Forbidden Sky

Release: 5/6/2018    Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Run Time: 85 min    Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

First came the island. Your team of adventurers found relics in temples sinking into the sea.

Next was the Desert. Crashed in the wastes, your team rebuilt an ancient flying machine to escape.

And now, high above the clouds, your team discovers an abandoned launch station from a lost space-faring civilization.

There’s just one problem. A deadly storm is coming. Can you rewire the station (creating a real electrical circuit) and gather your team for a rocket launch into the Forbidden Sky?

Forbidden Sky is the third in a trilogy of cooperative games by noted designer Matt Leacock. Each game in the series adds new challenges and levels of complexity to overcome.

Listen in to explore the game and discover why it deserves BOTH awards!

Forbidden Sky

Gamewright  |  BGG  |  Buy

Designers: Matt Leacock

Publisher: Gamewright

2-5 players   1 hour   ages 10+   MSRP $40

For info on the other segments featured on the show, check out the show notes at The Spiel!

***

Music credits include:

Sky Man   |  by Geoff Goddard  |  the song

Big Sky  |  The Kinks  |  the song

Night Sky  |  Chvrches  |  the song

***

Echidna Shuffle

Echidna Shuffle

Wattsalpoag|  BGG

Designer: Kris Gould
Publisher: Wattsalpoag
2-6 players 15-20 minutes ages 6+
MSRP $30

text-the concept

Echidnas, prickly cousins to the platypus, love to roam the forest floor. They often bump into friends along the way as they walk their well worn paths. What the echidnas don’t know is this. The insects of the forest ride them everywhere… like the bus or the subway! Better yet, echidnas are like spiny unaware Uber or Lyft drivers, picking up and dropping off passengers as they shuffle along.

In Echidna Shuffle, each player has three colorful insects they are trying to get home. Can you catch a ride on an echidna and help it shuffle through the forest to your home stumps? The problem is there are so many echidnas around, they often wander off course, especially when you get close to your bug’s home!

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Echidna Shuffle can easily make a case for being the cutest game in the universe.

One look at the ridiculously adorable echidna figurines and you’ll be smiling. You will want to hold them. And talk to them. And play with them like a long lost pet. OK… maybe that’s just me. But I don’t think so! They are irresistibly cute.

There are also lovely stumps and insect figurines in bright colors: butterflies and ladybugs, ants and bees, grasshoppers and beetles – a group for each player. plus a bug token and a pickup marker.

The game board is big and bright and two sided, each one displaying a different layout of forest paths. There are big arrows indicating the directions of the paths.

Last but not least is the number board and the custom echidna die. It is a 6-sided die, but it is numbered from 2-7 with tiny echinda feet as its pips.

To begin, each player will select a pickup space. This is where all your bugs will catch a ride from the echidnas. The player to your left will get to decide where to place your three stumps. This means your stumps will most likely be annoyingly far away from where your bugs catch a ride

text-the mechanics

Echidna Shuffle is a dice-driven pick-up-and-deliver game. It’s a race between you and your fellow players to see who can get all their bugs delivered safely to their home stumps on the board.

Directly and indirectly, the echidna die drives each turn. On your first turn, you roll the die and based on that roll, you place a matching token on that number on your number board.

Then you get to move the echidnas a number of spaces equal to the number you rolled.

You can move any echidna on the board. You can even move multiple echidnas. No one owns them. So any of the cute little critters are fair game.

If you land an echidna on your pickup marker, then one of your bugs catches a ride! Place it on the echidna’s back. The two pieces connect together beautifully.

But here’s the catch.

There are a LOT of echidnas and only a few open spaces along the forest path! In order to move an echidna, you must follow the arrows along the path AND the echidna must have an open space on which to land.

Echidnas won’t jump over or land on occupied spaces.

If this cardboard forest has a golden rule it’s this: if there’s an echidna in your way, you must shuffle it along to another space.

