First Impressions: The Mind

The hype is real. The Mind from NSV has been taking over the board game community by surprise and a lot of vocal boardgame ambassadors on social media are advocating its greatness. Now that The Mind has actually been nominated by the famous Spiel des Jahres award, even more attention is drawn to this small game from Wolfgang Warsch. Is the jury out of their mind or is it legit? Is The Mind even a game? A social experiment? Magic? Or soon to be forgotten after the gimmick wears off…

Is it a game?

2 – 4 players try to complete a certain level based on the number of players. At the beginning of a level each player gets a number of cards equal to the level from a deck with numbers 1-100. After a short moment of contemplation, players try to play cards from their hand on the board in ascending order, without talking or hidden gestures. There are no player turns.

When a players think they have the next card to be played, they simply play it. If players can play all their cards without making a ‘mistake’, they complete the level and move on to the next level. When a card is played with a higher number than a card that someone holds, players lose a “life”. Players lose the game when all the “life” cards are spent. Players win if they complete all levels with at least one “life” card left. Completing some levels will return an extra “life” card. There are also star cards that allow players to remove the lowest card from each player’s hand. This can only be done if all players agree.

So does this qualify as a game? Personally, I think so, due to the fact that it is an activity with attributes and a fixed set of rules, this makes a game, but there is room for debate.

A mindmeld…

Players seem to be guessing when they have to play their next card. Or are they…? The Mind is actually played in the mind of the players and shows how human minds can synchronize. The complete removal of communication between players is an important change compared to the previous comparable game of NSV called The Game. No more vague rules about what players may or may not say or communicate. This leaves one game mechanism; downtime.

Downtime as a game mechanism

Between each card that is being played there is a certain downtime for all players. How will players respond to each second between plays? Will you wait any longer before playing your 32 card on the 19 card that was last played? Or does one of my fellow players have a card with a value between 32 and 19, and should you hold of in playing the 32 card? This is where the excitement will come. The players will feel satisfaction after every correct move. And when the level is finally completed, there is joy, relief and discharge.
Personally, I think that this could be a great game for everyone. Everyone has a mind, right? Try it in any case and assess the game for what it is. Some people may enjoy it a few times and others will become addicted and play a few hundred or more times. And everything in between. And you know what? That’s fine. Just put your mind at ease and do not deny yourself of this experience.


Follow Peter van der Helm:

I'm Peter van der Helm, married, and live in the Netherlands. It started in 1994 when I bought an starter deck from Deciphers Star Trek CCG and have played multiple CCG's and LCG's since. I have a game group in Deventer with whom I play boardgames. I mostly like medium length games with a good theme.

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