Monday, February 14, 2022

Mancala needs conflict

 Between finding the PnP solitaire version and the port on Board Game Arena, I’ve had a chance to check out Fruit Picking. I’ve come to really like solitaire games  and I’ve been a fan of the Mancala family of games even before I got into designer games. And I’ve played designer games that were inspired by Mancala.

(Sadly, I haven’t played Five Tribes or Trajan, though. The loss is clearly mine)

So I should be the target demographic for Fruit Picking by a couple different criteria. However, it has consistently fallen flat for me.

Here’s the thing. Everyone has their own little Mancala board. You’re doing your own thing and the only interaction is that you are all competing for the same available cards. It is Mancala as a solitaire puzzle.

Mancala is an ancient family of games that represents a completely different paradigm than Go or Chess. And Mancala becomes a static math puzzle without an opponent fighting you and messing up all your plans.

I actually was surprised at how nonplussed I was by Fruit Picking. I mean, I normally love multi-solitaire games like Take It Easy. But I realize that the games I like have ongoing random factors that you have to cope with. After the initial set up, the cards are the only random factor. Your board is set.

For me, Fruit Picking took all the life and vibrancy out of Mancala but didn’t replace it with anything. 

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