How is "starting to play a card" not obviously cheating the "no communication" rule? And how would a third player "help out" two players who are unsure without doing any communication?

In general this feels like a timing calibration game when played correctly - since technically any other form of communication is banned, and then it reduces to something not interesting. I presume the lesson is that players find the type/level of communication that makes the game interesting and use that?

The Mind: Board Game Review

by Alexei 2 min read10th May 202012 comments

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Recently I've played a board game called The Mind. I had an amazing experience and would highly recommend it to anyone. But I think the LW crowd might find it especially interesting, and I'll say more on that at the end.

I'll describe the game briefly, but I also recommend you watch this explanation and review of the game if you want to understand it better.

If you want to read about my personal experience with it, I'll post it in a comment. But I'd recommend you only read it after you've played the game yourself a few times and ideally got to the end.

Rules of the game

There is a deck of cards, 1-100. Each player is dealt N cards, where N is the current level. Without any kind of verbal communication the players have to play their cards into the center one by one in the increasing order. If someone plays a card and someone else has a lower card, then you've collectively made a mistake and you lose a life. I'm skipping over a few minor rules, but this is the core of the game.

The game is collaborative and supports 2-4 players. On the box it says the game takes 20-30 minutes, and that's true because you're likely to lose pretty fast. But once you get good, the game might easily take longer: 1-1.5 hours, depending on the pace your group sets.

One thing that's a bit tricky with this game is that the rules around the communication are somewhat vague. In theory, you could try to develop a language that communicates the numbers or something like that. I'd highly discourage you to do that, and in fact, I'd recommend to not do any kind of strategizing or coordination with your group. Just play it and let the strategy emerge non-verbally. Steelman the game's rules until you're having the most fun with it.

Relevance to LW

  • Circling: I think of circling as interpersonal meditation. You're very present with what's happening right now, both in yourself and in others. In this game you enter a very similar state. You're watching each player carefully for the clues they're giving you. How are they feeling? What are they trying to communicate? How do they think you're feeling?
  • IFS: This game is called The Mind for a reason. When you play the game well it feels like you're actually merging your minds with the other players. Like you're becoming one. Moreover, you learn to recognize certain tendencies or biases in other players. You learn to compensate for theirs, as they learn to compensate for yours. Sometimes when two players are unsure, they'd look to the other player for help.
  • Calibration: There are multiple things you're trying to calibrate at once. There's your "speed". There's your sense of "speed" of other players. There's the risk taking aspect / being the first one to play.
  • Non-verbal skills: Since this game doesn't allow verbal communication, non-verbals are all you have. You have to eye each person like a hawk, picking up on everything they're giving you. Likewise, you have to "tell" the other players what card you have. How do you do that? Will they pick up on your signs? What are they trying to tell you?
  • Meditation / flow state: When you're really in the zone with this game, it feels like a pristine flow state. The closest I've gotten to such awake, active, and collected state has been through meditation. Unlike the similar state from meditation it can be super tense, though.

If this seems like the kind of game you'd enjoy, I'd highly recommend you follow through on that feeling and get the game. Post a comment about your experience!

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