Board Game Night: The Mind

Many games have worked hard to revolutionize the board game industry over the years. Ask just about anybody what Monopoly is and they’ll be able to describe it you to in great detail. For board game aficionados, ask them about Settlers of Catan and they’ll respond with pure joy at the prospect of the game. But every so often, a game comes along that steps outside the normal boundaries of a game and asks a higher question of philosophical approach. The Mind just happens to be one of those games.

The Mind is for 2-4 players, takes approximately 20 minutes to play, and is for ages 8 and older.

Set up for The Mind is as follows: First, place the appropriate number of lives and throwing stars in the middle of the table based on how many players there are. For 2 players, 2 lives and 1 throwing star. For 3 players, 3 lives and 1 throwing star. For 4 players, 4 lives and 1 throwing star. Then shuffle the 100 cards and deal one card to each player. The remaining cards are placed front down where all of the players can reach it. There is also a number of levels that have to be placed, face up, in ascending order in the middle of the table. For 2 players, levels 1-12. For 3 players, levels 1-10. For 4 players, levels 1-8.

The object of the game is to work together as a team to play the cards in ascending order in the center of the table. There is only one small issue with this goal: you can’t talk. Nobody at the table may say anything at all. There is no turn order and there is no communication of any kind allowed between the players.

Every round starts the same way with the Concentration Phase. Every player focuses on their cards and concentrates. When each player is ready to begin the round, he or she places his or her hand, palm down, on the table in front of them. Once all players have done so, it is time to begin the round.

Note: this collective concentration on the level is enormously important for successful survival! As the game proceeds, players are permitted to refocus their concentration at any time. Simply say “stop” to interrupt playing – everyone places a hand on the table – refocus – remove hands – and the game goes on!

The Mind Rulebook

The players must play their cards in the middle of the table in ascending order.

Let’s use this example:

Players A, B, and C all have one card in their hand. Player A has 17, Player B has 39, and Player C has 3. Player C has to know that 3 is a low number and the likelihood that the other two players have a 1 or 2 is unlikely. He plays the 3. Now A and B have to make a decision about what they think the other player is holding. If Player A plays the 17 and then Player B plays the 39, they have all passed level 1. Put aside the level 1 card and get ready for level 2.

To start level 2, shuffle all 100 cards again, and deal the number of cards corresponding to the level to each player. (Level 2 is 2 cards, Level 4 is 4 cards, and so forth). Perform the Concentration Phase, and then the game begins. When there are multiple cards in your hand, you must play the lowest value card before any of the others.

Let’s assume from the earlier example that Player B played the 39 before Player A played the 17. Since this was out of order, the level has been failed. The player with a card that comes before the number played (in this case, Player A has a 17), says “stop” and shows that he or she has the 17. The entire team has now lost a life. Put the life to the side, and anybody holding a card that is lower than the one played puts those cards aside, does the Concentration Phase again, and then continues the round. If nobody has any cards remaining, shuffle and deal the cards again to retry the level.

Remember those throwing stars? At any time during a round, a player can signal that he or she wants to play a throwing star by raising his or her hand. If every player agrees, discard one of the throwing stars and then each player discards the lowest card in his or her hand. This discard must be placed face up to the side so that the players can see each card. Once this has been done, perform the Concentration Phase again and continue the round.

Completing certain levels will net you a reward! If you complete levels 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, and 9, you will receive a reward at the end of each completed level. Completing level 2 will net you 1 extra throwing star. Levels 3, 5, 6, 8, and 9 each have rewards listed on the bottom of the card.

If you and your team complete each level, then you have won as a collective group. If you run out of any lives during the game, then you have failed and must restart the game if you wish to keep playing.

The Mind is an interesting take on a card game the likes of which I haven’t seen or played. It’s such an interesting type of game that really makes you wonder how the concept of it was created. At the end of the rulebook, there is a small excerpt that explains what happens when you play this game long enough and how it creates a fascinating effect in the minds of the players. I don’t want to spoil it here as I feel like the effect is spectacular and unexpected. The Mind is a pivotal game in the ideas of philosophy and rhetoric that pushes you to the limit of understanding the subconscious self.

Trust me when I say that The Mind will test you, but it will also push you to something that feels like it doesn’t exist in space or time. Take from that what you will and give The Mind a try.

Board Game Geek: The Mind

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