Thus begins your struggle to keep the flow of echidna traffic moving! In order to move the one echidna you really want to move, you may need to move several others on the board to clear a path.

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Balance, reluctant kindness and temptation to mischief set Echidna Shuffle apart.

Balance comes in the form of the number board. The echidna die is numbered 2-7. Over the course of two turns you will get to move echidnas a total of 9 spaces, guaranteed. If your first roll is a 7, you mark this with a token on your number board. On your next turn you do not roll the die. Instead, you move the number token down along the arrow to the space with the 2. This means you get to move the echidnas two spaces as though you rolled a 2 this turn. If I roll a 5 on my first turn, I know my next turn I will move 4. A 3 first? Then a 6 next time.

This brings balance to the game since you will never have to worry about always rolling low. A low roll one turn guarantees your next “virtual” roll courtesy of the number board will be high.

Reluctant kindness and temptation to mischief are always present on every turn in Echidna Shuffle. Reluctant kindness comes in the form of moving an echidna with someone else’s bug. It could even mean delivering another player’s bug to one of their home stumps! The board is so tight with traffic that sometimes the only way to help yourself is to help someone else, too!

Temptation to mischief is rooted in the same dilemma. When the echidnas are blocking your best path and you don’t have enough moves to get them out of the way, the temptation is always there to move echidnas with other player’s bugs along a path that might make it harder for them to get home. Sometimes the only way to help yourself is to mess someone else up!

This decision point  – to be kind and/or mischievous is there every turn. And each time the cute little creatures move, some people will cheer while others will moan. This keeps everyone engaged and part of the game.

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On the great board game Venn diagram in sky (it’s a thing, trust me) Echidna Shuffle sits at the intersection of beauty, balance, interaction and simple strategy. Each of these elements provides its own invitation to play.

Beauty in the wonderfully charming pieces.

Balance in the number board equalizing high and low die rolls

Interaction in the fact you will most likely help or cause mischief for other players each time you take a turn

Simple strategy in the surprising level of planning and forethought available to every player.

You can accept any of these invitations. Or all of them. And they all lead to different kinds of fun.

All this in a game clearly geared toward very young players. This is a game for children that can operate on many levels at once.

The kids can fall in love with the beauty and the interaction. The balance and planning may be lost on them, while the parents or older friends or siblings can find fun there too.

There are even variants to explore and plenty of ways you could nudge the game to suit the needs of your group.

Echidna Shuffle is delightful and charming. It is most definitely Major Fun and a great example of what a modern game for kids can and should be.

Written by: Stephen Conway

Flotsam Fight

Release: 4/15/2018    Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Run Time: 56 min    Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

A treasure hunter’s life is never easy. Especially when the ship with your treasure capsizes and all your loot starts to float away!

Flotsam Fight is a card shedding game that plays like an old classic.Your goal is to put as many treasure cards as you can onto lifeboats. The problem is, each treasure will only fit onto certain boats. And when one player finishes loading up, you don’t want to be stuck with an armful of big loot!

Tune in to see why we think Flotsam Fight packs a ton of Major Fun into such a small box.

Flotsam Fight

Oink Games |  BGG |  Buy

Designers: Tomoyuki Maruta

Publisher: Oink Games

2-6 players  30 minutes   ages 8+   MSRP $23

For info on the other segments featured on the show, check out the show notes at The Spiel!

***

Music credits include:

Gower Flotsam in Bordeaux   |  by Mabon  |  the song

Flotsam  |  by The Fogcutters  |  the song

***

Illusion

Illusion

NSV|  Pandasaurus  |  BGG

Designer: Wolfgang Warsch
Publisher: NSV, Pandasaurus
2-4 players 20 minutes ages 8+
MSRP $15

text-the concept

Illusion asks the simple question: Can you trust your eyes? All you need to do is put cards in order, from low to high, based on just one color. Everything is right before you— if you can believe what you see.

