discussed my love of The Mind in great detail in this space, and now I'm back eighteen months later to express similar love for The Mind Extreme, a design from Wolfgang Warsch and publisher Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag that embodies the same spirit as that original game.
The Mind is all about group dynamics, with players needing to collaboratively discard the numbered cards in their hand into a single discard pile in ascending order without discussing which cards they hold. As you empty your hand, you rise up in levels within the game, increasing your hand size, which makes gameplay both more challenging and easier. Sure, you have more cards to play, which increase your chances of making a mistake, yet by playing more cards you also increase the group's ability to create a rhythm of play.Unexpected synchronicity in level 1
This contradiction is intensified in The Mind Extreme, with players now holding cards in two colors — one white, the other red, with each color bearing the numbers from 1 to 50 — and with white cards being played in ascending order while red ones are played in descending order. Which colors of cards will you hold? As is almost always the case in card games, it depends on what you're dealt. Sometimes your attention will be spread across both discard piles, you on edge to jump in at any moment; at other times, your hand will be filled with mostly one color, inadvertently and secretly putting you in command of that color, perhaps letting you set the pace at which others will play.
I've played The Mind Extreme 24 times so far on a review copy from NSV with all player counts 2-4, and the game delivers The Mind experience, but with intensified ups-and-downs in gameplay since you're rushing to play on two discard piles at once.One shuriken was enough to get us through level 10
What's more, on various levels as the game progresses, you're required to play one color or both face down, revealing whether you succeeded in playing the cards in order only once they've all been played. This "dark mode" was present in The Mind, but only as a challenge after you completed the regular game.
In The Mind Extreme, you're now pushed into dark mode whether you want to go there or not — which is a plus in my mind. Each level of either game is a roller coaster ride of sorts, with alternating waves of anticipation and release, playing and waiting in the hope of dropping everything in the right order with you able to breathe easily and relax only once your hands are empty. Now, you have an additional jump scare at the end of the ride, unsure of whether you made it home safely until the proof is revealed to all.
Check out the video below for many more thoughts about The Mind Extreme:
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