Thoughts on The Mind Card Game

The Mind published by White Goblin Games
I love the game art for The Mind by Oliver Freudenreich. The bunny even has sandals.

I picked up a copy of The Mind at Spellenwinkel Subcultures a couple of months ago when I was visiting the Netherlands. The Mind is a card game for 2 – 4 players designed by Wolfgang Warsch and the copy that I bought was published by White Goblin Games. I wonder if Wolfgang Warsch is considered a superhero secret identity name in Europe? You know, like Peter Parker, Reed Richards, Wade Wilson or Bertolt Brecht. Games are usually pretty quick, maybe 15 – 20 minutes, so it’s a great filler for a small group game night.

I don’t think The Mind is available domestically just yet, but I’m sure it will be soon, especially since it was recently nominated for the Spiel des Jahres. In the small box, you will find 100 cards numbered from one to 100, along with 12 levels, five life cards and three glowing throwing stars. I love it when people comment on how strange it is that there are throwing star cards. It’s like they are saying, “I can accept the floating bunny rabbit with telekinesis, but why would it need throwing stars? That’s just silly.”

How to Play The Mind

Vallende sterren
Vallende sterren actually means falling stars in Dutch.

The goal of the game is to play to the center of the table in ascending order until all players have exhausted the cards in their hands. The catch is that players cannot communicate with each other about what cards they have. It’s like group Rack-O played by Professor X, Jean Grey and the ghost of Sylvia Browne. Each round, the players are dealt an additional card, so at level one you have a single card and by level eight you have eight cards.

If someone plays a card out of sequence, then players discard all cards that are lower than the card played and the group loses a life. If the group chooses to use a throwing star, which they indicate by all raising their hands, then they can discard their lowest card. This is pretty helpful because it not only gets rid of cards but it also provides useful information about remaining card values.

If the group manages to play all of their cards to the center and still has at least one remaining life, then they continue on to the next round. If they reach the goal level, which varies depending on the number of players, then they win. The trick is that all of this must be done without any type of signal or communication.

What I think about The Mind

I’ve played this about ten times with 13 different people and it was a hit with everyone who tried it. I think it’s a hoot. I’ve seen the arguments about whether or not it’s a game or an activity, but I could really care less. The Mind is a heck of a lot of fun, and I have my own theory about what makes it so special. In most games, players have to focus their attention on the game objective or their strategy. They spend all their time looking at the board and thinking about what they will do next. When playing The Mind, the players focus their attention on the other players. Not being able to talk or signal your intentions creates this wonderful ongoing instinctual interface that usually only happens in those silent moments when friends look at each other and they both know exactly what the other is thinking.

Even though The Mind is supposed to be a silent game, I don’t recommend that you play it in a library. You will probably laugh really loud and get the stink eye from the librarian.

I’ve been enjoying getting back into the swing of writing these little updates. It’s always fun to hear from people who are reading, so if you have a moment to make a comment or share this post with others, I would appreciate it. Be a good human and take time to play some games.

13 thoughts on “Thoughts on The Mind Card Game”

  1. I finally won a game! I’ve been in groups that failed at level 7, but two days ago we hit level 8.

  2. I won for the first time just recently. Didn’t think it was possible. It felt amazing! Pure, mental bliss!

  3. I tried it at an offsite work meeting, after the cocktail hour. I thought it would be a huge success, but the truth is the nongamers were so thrown by the unconventionality of the game that it interfered with their enjoyment. At least at first. Then they had a round on Level 3 when they successfully played a large sequence of cards, and immediately high-fived each other other! Hurray! Though they asked to play something else next.

  4. It is interesting to see the way different groups define what types of non-verbal cues are okay to use.

  5. I’ve only had it go poorly with one group. We had a person that was eating a meal, talking to people at another table and checking her phone. Made it really hard for everyone to concentrate.

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