gets two pits of each of the following numbers: 1, 2, 3, and 4.
  • If a row has seven pits, each player removes one of his eight cups, not knowing which number it has.
  • If a row has nine pits, both players have one more cup, which is "neutral".

For the 7, each Player removes, unseen, one of his Cups and play continues as usual.

There are two ways to start a game:

  • Players shuffle their cups with the numbers hidden and then form with them their rows.
  • Players decide by themselves, but hidden from their opponents, in which order they put their cups in their rows.

After that the holes are filled with a predetermined number of stones.

Fred Horn suggested the following fillings:

(A) Six Pits
4 seeds in number one pits; 8 in number two pits; 12 in number three pits (a total of 96 seeds)

(B) Seven Pits
Like eight pits (see below), but without the pit that had been removed.

(C) Eight Pits
3 seeds in number one pits; 5 in number two pits; 7 in number three pits; 9 in number four pits (a total of 96 seeds)


3 seeds in number one pits; 6 in number two pits; 9 in number three pits; 12 in number four pits (a total of 120 seeds)

(D) Nine Pits
Like eight pits plus the neutral pit, which remains empty.


Other fillings might be more appropriate, because the suggested numbers are very large and thus do not work well for many games.

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