The Mind Card Game Review (Pandasaurus Games)


"Are you sure you don't want to play?"

"I'm autistic. Making me play that game would be technically classified as a hate crime."

In The Mind, cards numbered 1 to 100 are doled out between players. Each player only gets 1 card the first round, 2 cards the second round, and so forth. The goal each round is to place cards down from lowest to highest. This mechanic may sound very familiar to most people -- and it may sound pretty simple. 

The catch? You can't talk or communicate in any way. You can't make gestures or use secret signals.

And you absolutely cannot talk.

The MInd Card Game Details

Players: 2 to 4

Game Time: 15 Minutes

Age: 9+

Genre: Party Games / Cooperative

How is The Mind Played?

The Mind is structured into multiple rounds, with each round being more difficult than the last. As you progress, you get bonuses -- but there are more cards that you need to place down. You get extra lives (used up every time you make a mistake) and shurikens (which you can use to force everyone to throw down their lowest card).

On the first round, with three players, one player might get a "4," another would get a "45," and another would get a "60." The goal is to put down 4, 45, and 60. The player with the "4" will likely toss theirs down first, as the odds are low that anyone else has lower. The players with "45" and "60" may hesitate.

Many developers love The Mind, and I think I know why. It causes the players to completely buy into what is, on the surface, an absurd presence. Once players buy in, they have fun, even though the structure of the game itself is -- well -- barely there. There's a level of brilliance to that.

A Game of Slowness

Effectively, the only way you can tell who has a high or low card is related to the amount of time that they take to put down their cards... and the expressions they make as they study their cards. If they have a very high card, they are going to hesitate or outright refuse. If they have a very low card, they will be slowly walking their card to the center of the table.

But, of course, this also assumes that humans are rational actors. Multiple times we saw a player throw down a 36 and then a 48 right after, even though there are 12 numbers potentially between the two. People who had an "8" would hold on to it until someone played a 16, out of hesitation. A player would hold onto a "14" after a "12" just because they were't a hundred percent sure someone didn't have a 13.

Strategically, if every player just waited the number of seconds on their lowest card (8 seconds for 8), they would always win without breaking any rules of the game. The Mind is not a strategy game, it's a party game. The more people played it, the more they became in sync -- but they were also just moving towards a more perfect timing.

A Party Game in Disguise as a Strategy Game

1 to 100 games are nearly always strategy games, but as mentioned, The Mind is not this. The Mind is a party game and everyone involved found it hilarious. It's a game of tension and mistakes, because there's no way to avoid mistakes. It's Russian roulette with lighter consequences and a substantially less scarred audience. 

The problem with The Mind is that it is so light; it's really more a mini-game than a game, and the more you play it, the more it becomes obvious that it's truly random. Players start becoming more impatient and jumping the gun, and your last game of it will probably take half the time of the first game -- not because you're winning faster, but because you're losing faster.

There also is a major problem with the game: you need to thoroughly shuffle the deck between every single round. In a game in which a round can be completed in one minute, that is a lot of shuffling, and it got annoying pretty fast.

At $15 for a box, The Mind is worth getting and playing a few times -- with the caveat that it is an existential nightmare if you cannot read non-verbal cues and facial expressions even in the best of times. 

The Mind Game Card Game Review
  • PRO: A party game that's as fun (if not more fun) to watch as it is to play.
  • CON: A very light game that is nearly entirely random.