I watched a video yesterday of a group of people explaining and playing a card game called The Mind. I was intrigued enough to buy this cooperative game for myself, in spite of the game’s simple concept.
The Mind consists of a deck of 100 cards that are numbered simply from 1 to 100, 8 cards that are labeled as levels 1 through 8, four cards representing “lives”, and a handful of cards marked as “throwing stars”. These are the only things you need to play the game.
The game begins by laying out the four life cards. Every time you make a mistake in the game, you remove one of these cards from play. When you run out of life cards, you lose. The game is played cooperatively, so everyone loses at once. The level cards are also stacked face-up so that level 1 is visible and the subsequent levels are stacked in order beneath it. Then the first round begins.
At the start of each round, players are dealt a number of cards equal to the level they are currently at. After players have their cards, play is very simple. Players place their cards at any time such that they create a pile that is always increasing in numeric value. As long as the cards always increase in value, players don’t lose lives. If at any time a card is placed that is higher than a card another player has in their hand, the game is stopped, all cards lower than the card played are discarded, and the players lose a life.
When all of the players are out of cards, the level is complete. The deck is reshuffled, the level increased, and play continues at the next level with more cards in each person’s hand. Each level may have some bonus that you earn upon completion, such as adding a throwing star to the available pool.
Oh. Did I mention that you’re not allowed to talk or give signals to each other during the game?
Yes, imagine playing such a game. This is why it is called The Mind. It’s basically ESP at the poker table. And I’m sure you’re thinking, “How could anyone possibly win this game?” Well, in the video I watched, they won level 8, which is the game. So it’s definitely possible.
There are a couple of additional rules to the game. At any point a player may say, “Stop!” and put his hand on the table. All players put their hands on the table. You may still not talk (at least about what you have in your hand), but the purpose is to allow you to look at each other and telepath what cards you might have in your hand. Play continues after players remove their hands from the table.
Throwing stars can be used if all players raise their hands. A throwing star allows players to discard their lowest card from their hand. When a throwing star is used, it is discarded. You can regain them by completing certain levels.
That’s basically the whole game. When I heard them describe it, I thought to myself that this can’t possibly work, that it seems like a worthless game mechanic. But watching the game played… The tension. And the spooky success without any communication? Well, it was tantalizing. I have to try it for myself.