Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The Mind: Most polarizing card game of the year?

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Charlie Theel writes in Ars Technica:

When I first heard The Mind described, it didn’t make sense. This little German game has players cooperate to play cards from their hands in ascending order, without talking—and that’s about it. The concept sounds farcical in its simplicity, particularly when paired with the amount of furor the game has generated.

Then I played the thing, and it wouldn’t get out of my head.

Originally published by Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag, The Mind has now been brought to North America by Pandasaurus Games. It was nominated for the prestigious Spiel des Jahres award (though it was beaten by Azuland has started a groundswell of both praise and consternation. How can such a simple game generate so much attention?

Cult of The Mind

The community that has fallen for this design tends to describe The Mind with a sense of mystique and wonder. The game, they say, breeds a feeling of collective action that’s almost cult-like—which is why The Mind is often described as an “experience” as opposed to a game.

That’s not to say this isn’t a game. Players are dealt out a random assortment of cards from a deck numbered 1 to 100. Everyone must then play their cards in ascending order to a joint pile on the table. Whoever has the lowest card in the group must play theirs first, followed by the person holding the next lowest, etc.

The Mind’s magic lies in how it limits communication. Players are not allowed to talk and must instead utilize non-verbal cues (like delayed action) as their primary tools. So if you’re dealt the three, you slowly slide the card face-down towards the middle of the table with your eyes wide as you stare down your peers. You want to push the card forward just cautiously enough to allow someone with a one or two to play first. If you sit there quietly with that three in your hand for too long, the player with the 10 may incorrectly assume she has the lowest value card and toss that out to the pile.

When a card is played out of order, players immediately discard those cards and the group loses a life. Play escalates round to round as each level has more cards dealt to the participants. The stakes increase. The difficulty can be staggering, which provides an otherworldly sense of satisfaction if you eventually eke out a win. When that happens, you’ll be nursing a bruised palm from a dozen high-fives, then hopping up on adrenaline for the rest of the evening.

The Mind is one of the most intensely clever exercises in simplicity I’ve seen. It brings a single mechanism to the table and offers a few restrictions that result in a fantastic trick. Very few games rely so completely on non-verbal communication, and that’s exactly where this title lives and dies.

In many ways, the experience is similar to the classic Ouija board. It offers a situation ripe for exploitation and allows players to do the heavy lifting and meet it more than halfway. This framework can produce euphoric moments shared between everyone at the table. That sense of exhilarating intoxication is powerful—and many tabletop games never achieve it.

Take the following common situation: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 August 2018 at 1:08 pm

Posted in Games

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