The Mind Review

photo of head bust print artwork

Hey folks! I’m back again with another game. This one is a small card game and was nominated for the 2018 Spiel des Jahres. It’s a game about becoming one mind and melding with the other players. It’s a cooperative card game by Wolfgang Warsch. He’s the guy that also designed Quacks of Quedlinburg. Players are trying to play all the cards without communicating with each other. It’s a game for 2-4 players and plays in about 20 minutes. You can look at other players and only communicate with your mind. So, I thought I would complete this review in the same way. So here we go, start melding with my mind and unlock this review. 3, 2, 1, go!

 

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So, what do I think about this game? Wait, you didn’t get the review? We haven’t melded minds and you weren’t able to instantaneously get the components, rules, and my opinions? Well, I guess we’ll just have to start back at the top, and maybe by the time we’re done you’ll get it.

The game comes with 100 number cards, 12 level cards, 5 life cards, 3 throwing star cards. So in all, 125 cards.

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Set up varies depending on the number of players. Here’s a real quick down of what to have ready for each player count.

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  • Two Players – Levels 1-12, 2 lives, 1 throwing star.
  • Three Players – Levels 1-10, 3 lives, 1 throwing star.
  • Four Players – Levels 1-8, 4 lives, 1 throwing star.

Here’s how to play. Take and shuffle the number cards. Deal cards face down to each player depending on what level you’re on. Level 1, each player gets 1 card. Level 2, each player gets 2 cards. Level 3, each player gets 3 cards, and so on. Now for the interesting part. There’s no turn order, instead all players will place one of their palms on the table signifying they are ready for the level. There is no talking, no gesturing, no grunts. Once every player is ready, you need to play the lowest card collectively and go in ascending order. The player who thinks they have the lowest number plays it to the play pile. Then play continues to whoever thinks they have the next highest, and so on until all the cards are played from all the players hands. Then congratulations! You’ve beat the current level. Now, shuffle all the cards back into the deck, collect any rewards for completing the level, flip to the next level card, deal out the appropriate number of cards, and tackle the next level.

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What happens if someone plays a card that isn’t the next highest? Well, fret not. You lose a life, and every play discards cards lower than the last card played. So if the play pile goes from 12 to 45, but you have 26 in your hand, game is halted immediately. Say you’ve got a lower card, discard your 26 and lose a life card. Once everyone is ready again, do the palm on the table to signify that you’re reconnected and minds are melded, then continue the level. However, once you’ve lost your last life it’s game over.

In the example above, the players went from 11 to 33.  27 and 33 were lower cards. The game was halted, the lower cards discarded, and a life was lost. Once all players were ready, the game went on.

What about the throwing stars? What do they have to do with melding minds? I’m not too sure how they do, but they are handy. Throwing stars allow each player to discard their lowest card in their hand. To use it in game, simply raise your hand. This shows you want to use the throwing star, but you can’t just go and use it without the permission of your team. Once you get the head nods of all your teammates you can throw the throwing star. Maybe you throw it with your mind. . .

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The game goes on until you either lose your last life or have completed all the levels.

So, now that you’ve actually read the components and how the game plays, what do I think? Well, we had a tam building exercise at my work, and I was up to bring something to help with team building. Being into board games, I knew I wanted to bring a game. The Mind fit perfectly into building trust and perseverance all in a cooperative card game. So, if it was good enough for work, you know it’s a game I like. The game play! It’s so simple, but so difficult! Adding in no player order and then no communication to top that off really makes this a difficult task. It’s an achievement to complete all the levels. This really builds on the trust of the other players and then the perseverance of the team. Even if your team horribly fails at level 2, it’s a game that you’ll want to play again and again until you beat your last game. It also feels like a true team accomplishment when you beat a level. And the more you play it with your game group, the more and more you pick up on little nuances that make it feel like you’ve all melded to one hive mind. The moments that pass help clue on what numbers have gone. Okay, no one has played a card after the 10 card, and it’s been 10 seconds. That should mean we’re into the 20s now. It’s those unspoken rules that everyone seems to pick up on. I can see why this was recommended for the Spiel des Jahres. To be honest, before actually playing the game I almost wrote it off. I played The Game, and it seemed just like that one but with a couple extra rules. I was way wrong. It’s nothing like that game, and doesn’t give you the same feeling when playing it. It’s such a simple concept, but to hard to execute it correctly. The components are good quality, It’s an easy game to teach and play a complete game in 20 minutes. I don’t know if anyone has won the game their first go around. My grandma was able to play this, and actually showed interest in playing it again. I highly recommend this as a filler game and one that can be played quickly. It’s a nice one to break out to pass some time when you don’t have enough time to play a longer game. Or one that you can break out as you’re still waiting on people to show up and play games. And after Quacks, Wolfgang Warsch is quickly becoming a favorite designer of mine. I know I can’t wait until his next game hits the United States.  Die Tavern I’m Tiefen Thal. It’s a German title where the game is dice rolling and deck building game. You’re building your tavern up and serving patrons trying to make the most money at the end of the game, if I got that correctly. Still hasn’t came over to the Unites States yet.

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