Mancala: FS5 App Poster Image

Mancala: FS5

Gorgeous rendition of classic with multiplayer options.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids can learn strategy and practice counting by seeing the number of stones in a house then counting in sequence to see where their handful of stones will end. Depending on the situation with that last stone, kids decide which house to move. The strategy lies in thinking ahead and being on the lookout to capture or avoid capture. There are three levels of difficulty, three to six stones to start, and live or online opponents. Mancala: FS5 is one of many classic mancala games with lots of play options but not the best help features. 

Ease of play

The app is easy to play, particularly if you have played the actual game of mancala before. If not, the Help section explains both how the game works, and how the various modes of the app work. The interface is straightforward and makes sense.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable

The free version of the app is ad-supported, and the ads are generally not kid-friendly. Depending on the version of the app you have, you may be able to remove ads through an in-app purchase. Also, there are additional themes that can be used for the board and stones; some of these are free, but several require "credits" to purchase. While small amounts of credits can be earned by winning and playing Mancala: FS5, there are also options to buy large numbers of credits as in-app purchases, or earn "free" credits by signing up for various services from partners. Tapping on the FlipSide5 logo on the main menu brings up a few other games by the developer.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

Parents say

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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. 

Families can talk about...

  • Buy or make a real mancala board and hold a family game night.

  • Make sure your kids know the basic rules.

  • Research the origins of the game.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
Subjects:Hobbies: board games
Math: counting, estimation, numbers, sequences
Skills:Thinking & Reasoning: decision-making, prediction, strategy
Release date:October 12, 2011
Category:Board Games
Size:19.00 MB
Publisher:FlipSide5, Inc.
Minimum software requirements:iOS 3.0 or later; Android 2.0 and up

This review of Mancala: FS5 was written by

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written bypinktea4 March 12, 2012

Awesome game!

This is an awesome game because you can play with friends or play with a fake computer that's not a person, you can change themes but have to earn them, you can change level from beginner up to expert. Great pictures and doesn't freeze I most def recommend this game.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Teen, 13 years old Written bycplovesbroadway November 28, 2011

A Fun Mind Stimulating Classic!

This game is really fun! I got it when my brother & grandmother were playing mancala and I was waiting to play... But it is easy to use and cool! I was dissappointed other themes cost money, but obviously fun themes aren't what it's about. The only reason my rating is for 5+ is because of the strategy and basic math skills involved. But privacy wise you can't go wrong, because if you don't have Facebook or Game Center who cares? (like me) Give this FREE game a chance!