FTW Staff Picks - The Mind
For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.
Designer: Wolfgang Warsch
Player Size: 2 to 4 Players
Game Length: 15 minutes
For fans of: The Game, Hanabi, Magic Maze
A large part of playing any tabletop game involves instinct and gut-feeling. Going against it can often leave you with regret, and going with it can often leave you vulnerable. At the end of the day, you drive your actions and you are responsible for your decision-making. But bringing that to a cooperative setting, where you are unable to communicate effectively is a challenge unlike any other. There are already quite a few games that play with these deduction and instinct mechanics and The Mind is just the most recent among these Spiel des Jahres nominees and winners.
In The Mind, players work together to pass through a set amount of levels by playing their collective cards in ascending order, without the ability to communicate in any way. Each level, players are dealt cards equal to the level number. Once all cards have been dealt, players may place their cards in a collaborative pile at any time. If someone plays a card higher than one or more of the cards in any other player's hand, the lower cards are discarded face-up and the team loses a life. The team is granted lives equal to the number of players. If the team is able clear all the levels before running out of lives they win the game!
If all this sounds familiar, that's because it is. The Game, another Spiel nominee is very similar both in play and in style. In fact, you can play a bootleg of The Mind using the cards from The Game. Here though, there are no rows - just one big pile. It's more challenging in that sense, but the game offers a bit of a lifeline with its Shurikens. A Shuriken allows each player to discard their lowest card, revealing information to all the players while getting rid of cards. All in all, they are only slightly varied experiences, but differ enough to prefer one over the other. For us, we prefer The Mind.
The Game probably wins the award for the most generic title in tabletop history. The Mind is not necessarily a much more creative name, but it's very representative of how the game itself is played. Because there's very little mechanics to the game, you are essentially breaking it down to reading minds. And this allows for each game to play differently as you play with new players. When your group starts to click, it feels great - almost like you're unlocking a real-life super power. That feeling alone makes The Mind worthwhile.