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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mancala: FS5 is a digital version of the classic (and ancient) board game mancala. The app is easy to use and works like the actual game. Users can share high scores via the Game Center social network, but participation is optional. In-game chatting with random opponents is limited to a drop-down menu of stock phrases, so this limits privacy and safety concerns when playing against strangers.
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What's it about?
Each turn, a player must choose a "house," then distribute its "stones" one-by-one in a counter-clockwise direction. When they pass their "store," they drop one stone in. The player with the most number of stones in their store at the end wins. The most important advantage is to end your turn by dropping the last stone into your store -- this gives you a free turn! If you drop your last stone into an empty house on your side, you capture all the stones in the opposite house on your opponent’s side. Kids have to be crafty to avoid capture.
Is it any good?
MANCALA: FS5 is an excellent digital version of basic mancala, a game where you are trying to capture more stones than your opponent. The app is versatile, allowing for single player against the computer or two-player games against an opponent using the same device, a nearby device (via wi-fi or Bluetooth), a random online opponent, or a friend through Game Center or Mobage. Graphics are sharp and crisp. The interface is clean and easy to use, without a lot of bells and whistles other than the optional themes.
The themes are basically "skins" that let you dress up the board and stones in a different look, but do not affect the gameplay. Some themes are free, but you'll have to pay for others using credits, which you can earn by playing games or through in-app purchases and signing up for offers. If you have a free version of the app, it's worth it to pay for the upgrade that removes ads, as they are generally not kid-friendly.
Talk to your kids about ...
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
- Subjects: Hobbies: board games
Math: counting, estimation, numbers, sequences
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: decision-making, prediction, strategy
- Price: Free-$2.99
- Release date: October 12, 2011
- Category: Board Games
- Size: 19.00 MB
- Publisher: FlipSide5, Inc.
- Version: 5.2.0
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 3.0 or later; Android 2.0 and up
For kids who love board games
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.