Illusion takes child like concepts of shape and color, more and less, and turns them into Major Fun for everyone at the table.

Illusion has players ranking cards with abstract shapes, based on which card has more of one particular color. Each following player must either accept the order as correct, or challenge the existing order.

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Illusion uses 110 cards. 12 cards make up the arrow deck, with 3 in each of the four colors(red, green, yellow, and blue). In addition, there are 98 color cards. These each have an abstract pattern on the front, using the four colors. The backs all state the ratio of each color on the card, ranked in percentages.

text-the mechanics

Shuffle the 12 arrow cards and flip one face up. This card will indicate which color matters for each player this round. The 98 color cards are shuffled, and the deck is placed face up. Now the top card of the color deck is placed in line with the arrow card. 

After choosing a starting player, that person takes the next card from the color deck. Without looking at the back, the start player must order the two cards from lower to higher based on the arrow color.

Now, you, as the next player, have a decision to make. Are the two cards in the correct order, from least to most of the color in question? If you think they are, then it’s your turn to add another card to the queue. Ignoring the three other colors, where does the new card fit in? Least? Most? Middle?

On the other hand, you may decide the cards aren’t ordered correctly. You then question the validity of the entire row. Flip over all the color cards. On the back of each card are the percentage of the color in question. Did you guess correctly?

If you did, you receive the arrow card as a reward. It counts as one point to your score. The goal is to score 3 points, or to have the most points if you play through all 12 arrow cards.

However, if the row was in correct order, the previous player gets the point.  Then, discard all the color cards, and begin a new round. In either case, the player who was awarded the card is the new start player.

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1). Illusion asks you to consider math differently. Typically, math is all about formulas and numbers and ratios. I give you a certain amount of info, and you apply the theorems to find the exact answer. And, that’s just about as fun as that sounds.

Forget that. Illusion demands you use your eyes, your gut, your feelings, to determine if this card has more red than another. The exact numbers are hidden. You need to go on your instincts. The game even uses terms like trust and believe.

2). Illusion asks you to question what art is. The color cards are computer generated. Squiggles, lines, geometric shapes, and the occasional letter or number. Is this art? Strictly speaking, no. And yet, there’s a subtle beauty in every color card. Aside from serving a mathematical function, each one stands as a small piece of art, conforming to the demands of the game.

And, as you judge each card for its value, the simple beauty of the shapes and colors takes hold. You are taking in art and evaluating it, not only for its beauty, but also for its conformation to the rules of math.

3): Illusion is tricky without being overly complex. Those little triangles of green might add up to more than that big splotch on the other card. It’s magic is more slight-of-hand than make-an-elephant-disappear.  It’s charm is simple, subtle, and impishly deceiving.

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Illusion challenges your brains in a different way. Illusion is smart, without being smarter than its audience. And this makes it easily accessible to most ages.  But even though you’ll be thinking or seeing in new ways, Illusion never forgets that the end goal is fun.

Illusion is, as its name suggests, illusory. It poses a simple question—More, or Less? But the complexity which results from that question poses a challenge for young and old.

And that challenge is most certainly Major Fun.

Written by: Doug Richardson

Just One

Release: 3/4/2018    Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Run Time: 73 min    Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

Just One is a cooperative party game. A stack of 13 cards stands between everyone playing and perfection. Each round clues will be given and a guess will be made in hopes of finding the magic word for the round. But in each case, whether you’re a clue giver or word guesser you get JUST ONE.

The tension in the game comes from each player’s imagination and trying not to get in synch with anyone else at the table. Can you use your powers of inference, using your knowledge of the word and the knowledge of the people at the table to figure out what path they might be on so you can avoid it and find one of your own?

And by shifting the competition away from each other to a question of how well can we all do, it celebrates the joy of playing over the joy of winning. It’s not even funny how Major Fun that is.

Listen in for a full review and discussion.

