This story begins late one night at a board game convention. I was wandering through the hotel lobby looking for my friends when something very odd caught my eye…
I saw four people standing motionless around a bar height table. They were all silent, but each held a hand of cards. Their eyes were darting back and forth to one another as smiles creeped across each of their faces. Then, slowly, one of the ladies lowered a card to the center of the table. It read 55 in large bold text.
I could sense a kind of relief in the group. They seemed pleased with her play, yet they still said nothing. I was fascinated and wanted to know what was going on, but something told me not to interfere with this strange ritual.
The energy of the group quickly became tense again. All attention seemed to suddenly shift to two men at the table. They stared at one another. They seemed uncertain about something.
Then, one of the men clenched his teeth as he slowly lowered a card from his hand to the center of the table…. 63. The man opposite of him let out an exhale of disappointment… and revealed a 61 from his hand. BOOM! The silence at the table was broken and the group erupted into laughs and discussion about the game.
I soon learned that the game they were playing was called The Mind.
The Mind is a cooperative game of telepathy for 2-4 players. Yes, I said telepathy…
Here is how it works:
There is a deck of 100 cards, and these cards are numbered 1-100. This deck is shuffled and each player is dealt a hand. You may look at your own hand of cards, but you may not share it with any other player or give any hints about what cards you have.
Players must then silently play the cards from their hand to the center of the table in ascending order from lowest to highest. If the group makes a mistake, then one life is lost.
Example: Someone plays their 63 before someone else can play their 61.
If the group loses all of their lives, the game is over and the players lose.
However, if all cards are discarded in the correct order (lowest to highest), the ‘level’ is considered complete and players move on to the next level. Each level in the game correlates to how many cards each player is dealt, and it get progressively more difficult as the game goes on.
Level 1- one card each
Level 2- two cards each
Level 3- three cards each… etc.
Depending on the number of players, the number of levels the group must complete varies, but if your group can make it through all levels of the game with at least one life remaining, you win!
Pretty simple, huh?
Well actually, there is a little more to it, but text may not be the best format to break it down. For more rules, I invite you to check out one of the How to Play videos listed at the bottom of this post.
From the moment I discovered The Mind I was mesmerized. Besides being one of the simplest and most enjoyable games I’ve ever played, I’ve also found that The Mind is my absolute favorite game to teach to new players. I’ve taught the game to both seasoned board game players as well as to people completely new to the gaming hobby. Both groups reacted with equal delight! There are few things more satisfying than watching a table of people gasp joyfully as the flow of the group locks into sync, their cards falling to the table in perfect sequence-
5, 9, 22, 23, 25, 38, 44, 50…
The Mind is a unique game in that it forces everyone involved to completely tune out from distractions (tv, smart phone, music) and focus entirely on the people they are playing with.
You will bond with your teammates in peaceful silence and quickly learn how to predict the way their minds think. Some players will toss down their cards confidently and quickly, and expect you do the same. Others may be more reserved, and take their time dropping cards to be sure no one else has something to play. This may cause some argument among players about the ‘right’ way to play, but these tiffs don’t last long. The beauty of The Mind is that since it is cooperative game, all players must equally adjust their play-style to match the pace of the group if they hope to win.
There is another very special reason why I love The Mind. While I have long been a fan of collecting and playing board games, perhaps the most satisfying part of the hobby for me is teaching new games to others. Specifically, I love watching the ‘ah ha’ moment when a new player suddenly understands what kind of experience the game is promoting, and they become excited to jump in and start playing! Any professional educator will tell you that there is something primal and rewarding about teaching people new skills. I can’t help but wonder if teaching games is a kind of ‘hack’ that quickly stimulates this same kind of joy. Because of The Mind, I’ve become inspired to create this blog where my goal will be to help people discover the best gateway games on the market so they too can introduce them to their friends and family.
All images © 2018 Robert D. Bruce