Oh, we can’t talk? I have ‘two’ go ‘four’ a drink.
There is a game I enjoy called The Game. I enjoy it, but it is the single worst thing to find anything about on an internet search. The concept is simple – you have two stacks of numbers that ascend, and two stacks that descend. Without talking about what is in your hand, you need to play all 98 cards numbered 2-99 out to win.
The Game shares a mechanic that is not widely used in gaming – it actively attempts to stop specific communication between players. Most games (and especially cooperative games) do everything they can to encourage players to work together, but there is an emerging category that is adding the ‘don’t talk’ twist to increase the challenge exponentially. Such games include Hanabi and Magic Maze.
Another thing these games have in common is some hilarious ways I have seen my friends trying to game the system.
In Hanabi, where you can only give one piece of information about the cards in another players hands (that they can’t see), it is common for such sentences as “These ‘two’ are Green”.
In Magic Maze, the rule is when you flip the timer everyone can talk until someone moves a pawn. It suddenly became the rule to put it on its side to pause time to let players talk as long as they wanted, and with no game time penalty.
And in The Game, suddenly the rule was you could play the piles in columns so you could see what had been played rather than having to remember what had been played.
Now, while these ‘cheats’ are against the spirit of the game, at the end of the day if the players are enjoying the game I can’t really say it’s wrong. I prefer players try and play the game ‘properly’ before making the game simpler, but you play games for fun.
For this reason, I put these under house rules rather than cheats. Modifying the game to play how they prefer is something that happens all the time, and as long as all players agree to the rule change, that’s how the game will be played.
So, what has all this got to do with The Mind?
Well, that’s simple – The Mind is the next game that will drive some players crazy with house rule variants. If you are one of those players that cannot play the aforementioned games with people that modify the rules, The Mind may not be for you.
But if you sort of to really liked those games, The Mind will be a great addition to your library.
Gameplay is similar to The Game while also being very different. You are still trying to put cards from your hands into play in ascending order only, but this time it is only one pile.
But where a lot of players felt frustrated at trying to get through The Game’s entire deck to win, The Mind implements levels that give you another challenge. Instead of trying to beat the game each time, you also have your previous best level to use as a milestone as well.
So the gameplay is simple. Basically set out a number of lives depending on the number of players, and deal a number of cards to each player equal to the Level you are playing on (starting at one).
Then, without discussing your cards, players play their lowest card in any player order. The goal is only to empty your starting hand, not go through a deck. So if you are playing a three player game, to beat level one you literally have to get three cards out in ascending order.
If someone plays a higher card than you have in your hand, you call ‘stop’ and all players discard cards lower than that card. When all these cards are discarded, you remove a life, and as long as you have lives left the game continues.
There is also the Throwing Star card, which you usually start with one and can get as a reward for finishing levels. If all players agree, you discard a Throwing Star to allow all players to show their lowest card. This gives a surprising amount of information to players, and as such, should be used as sparingly as possible.
These few tweaks by themselves may help players frustrated with the difficulty of some of the other games mentioned. The door is still open for players to for ‘accidentally’ play the number 99 card and instant win the level. The rules do say you must play your lowest card, but you know someone that is going to try and do this. Again, if your having fun then play this way by all means, but to me for The Mind this is taking the ‘game’ part out of the game.
I can’t wait for The Mind to start distribution in July 2018 – hopefully it will be a quick release in Australia and I can get a proper review up soon!
Until next time,