Just One

Repos BGG  |  Buy

Designers: Ludovic Roudy, Bruno Sautter

Artist: Eric Azagury

Publisher: Repos Production

3-7 players  20 minutes   ages 8+   MSRP $25

For info on the other segments featured on the show, check out the show notes at The Spiel!

***

Music credits include:

Just One of Those Things  |  the song
performed by Ella Fitzgerald written by Cole Porter
A Day in the Life  |  the song
performed by Manhattan Jazz Quintet  written by The Beatles
Just a Bum  |  the song
performed and written by Greg Brown

***

Reef


Reef

Next Move Games|  BGG  |  Buy

Designer: Emerson Matsuuchi
Publisher: Next Move Games
2-4 players 30 minutes ages 8+
MSRP $40

text-the concept

In Reef, players explore the fragile beauty of nature’s coral reefs. Each player controls one tiny bit of ocean, adding bright coral pieces to their real estate. Choose carefully which coral to add, and Neptune will reward you with his approval. Can you create a masterpiece of the sea?

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The first thing you notice when you open Reef is the 112 chunky pieces. Evenly divided between four colors: green, yellow, purple, and orange-red. Big and tactile, each color is formed in a distinct shape, but also stacks well with any other color.

From these pieces you will build your own coral reef. Your challenge is to look ahead and build in a way which meets the demands of the cards you choose. Do so, and you’ll claim mastery of an undersea kingdom!

In addition to the pieces, there are 88 point tokens in various denominations, a deck of 60 cards, and 4 player boards.

Each player takes one of each color reef piece, three 1-point tokens, and two cards at random from the deck. Then, on your player board arrange the pieces, one on each of the four center spaces.

text-the mechanics

Reef is a game of pattern building and recognition. Using cards you’ll gather colorful pieces to build your reef, hoping to stack them into the right configurations to score.

A turn in Reef is simple. You either draw one of the face up cards from the display, or you play a card from your hand.

If you draw a card, you may take any one of the three face up cards for free. The top card of the deck is also available, but at a cost. You must pay a 1-point token to take this card, putting the token on the lowest point value card in the row.

Playing a card from your hand allows you to grow your reef. First, take the two pieces depicted on the top of the card into your stock. Now add these two to your player board, placing them either on an open space, or on top of other pieces already in your reef, regardless of color. The only restriction is that no stack may ever exceed four pieces high.

After, score the pattern at the bottom of the card. If the pattern doesn’t match your board, it scores no points. For every match, take the number of points shown on the card.

For example, a card might show an example of three red pieces arranged at a right angle(or an ‘L’ shape). Below this might be a number 4. For each separate instance this pattern appears on your board, you score four points. Keep in mind that the only pieces which count are the ones atop each stack.

A pattern might also show a specific number, such as a yellow piece with a number 2. Here, the only stacks which can be considered for scoring are those which are two high, and whose top piece is yellow.

Once you draw a card, or play a card, the next player in clockwise order will take a turn. The game continues in this manner until at least one set of pieces, or the draw deck runs out.

At the end of the game, you score the cards left in your hand, if any. But, if there are multiple matches on a card, only one match will score. Add up all the point tokens you’ve collected, and the player with the highest total wins!

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I will emphasize three elements of game play which make Reef a new classic among abstract games. All three allow players to learn and enjoy facets of more complex games without becoming bogged down in tedious study.

1).The ease of entry. The 8+ age suggestion seems right, but even a seven year old could play this game. The big chunky pieces even invite them to play. Maybe they won’t win. But teach it to a nine year old, and watch them run the table.

2).The dread, delicious ending. Of course, you want to go into the final scoring with cards in hand. But so often cards will score multiple times before the end, and only once after. Which cards do you try to get played before the game ends?

3).The smooth introduction of strategy game elements to casual gaming. Without even realizing it, players step into a world familiar to strategy gamers. Concepts such as hand management, chaining of actions, and pattern recognition.

