The Mind has been on my list for a very long time before I finally decided to buy it. I’ve seen lots of posts on the social media featuring it. People kept saying that it is an innovative game. The hype around it convinced me to give it a chance. After all, it was nominated for Spiel des Jahres back in 2018, so it has to be special, right?
The Mind is a cooperative game about mind syncing between the players that has a big name behind it. It was designed by Wolfgang Warsch, known for titles such as Quacks of Quedlinburg, Taverns of Tiefenthal and Ganz Schon Clever. I enjoyed playing most of these titles so I dived into The Mind having high expectations from it.
How to play The Mind
What you need to know is that The Mind plays over the course of 12 levels. The players begin with 3 lives and a shuriken which they can use to discard cards from their hands simultaneously. When starting a level, you deal a number of cards equal to that level to each player. So for level 1, each player will get one cards, for level 2 they will each get 2 cards and so on. You get the idea. Sometimes, when advancing to a new level, the team gains another life or a shuriken.
The players must put down all of the cards face up in increasing order, but the players do not take turns in any particular order. Whoever thinks they have the next card simply puts it down. However, there is a trick to it. You can not communicate during this game. Players have to keep their mouths shut and get their minds synced when playing. The rules suggest that the players should “sync” before gameplay by putting their hands on the table and agreeing to start. It is important that everybody knows exactly when gameplay starts, since timing is everything in this game.
In case someone makes a mistake (a player has a card in their hand that has a lower value than the one just played), the gameplay stops. All cards that have a lower value are discarded and the teams loses a life. Players sync once again and they can continue their game. The game ends as soon as the players beat level 12 or lose all their lives.
If at some point none of you feels like playing a card, you can vote to use a shuriken. If all players agree, everyone discards their lowest card and then the game continues. We found this to be especially helpful during high levels, because it gives you important information about what the others have in their hand.
My thoughts on The Mind
First time I played The Mind was at a birthday game night and it was the first time playing it for each of us. We played it at 3 players and we were baffled by the fact that we are not allowed to speak. It felt strange at first, because we kept having the impulse to say something. We lost pretty soon, as we only reached level 3 first. We played it a couple more times after that and we managed to reach level 6. Game after game, we started to develop some kind of addiction to it. Reaching a new higher level feels very satisfying. We ended up enjoying it, as the same group asked to play it again during the next game night.
However, I also tried the game at 2 players and it felt totally different. I played it with my girlfriend and we reached level 8 on our first try and had many shurikens left. Not sure if it’s because I already had some experience playing this game, but I’d like to believe it was because we have a special connection. We managed to synchronize ourselves much easier and the mistakes could have been easily avoided by using the shurikens. It felt much more satisfying from the beginning, especially for me, because I managed to beat my previous record of level 6 on our first try.
It feels easier to get to a higher level when playing at 2 players. I think it’s probably because and it allows for better coordination with the other player. If you only have high cards in your hand, it’s all just a waiting game before the other player realizes and places down his card.
One thing that I really liked about this game is how everything can change when playing with different groups. This reminded me of Hanabi. Since everything revolves around the players getting in sync, you always have to adapt to the people you are playing it with.
The Mind and Titanic
After playing it a few more times the silence got boring and us constantly losing around levels 7 and 8 wasn’t helping it much. We decided to change it a bit and instead of staying silent and looking at each other, we started using the plot of Titanic (the movie) to describe our lowest value card. It became very fun to play and we had good laughs, especially when some of us were wrong about the chronological order of certain events.
It actually helped us a lot, because we felt more relaxed. We ended up playing like this for 4 hours in a row and we actually managed to beat level 12 this way! Yeah, I know, we cheated, we did not play by the rules, but we had more fun playing like this. If you feel like the game gets boring after a while, you could try doing the same with a movie all of you know well.
The Mind is a unique experience, it plays fast, the rules are easy to teach and it maintains a tense atmosphere during the entire game. The mind syncing aspect is innovative and the levels make it addictive. Along with Sushi Go!, it is one of the filler games we often play during our game nights.
Designer: Wolfgang Warsch
Publishers: Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag, Pandasaurus Games
Time: 20 min
Times played: 12
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