Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Spring 2012 Games
Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: MindWare
Price: $19.95

This fun strategy game adopts pieces and moves that make it feel like a more complex version of the African stone game Mancala. In the starting and easiest configuration, players lay down 10 tiles in a designated pattern, each getting a home tile on opposite sides. Each player gets four "jewels" that he needs to move across the tile configuration to the opponent's home tile. Each turn consists of three moves-either one move for each of the three different jewels, one jewel three times, or any combination.

But there are obstacles. Not only do the tiles have different layouts of "rock walls" on them which the jewels can't cross, but players can use any or all of their moves to turn any tile a quarter turn, which can block the opponent's next moves with a rock wall.

Using more tiles in different configurations make for greater difficulty. Like Mancala, despite being seemingly simple, this is an addictive game that tests strategic thinking. And the bonus: A typical game last only about 20 minutes.

Don Oldenburg   ©2012 Parents' Choice
A former writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is a freelance writer, editorial consultant and coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The father of three sons, he lives with them and wife, Ann, a writer at USA Today, in McLean, VA.

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