The finest of all abstract games, Chess and Go, use these last two elements in deep ways. Masters of either game spend entire lifetimes exploring those depths. Reef allows us all to play with these elements, and begin to explore. Reef makes the deep simple and enjoyable.

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Next Move was founded on the idea of introducing simple, but engaging, abstract games to the public. Starting with the hugely popular Azul(a Spiel of Approval winner in 2018), and now with Reef, they’ve managed to bring games with wide appeal more directly into public view. By doing so, they serve us all by helping to expand our hobby.

Some have criticized Reef for its pieces being less impressive than Azul’s patterned tiles. I think this misses the fact that Reef aims to attract a slightly younger audience. Reef’s pieces are fun to look at and fun to play with. Of course the underlying game is compelling in its own right, but the three dimensional reef pieces enhance our enjoyment of the game.

In the end, what we can ask from games is that they allow us to explore a path to fun, and to let us ask our common question: “What would it be like if?” Reef invites us all to build an underwater kingdom. Few of us will ever even visit a coral reef, but here we can grasp the pieces of our choosing and build a tabletop empire of coral.

Whether you are seven or seventy, the ease of play, coupled with the challenge and joy of creating an undersea landscape, makes Reef worthy of the Major Fun Award.

Piepmatz

Release: 2/18/2018    Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Run Time: 74 min    Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

A flock of little songbirds gather at the feeder to eat. One by one, different birds hop on the perch and carry away their meals, large and small. Can you gather the best collection of bird and seed cards as the feeder empties while avoiding greedy squirrels and angry crows?

Piepmatz is a beautiful and beautifully simple card game for players of all ages. It’s easy to learn but provides an enjoyable, ever-changing puzzle to sort out each turn.

It takes creative vision to find a game in something so seemingly ordinary. That vision is a sure path to Major Fun.

Listen in for a full review and discussion.

Piepmatz

Lookout  |  BGG

Designers: Ben Pinchback, Matt Riddle

Artist: Klemenz Franz, Mike Langman

Publisher: Lookout Games

2-4 players  20-30 minutes   ages 10+   MSRP $15

For info on the other segments featured on the show, check out the show notes at The Spiel!

***

Music credits include:

The Birds   by  Ottorino Respighi  |  music

Space Oddity  by David Bowie (Antonin Charvat)  |  music

Ancestral Plane  L. Goransson

(Uzowuru & Kleinman Remix) | music

Birds on a Wire  by Jarbas Agnelli  | music

Grantchester Meadows  by Pink Floyd  |  music

***

Monster Crunch

Monster Crunch

Big G Creative |  BGG  |  Buy

Designer: Forrest-Pruzan Creative
Publisher: Big G Creative
2-5 players 20 minutes ages 9+
MSRP $20

text-the concept

It’s Saturday morning. You and your monster friends are bored and hungry. There’s only one way to settle this: make breakfast into a battle. Get your bowl and spoon and ice cold milk ready to go. Crack open your box of sugary cereal cards and play as many as you can over the course of three hands. The monster who munches the most cereal wins and walks away the champion of breakfast!

text-the components

There are 180 very colorful cereal cards, divided into five 36 card decks. Each deck looks like a box of cereal with a classic General Mills monster: Boo Berry, Count Chocula, Frankenberry, Fruit Brute, and Fruity Yummy Mummy. Each deck has 3 cards numbered 1 through 12.

Each player starts with one of these decks, a matching bowl and a tile that explains your monster’s special powers.

The bright and attractive artwork draws you into the game. And there’s an undeniable nostalgia factor in play as well. If you’re of a certain age, the game will almost instantly pull you into pleasant memories of hours spent staring at these characters at the kitchen table with cartoons blaring in the background

text-the mechanics

Monster Crunch draws its inspiration from a style of classic card game called a ladder game. Why ladder? Each round, you must play a card (or a set of cards) that increase in value – up and up like rungs on a ladder. Each round ends when you get to the top of the ladder because everyone else cannot or does not want to play.

