Strategic Depth: Beginner
Setup Time: <5 mins.
Play Time: 15 - 25 mins.
Mechanics: Hand Management, Co-operative Play, Deduction
Production Info: 2018 | Pandasaurus Games | Wolfgang Warsch
The Mind is completely an abstract game, so there really isn't any theme or storyline to talk about. The name of the game describes the only thing you're allowed to use during gameplay... your brain! This means no speaking, hand gestures, noises, or winks. You must communicate through your brain waves....pretty simple, huh?
Game play in The Mind consists of rounds where each player is randomly dealt cards numbered 1-100. Players must make educated guesses based on their hand and correctly lay down all the cards sequentially from lowest to highest. If the team is able to successfully do this, the round (aka level) is won and you receive a special reward card (giving you special abilities or extra lives). You also get to proceed to a more difficult level (which essentially means each player gets dealt more cards in their hand). If you are unable to lay your numbers in ascending order you will lose lives and if enough lives are lost.....you guessed, game over!
I'm going to apologize in advanced for referencing the game Hanabi throughout this review. Both The Mind and Hanabi are conceptually similar as they are co-op games with very harsh restrictions on communication between players. In many ways I feel The Mind addresses a couple of Hanabi's weaknesses that we pointed out in our Hanabi Review.
- The Good -
Unique Game Mechanic
There is no other game currently available that plays like The Mind. The gameplay is extremely simple but the "no communication" mechanic makes The Mind a one-of-a-kind experience. Explaining how the game works to new players instantly piques their interest and you'll never feel like your dragging friends to the table to play this game.
I love that The Mind incorporates the use of progressing through levels. This is a concept that I felt was missing from the game Hanabi where you essentially played one round and tried to get the highest score you could. Something about not progressing and actually officially beating a game in a co-op game just feels wrong! The Mind does a great job of not only including increasingly difficult rounds but also rewards you for completing a level with a reward card which can be used in future levels.
It's Nearly Impossible To Cheat
Many team or co-op board games with some sort of restriction on communication always seem to require personal restraint in order not to cheat with body language or facial expressions. This is something that is very evident in the game Hanabi where players almost always naturally wince when someone is about to pick the wrong card.
Facial expressions and body language are pretty much a non-factor in The Mind since no one knows the values of anyone's cards and no speaking is forbidden during gameplay. This is fanstastic for rule purists like me who can't stand beating a game if there was even an ounce of cheating involved.
- The Bad -
Probably the most upsetting part of this game is the seemingly afterthought of incorporating a cohesive theme. It is almost as if the game developer was so excited to get this game mechanic published that he decided to just look around his kid's room and base the artwork after some old stuffed hippy/ninja rabbit laying on the floor.
Sometimes You're Just Unlucky
There will be times during gameplay (especially in the later rounds) where your team is going to have to rely on luck to successfully move on. If you are someone who likes to solely rely on your logic & wits to do well in this game, you are going to be severely disappointed when you inevitably lose because your team played card #66 before card #65. However, when Lady Luck does favor you, the feeling everyone will get will be indescribable....until, of course, you quickly get unlucky again!
- Overall -
Overall, The Mind provides a very intriguing game mechanic that has never been used before (that I know of) and can provide a memorable experience during a game night. The Mind is going to be a game that will run out of juice after a bunch of players and can get very frustrating at times when a level provides unlucky hands that are nearly impossible to win with.
If The Mind was sold for $25 or greater I would only recommend buying this if you were a big fan of the game Hanabi. But I will go as far as saying The Mind is a must-have for your game collection solely due to that fact of it's current $15 price tag. At that cost, The Mind is going to provide you with tons of fun gameplay even if you don't end up appreciating all the silence at the game table.
The following summaries are meant to be a high-level reminder of how to play this game. If this is your first time playing, we highly recommend that you read your board game's included rule book which will go into much more depth. You can download a digital PDF copy of the official rules by clicking the button below. There are also a few video tutorials near the bottom of this section to help all you visual learners out as well.
- Setup Overview -
- Shuffle the 100 number cards and deal 1 card out to each player. The remaining cards are stacked together and placed face down
- Provide the team with the number of lives and throwing stars shown in the below listing:
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
- Use the information above and collect the number of level cards you will be playing in your game
- Game Play/Player Turns -
No Visible Communication
Players may not use any form of communication during gameplay except for using the mind (shoot those brain waves out of your head!
Lay Your Cards In Ascending Order
At the beginning of a new level, players must work together using their "Minds" to lay down their numbered cards in ascending order (lowest to highest).
Messing Up the Sequential Order
If a card is placed in the wrong order, the game is halted immediately by whichever player(s) holds a lower valued card. The lower, unplayed cards must be discarded and the team loses a life. Play then continues.
Completing A Level & Earning A Reward
I level is completed once the team has successfully laid all their cards down in ascending order without losing all their lives. After completing the level, your team will earn either a Throwing Star Card or an Extra Life Card (indicated by the icon on the Level Card). You may then proceed to the next level and deal out one more additional card to each player than what was played with in the previous level.
Using Throwing Stars
At any point during a level a player can suggest that a throwing star be played - this is
signalled by raising a hand. If all the players agree, the throwing star is deployed and
each player discards the lowest card in their hand by placing it face up to one side. One
throwing star is then set aside. Next, all the players refocus and the game continues.
- End Of Game / Winning -
If the team succeeds in completing all the levels in the stack, a collective victory has
been achieved! If the team loses its last life, the endeavour has unfortunately
- Great Instructional Videos -
Here are a few helpful instructional videos you or your group can watch to learn how to play this game visually.
If a wrong card is played and two cards needed to be played before it, do you lose a life for each card that was not played?
You can only lose 1 life per error. It does not matter how many cards were discarded to correct the error.
Do the cards get shuffled back into the deck after each level or are they kept to the side?
All 100 cards are always shuffled together between levels.
Can you just play your highest card to sacrifice a life and move on to the next level?
You may only lay down the lowest card currently in your hand.
BUY THIS GAME
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Highest Price: $14.99 (July 25, 2018)
Lowest Price: $14.99 (July 25, 2018)
Average Price: $14.99
*According to CamelCamelCamel.com (06/07/2018)
Expanding The Game
There are no expansions currently for The Mind.
If you like how this board game plays, you'll definitely want to check out these great games which play similar.