Wednesday, 30 May 2018

It's All in The Mind

I had a flurry of boardgame purchases of late, some that I had been looking forward to for some time, but one that was more of an impulse buy. I'd heard good things, it seemed a simple yet interesting concept, and it was cheap. Nine quid from amazon, delivered. This cheap little gem is called The Mind, and we tested a few games last night. All enjoyable, but none had quite the surprise factor that The Mind had. For such a simple concept, we never realised how much fun could be had, nor how much tension could be generated. We had three grown men in a pub, yelling at each other and jumping for joy... because they managed to get three sodding cards in the right order!

So, how does this game work? Well, there is a deck of 100 numbered cards. In level 1 you get one card each. All you have to do is put them down in the correct order. The catch, you and your teammates are not allowed to communicate. In any way. No nods, no winks, no sneezes. You have to be like tibetan monks, absolute zen masters... until your teammate puts down a 57. A 57?!? What the fuck?!? How could you possibly think it was time for a 57? I've still got a 35 in my hand!

In this round, the player in the top left would be quite justified in thinking "surely someone must have less than a 75?" And the odds are with him on that one. Or not in this case. But the player with 82 has similar odds and similar thoughts, the question is who breaks first.

The little bunny cards represent lives and the stars are a special trick (you can earn more of both as you progress through the levels) If you want to use a star, you raise your hand. Anyone who agrees raises their hand. If the decision is unanimous, a star is used. Every player discards their lowest card. This not only reduces the cards you have to lay, but can also give a big clue going forward. "Your lowest card is 86? Right, we won't wait on you for a while then..."

If a mistake is made then whoever can see there is a mistake says "Stop" they remove a life card and then anyone who has been overtaken by the keen bean player discards any invalidated cards. This can mean if someone jumps several guns they only cost you one life... however, to avoid someone playing the 100 card first and thus clearing an entire level for one life (you may consider that a fair swap late game) you always must lay your lowest card.

This concept seems so simple, yet we had so much fun with it. We played for what must have been an hour. We failed on the tenth and final level and decided enough, we had to play a different game. Although to be fair, in that hour of play where we failed on the tenth and final level, we had only got past level 5 once. So that shows how good we were.

The highlight was the end of round 9 if I recall correctly. I had two cards, rich and scott had one each. We had a single life left, so no one wanted to fuck things up. We were up to 90. So 4 cards in 10 numbers to play.

Now I had 98 and 100, so knew that even IF one of them had 99, the other MUST have a lower card, so they must go before me. Rich had 99, so even if someone has 100, 2 cards must be played before his, so he was correct to wait. Scott had 96. So there are 5 cards lower than his, and 4 higher, so it's fairly good tactics for him to wait. So we waited. We just sat looking at each other, screaming silently inside, for what must have been two minutes, before scott tentatively put down his 96.

Thank God it was a 96. If it had been a 93 or 94 we'd still have sat there looking at each other, but when rich didn't IMMEDIATELY slap down a 97, I knew it must be me for 98, and the rest completed as expected. We roared with approval and relief. We spent the next few minutes talking about how close we came to messing it up. And that was one where two of the three players knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that they could not play first, and STILL the tension was killing us!

This game is absolutely fantastic, and I cannot recommend it enough. I don't know if it's available in English yet, but I picked up the German copy off amazon cheap enough and it was a snap to find downloadable English rules from the Internet. It is good for up to 4 players, and if there's more of you, take it in turns. When 4 other players finished their 40k doubles game and came to join in with one of the other games we were playing, we forced them to play a few rounds of The Mind first. Just watching them start yelling at each other was highly entertaining for the three of us who had already lived through it once. So there is entertainment value in watching people play this game.

And you never know, one day I may even complete it.

Anyway, to paraphrase a song sung by a friend of mine, The Mind Is a terrible thing to waste. So pick up a copy now.


  1. That really sounds like a good game! I imagine with 4 players it gets even harder.

    I enjoyed the K'Junga quote at the end there ;)

    1. Can't say yet, only personally played with three, but I assume so as the more players there are the more lives you start with and the less levels you have to complete.