Ladder games are a very popular genre both in Asia and in the West and there are many different variations all played with a standard deck of cards. Zheng Shangyou is the most famous in China. In the West, it’s President. And many modern card games have introduced their own spin on this classic: The Great Dalmuti, Gang of Four, Lexio, and Tichu just to name a few.

Enter Monster Crunch, adding its own voice to this chorus.

The game is played in three hands of 12 cards. On your turn you will play a single card to your bowl to stay in for the round or you will pass. The card you play must be equal to or higher than the previous card played (climbing the ladder). If I play a 3 to my bowl, then you must play a  3 or higher to your bowl or you must pass.

Eventually, as the numbers go higher and higher, you will be forced to pass. When you do, you will bank all the cards you played to your bowl. These cards will form your score for the game. You’ll also get a milk token when you pass if you’re not the last player in the round. Rounds continue until one player gets rid of all his or her cards. The player that ends the hand will score 12 points (1 point for each card). The other players will score any cards banked during the hand.

Most points after three hands wins the game.

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Monster Crunch adds two fun twists to the ladder genre: milk tokens and monster abilities.

Normally, each round you may only play a single card to your bowl and this card must be equal to or higher than the previous card played. For each milk token you spend, you may play an additional card to your bowl. The additional card can match the card you play OR the be the next consecutive number. If I play a 7 and add a milk token, I can play another 7 or an 8.

In both cases, whenever you use milk tokens, you add up all the cards played to form a single number. If I played the 7-8 with my milk token, the number for the next player is 15!

With milk tokens, you can create a numbers that are higher than the highest numbered card in the deck! Milk tokens give you a new way to see every hand you play. They add an element of flexibility and strategy that’s simple to understand but fun to manage

Each monster also has two special powers to use during the game. Yummy Mummy can swap a card from its hand with one in the score pile. Count Chocula can reverse the rules for a round so that players must play cards equal to or lower than the previous card.

Each power can have a significant impact on a particular round, so the trick is knowing when to make best use of them as the game moves forward.

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Monster Crunch provides a wonderful introduction to the ladder game genre. It is innovative but ridiculously accessible. Play a card equal or higher than the last one – there’s the essence of the game. Monster Crunch gives players permission to bend or break this basic rule. Deciding when and how to play outside the normal rules makes the game more rewarding and more fun every time you play.

The draw of nostalgia and its bright and happy art is powerful and compelling but without a  rock solid game beneath, Monster Crunch would get soggy and dissolve like cereal left sitting too long in milk.

Lucky for us, Monster Crunch packs a one-two punch filled with Major Fun.

Special Note:

This review appears in the Winter 2018/19 issue of Casual Game Insider Magazine.

CGI publishes a wonderful selection of articles and reviews on a quarterly basis.  In 2019, a Major Fun review will be featured in the next several issues.

The Spiel, Major Fun and CGI share a common goal: opening doors to the wider world of play. We hope this cross promotion will invite more people into the game community.

***

The Short List

We play hundreds of different games every year. Each and every one is given due consideration for our two award programs: The Major Fun Award and The Spiel of Approval.

Out of these hundreds only 12-15 games are selected per award. And these are the games we cover with in-depth audio and written reviews.

Every year, though, inevitably, there are games that might not be a good fit for the award criteria but are games we really enjoy nonetheless.

So, starting this year, we are going to do a round up of games that made our short list. It’s not a comprehensive list by any stretch, but rather a snapshot look at some games that may have slipped past your attention.

Think of  the Short List as an Honorable Mention category from this point forward.  These games didn’t make the final cut, but we think they’re engaging and fun.

Read on to explore the list.

I bet you’ll find at least a couple you’ll be itching to try! 

