skip-bo_576518759_01.jpgMy grandmother first introduced me to the Skip-Bo card game 25+ years ago, and growing up, my twin brother (and AppAddict founder) Brett, and I would play every week with her.

Now Onestepmobile brings this classic numerical Mattel card game to your iOS devices.

If you’ve never played Skip-Bo before, here’s a quick overview:

The goal is to be the first player to deplete his stock pile of cards by building piles of cards in numerical order.

Each player starts with a hand of 5 cards plus a face-down Stock pile of cards–with the top card turned up. Each player also has 4 Discard piles, which are for his own use only. These are built up as the game progresses. Cards played to a Discard pile do not need to be in any particular order. However, these piles are last in, first out–cards can only be played from the tops of the piles.

There are four common Building piles in the center of the game. Each of these must be started with either a 1 or a wild Skip-Bo card (which is equivalent to any number). Cards are played in numerical order until the Building pile is built up to the number 12, and then it is reset.

skip-bo_576518759_02.jpgOn your turn, you play cards from your hand, Stock pile and Discard piles to the four common Building piles. If you run out of cards in your hand, you draw five more and continue. At the end of your turn you must discard one card to one of your Discard piles.

Skip-Bo features two distinct modes of play, Single Game and Tournament. In Single Game Mode, the winner is the first to deplete his Stock pile–it doesn’t matter what’s left in your hand or in your Discard piles. On the other hand, in Tournament Mode, the winner is the first to 500 points–or highest score after 4 games–whichever comes first. You receive 25 points for winning the game, plus another 5 points for each card left in your opponents’ Stock piles.

While the game itself is quite simple, there is a lot of strategy involved. You can only see the card at the top of your opponents’ Stock piles, and what is in their Discard piles. So you need to figure out which cards you should or shouldn’t play to not only help yourself, but also to prevent your opponent(s) from being able to pare down their own Stock piles. And since you can only play cards from the tops of your discard piles, you need to be sure you don’t bury a card you will need later.

I have primarily been playing 2-player Solo vs. AI matches against the computer. For these, you can select between Normal & Hard difficulty, but I have found that even on Normal level there is a good balance of gameplay.

Skip-Bo also supports multi-player games of 2-4 players, allowing for inviting specific friends, or via a Quick Match. While games involving friends have no time limit and support nudging your friends to take their turn, the latter Quick Match must be played in one session, to ensure speedy gameplay. However, in actuality it doesn’t always work out this way. If you have an unresponsive player in your “Quick Match” it will last indefinitely until the player whose turn it is finally makes his or her move. Without any way to remind players to take their turns, odds are you may end up having to drop out of these matches, without ever completing the game.

skip-bo_576518759_03.jpgThere is one rule that appears to be different (or at least up for interpretation) in this iOS game versus when Brett and I would play Skip-Bo with our Nana. When we played the card game, a wild Skip-Bo card used to start a building pile was always equal to 1. However, in this app, you get to choose whatever number you want it to be. While I’m OK with this rule, Brett seems to really hate it (he thinks it’s cheating) and would prefer it to be an optional setting.

In Conclusion

I am really enjoying this app–it’s great to be able to play a quick game any time, and if Nana were still here we’d be battling it out online every night. I am giving this a 4 star Great rating. The game is snappy (in both multiplayer and single player modes), and all the basic gameplay is there. It also has Game Center achievements and a leaderboard. However, I wish it had a way to see game history, an easy way to kick off a rematch, and maybe some kind of in-game chat.