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Have you ever said or thought the exact same thing as someone else at exactly the same time?

Of course you have. That’s what “Jinx” was invented for.

If you can manage to think like this consistently, you’ll do quite well playing The Mind, a simple-to-play card game for 2 to 4 players.

Let’s take a look at how The Mind works (pun intended).

How to Play The Mind

The Mind game box

The Mind comes in a small box – Canasta-sized, for those familiar with that game. It’s actually a little too small (but not as bad as the Isle of Trains box) and will probably feel even smaller as the deck expands as it get used.

You get a deck of 100 cards that are numbered from 1 to 100. You also get 12 Level cards, some Life cards, and some Throwing Star cards.

The Mind deck of 100 cards
The Mind deck

You can see in the photo above that the 98 card (and several others) have a dot to indicate which end is up. Usually you only need to do this with 6s and 9s. The font they chose to use for The Mind requires using it for more numbers than that.

If you don’t look closely, the 98 above could easily be mistaken for an 86. It’s far from a big problem in this game, but they sure could have chosen a font that didn’t cause this potential confusion.

Depending on the number of players, you use 8 (for 4 players), 10 (for 3), or all 12 (for 2) Level cards. Your goal is to make it through all the Levels without losing all your Life cards.

The Mind Level cards
The 12 Level cards

You can see that, in Levels 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, and 9, you gain either a Life or a Star if you make it through that Level.

The number of players also determines how many Life and Star cards you get at the start.

The Mind Life and Star cards
Life and Star cards

To start, you deal 1 card to each player. When each player is ready, he lays his palm on the table to indicate his readiness. This might seem like an unnecessary step, but it really is useful.

When everyone is ready, someone plays a card face up in the center of the table.

How do you decide when to play your card? That’s the whole point of the game. Your goal is to play all the cards that everyone is holding in sequential order from low to high.

That would be simple enough if you could, for example, just tell the other players which card you’re holding. However, not only can you not do that, but you can’t give any clues or hints – spoken or unspoken – as to what card you have in your hand.

You just have to wait until it feels right. Then play your card.

If no one else had a lower card, great! Keep going until all cards are played.

If someone did have a lower card, they pause the game, show their card (placing it off to the side), and you (plural) lose a Life card.

If there are still cards in players’ hands, you keep going until all are played or until you lose your last Life card.

Playing The Mind

In Level 1, each player gets 1 card. In Level 2, each player gets 2 cards, and so on up to the 8th, 10th, or 12th Level. You reshuffle all 100 cards before starting each Level.

At any time during play, players can agree to use a Star card. When this happens, each player discards (face up to the side) the lowest card from his hand. This can often give clues as to what remains in players hands (if anything). Using a Star card feels like using a lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Thoughts about The Mind (Pun Intended)

This is the most addictive non-video game I have ever played. It’s not just a feeling of…This game was great, so let’s play again…it’s more like…That was awesome, but we didn’t win, and I know we can do better next time, so let’s try again right now!

Since there is so little setup for a new game, that makes it even easier to want to play consecutive games.

I kinda wish the cards were just a tad (like a millimeter) thicker. They feel like they could get creased – and thus marked – too easily. That said, it’s probably a good thing that they aren’t any thicker. They’re hard enough to shuffle as is. We usually end up shuffling them as 2 decks and then doing one final “master” shuffle to get them all together again before the deal. Also, you’d need a bigger box from the start, if the cards were thicker.

Most of the time, we lose a Life card when the next card to be played is just 1 number higher or lower than the next card another player is holding. Both players are waiting the same amount of time, and it’s just luck as to which player goes first.

The Mind works well with 2, 3, or 4 players. It feels more difficult with more players because more cards are involved each round. The same feeling comes as you are dealt more cards from level to level. This is as it should be.

Get your own copy of The Mind at Amazon now!

The Mind Review: Can You Become a Hivemind?