Big Money     BGG  |  Wonderforge

The Chameleon     BGG  |  Big Potato

Conex     BGG  |  HABA USA

Fruitenzy    JLS Productions

MacGyver     BGGPressman

Pool Party     BGG  |  Blue Orange

Venture Party     BGG  |  Golden Bell

The Mind

The Mind   NSV |  BGG  |  Buy

Designer: Wolfgang Warsch
Publisher: NSV, Pandasaurus
2-4 players 15 minutes ages 8+
MSRP $15

text-the concept

Have you ever been in The Zone? Maybe you found it playing music. Everyone in the orchestra playing in perfect time. That pure sweet sound is impossible to forget. Or you found it on the basketball court – each teammate anticipating the moves of the next – it’s like poetry – no one can stop you and no one can miss. It’s special, being in The Zone – a moment of perfect harmony – being totally in synch with everyone around you. Special because The Zone is so hard to find and special because it’s so hard to stay in The Zone once you do! If you get there even for a few fleeting seconds, it’s like magic. The Zone leaves its mark on you and you’ll strive to find it again and again.

The Mind is a cooperative card game that wants its players to find The Zone…and stay there as long as they can! Over the course of several rounds, your team must find a common wavelength to play numbered cards in order to a single stack hoping to reach your goal.

text-the components

The Mind has a deck of 100 cards numbered 1-100.

There are also 5 life cards and 3 throwing star cards.

text-the mechanics

The Mind is played over 8, 10, or 12 rounds, depending on the number of players. The goal for your team is to reach the end of the final round with at least one life remaining. If your team runs out of lives, you lose.

In round one, each player gets one card. Round two, two cards and so on. A round ends when all cards have been played.

One at a time, players will add a single card to a central stack, trying to play all cards in ascending numerical order a la Solitaire.

We’re in Round 2. My hand is 8, 22. Your hand is 15, 73. We want to the stack to go 8-15-22-73. If a card is played out of order, any cards skipped over are shown, discarded, and the team loses a life.

Beyond simple, right? And, yes, even now I can sense some eyes rolling.

But there’s one key element I have yet to mention and this is….

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While playing The Mind, you cannot communicate verbally with your teammates! You cannot indicate the numbers on your cards with gestures or sounds! You must communicate mentally with your teammates and find a way to play every card dealt out for the round in order to the stack.

It will seem crazy at first – perhaps to the point that you might question whether this is actually a game.

But then it will happen. Your team will find The Zone. Somehow, some way, your team will navigate through a minefield of consecutive cards. I play the 68, followed by 69 and 70 from the next two players and you’ll feel the magic. When, not if, this happens, there will be smiles and cheers all around.

How does this happen? What transforms The Mind from a game of Silent Solitaire to a game of telepathic synchronicity?

The Mind asks you to play based on reading your fellow players and not the cards.

While direct communication isn’t allowed, we all transmit a wealth of subtle social clues and cues. The closer we all pay attention to what is happening at the table, the more we are able to observe and interpret. It’s like a new language your team creates and learns as you play.

A subtle glance from the player to your left. A nuanced placement of cards from the player on your right. These things take on meaning and help your team connect and occasionally find The Zone. And when you do, win or lose, there are few feelings better to experience at the game table.

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The Mind is fueled by a powerful kind of playfulness – the joy of playing together in harmony, in synch. Each new game and each new team will present a new set of challenges, a new language to learn, a new opportunity to create those moments where everything lines up. And even when it all goes horribly wrong. No, especially because things often go horribly wrong, it makes those moments in The Zone ones you’ll remember long after you leave the table. Simple, ingenious, and consistently compelling, The Mind drills deep into the essence of Major Fun.

Special Note:

This review appears in the Fall 2018 issue of Casual Game Insider Magazine.

CGI publishes a wonderful selection of articles and reviews on a quarterly basis.  In 2019, a Major Fun review will be featured in the next several issues.

The Spiel, Major Fun and CGI share a common goal: opening doors to the wider world of play. We hope this cross promotion will invite more people into the game community.

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