The Mind (Saturday Review)

Release Date: 2018 Players: 2-4
Designer: Wolfgang Warsch Length:  10-30 minutes
Artist: Oliver Freudenreich Age: 8+
Publisher: Coiledspring Games Complexity: 1.0 / 5

If you are looking for an easy-to-teach, easy-to-carry, quick, fun, co-operative card game, then The Mind by Coiledspring Games is the right game for you. However, let’s start at the beginning. The game is really simply: there is a deck of cards numbered 1 to 100, every players is dealt a certain number randomly from the deck, there is no turn order and everyone plays when they feel the time is right, without co-ordinating with each other, and as long as all cards are played in ascending order everyone wins. That’s pretty much all there is to it. Sounds easy enough – but it’s actually really hard – and that’s what makes this game so interesting in my view, as it creates a new gameplay mechanism that I have not come across before.

So let’s assume we have a three player game of The Mind in front of us. We start at level 1 where everyone is dealt one card from the shuffled deck of cards numbered 1 to 100. We all put our hands together in the middle to indicate we’re ready – and then… well… everyone waits. Nobody is really sure if their card is high or low or somewhere in the middle. Of course, if you have a 1 card, then you can just play it immediately. Nobody will be lower than that. Similarly, if you have a 100 card, you can just wait, because yours is the highest card and will have to be played last.

Yet the chances are that you have a 17, or a 31, or maybe a 64. Others might have a 25, or a 44, or maybe a 86. So you have to wait and see if anyone is keener to play their card than you are – and hope that if they do play their card, it is indeed lower than yours. However, don’t worry too much. At the beginning you start with three lives, so if anyone plays their card out of order, you just lose a life, everyone discards any cards lower than the one just played and you can carry on. You only lose the game completely when you lose your last life.

So let’s assume everyone played the cards in order – 17, then 25, then 86. That feels great and you want to do it again. So on to level 2 you go – and now everyone is dealt two cards from the shuffled deck. You might be lucky and have two cards close together, let’s say 5 and 7. So after everyone has put their hand in the middle, you feel brave and play your 5, quickly followed by your 7. You just got rid of your hand and now the pressure is on everyone else to get their cards played correctly.

However, unfortunately another player had a 6. The chances are so low of this happening, that you never expected. So you lose another life and you’re down to two. The other player discards their 6 and are left with one card. They wait, because they have an 86 in their hand, and the third player plays their cards: a 34, then they wait for a bit, then they play a 85. Wow, how amazing. The 86 is played and you survive level 2.

So it goes on, with every new level your hand grows by another card. The pressure rises all the time, but so does the feeling of achievement when all cards are played correctly. There are moments when you look into another players eyes trying to gauge if their next card is higher or lower than yours. Or two players both start to pull their next lowest card out of their and, then both stop, because they have to decide whose card is lower.

As I say, the game is really simple, but it creates so much interest. You really feel the pressure of getting into a rhythm with your team, and you feel really amazed when players play cards correctly that are close together: a 76, followed by a 78 followed by a 81. The more you play, the more you get into it all. It all becomes very addictive.

The Mind is really worth looking at. It is a small game at a small price that packs a huge punch – and gets your mind frazzled.

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