Designer: Wolfgang Warsch
Publisher: NSV, Pandasaurus
2-4 players 15 minutes ages 8+
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.
The Mind has a deck of 100 cards numbered 1-100.
There are also 5 life cards and 3 throwing star cards.
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….
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.
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.
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.