Board Game Review — The Mind

Continuing with our Top 5 Games of 2018, this week we are going to review The Mind! Want to dig deeper into our minds? Click below to read more!

Overview

Practice your slow breathing. Dig deep into your self. Do you remember the numbers on your cards? Good. Now think. Really think. Do you have the lowest card in your hand. Is it time to play your card? Are you sure? Dig deep, deep into your mind . . . and look below on how to play The Mind.

Gameplay

The Mind is about as simple as it comes in terms of gameplay.  It is a cooperative game where players must “meld minds” in order to discard cards in ascending order with no communication.  It is played over a number of rounds, based on the player count (from 8 for 4 players to 12 for 2, though I suppose you could vary the number of rounds for a more or less difficult game).  Each round, players are dealt an increasing number of cards from a deck that numbers from 1-100 — so in the first round players will have one card each, in the second round they’ll have two, and so on.  Then, once all players place a hand on the table to signify that they’re ready, the game begins. Again, without communicating at all with each other, players must determine the right moment to play their cards.  With a low numbered card like 3 or 5, it’ll be played fairly quickly after the start of the round, while with a very high numbered card you’re usually safe to wait a while before playing it. But with more cards as the rounds go on, and with numbers right in the middle of the range, you must figure out what the other players have and when it is safe to play your cards.  If in a round all the cards are played correctly in ascending order, the players move on to the next round. But if at any time a card is played and one or more other players has a card that goes before it, the players lose a life (players start with as many lives as there are players) and all skipped cards are discarded before resuming play. In addition, players start the game with one shuriken.  The shuriken can be used at any point with all players unanimously agreeing to use it (indicated by raising a hand). When the shuriken is used, all players discard the lowest card currently in their hand. This is useful to narrow down the possible range of numbers remaining in players’ hands. Finally, any player can stop the action at any time by saying, “Stop.” This is used to refocus concentration on the game, and can also be useful if a player has cards that follow each other sequentially and wants to prevent anyone from playing a card between them.  For most levels the players complete, they will earn a reward (either an extra life or a shuriken) that will help them to reach the final level. If they can complete the last level by discarding all of their cards without running out of lives, their minds truly have become one and they win The Mind!

Components and Artwork

Amber’s Review

There’s something about trying to figure out hidden information that really gets my brain going. When we first got into gaming, I found that I really love the game Hanabi because there was a way to logic out what is hiding in your hand in play them in order. When I first heard of The Mind, I was hoping to get that similar feeling, of being able to “figure it out” and keep winning time and time again. However, the simplicity of the game play doesn’t reflect how difficult this game can be. Depending on who you play with and how well you can read each other, this game can be a breeze or as difficult as defusing a bomb. We’ve played the game with a few different groups now and it’s interesting to see how in sync players are from varying groups! With no way of communicating, this game can really be just a guessing game, which can make it more difficult to play depending on your group.

Beside the ease of play, I think another reason this game became instantly popular for use was the ease to carry it around. Because it comes in a small box and only has cards as playing materials, it’s easy to throw in a bag or a pocket and keep it on hand for before meals, between games, and other small breaks. A small table footprint means it’s probably okay for small and cramped spaces as well, although we haven’t had a chance to try it out in an airplane or such spaces quite yet. It’s affordable, it’s small, it’s fun. It’s definitely worth having.

  • Pros
    • Fun way to see how in sync you are with your friends
    • Quick game play
    • Easy to take with you
  • Cons
    • Can be difficult to win depending on your group
    • May wear out its welcome if you play with the same people

Ethan’s Review

I first learned about The Mind from the buzz it generated on BoardGameGeek after the Origins game fair last year, well in advance of getting to try it out.  Even back then, it seemed like opinions on the game were strongly divided, with some saying that it was great and that they had played it dozens of times, while others said that it didn’t even qualify as a game, they didn’t see the appeal of it, and that it had already overstayed its welcome.  Not letting the negative opinions color my perception too much, I was still cautiously optimistic to try The Mind. After all, I love Hanabi and other cooperative games with limited communication. We didn’t get to try the game until much later, in September, when someone brought their copy to our gaming meetup.  It was a ton of fun! We played it three times in a row that first day, getting one round further each time (from 3 to 4 to 5, with four players). We’ve since gotten our own copy of the game and have played it several more times with different people, and it’s been an enjoyable experience each time. Its small size makes it very portable, so it can be carried around and played almost anywhere, and it’s super easy to learn and quick to play.  It’s pretty interesting to see how well we do with different groups. While we didn’t do so well the first times we’ve played with new groups, when we played it with Mama Meeple over Christmas, we were already so well in sync that we made it to level 9 on our first try! And while Amber and I haven’t played a two-player game yet, I feel like we’d do fairly well at that since we’re usually on the same wavelength. I can see how this game might not be for all groups though, or how some might not really get the point of it.  As those early adopters who dismissed it claimed, it may be more of an activity than a game, but who cares? It’s a totally fun activity, and that’s what’s important

  • Pros:
    • Super easy to teach and learn; you can be ready to play in 3 minutes.
    • It’s fun to see how well you can “sync up” with new groups of people who’ve never played before
  • Cons:
    • More of an activity than a game, which can be a con for the people who care about that
    • Could potentially lose replayability after repeated plays with the same group of people

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