Self Awareness in board games is minimum commodity that not many designers are willing to visit, let alone stay there. If anything, they want you to look on their game as a means of escape, a way out of your normal day to day. Mind MGMT embraces its existence in a way I haven’t seen in a board game ever, and makes you think you’re watching Ryan Reynolds break the fourth wall repeatedly while trying to be serious. This is all about the big conspiracy, the secret conspiracies, the codenames and talking and the recruitment and people in doorways and meetings at fountains and outdoor cafes. It’s about chasing down the Recruiters as a Rogue Agent and trying to make the world a less controlled place. In the spirit of enjoyment and discovery, THERE WILL BE NO SPOILERS IN THIS ARTICLE.
Mind MGMT is a hidden movement game, and for those unfamiliar with the concept, this will mean that regardless of the number of players, you’re playing as two teams heading off against each other on the same board space. Unlike other competitive games, one of the team will essentially be hidden from view and it is the other team’s job to track them down and claim victory. Hidden movement games have provided me with some of the most tense gaming sessions I have experienced as a player and so I was excited to see how Mind MGMT compared and what it did to make it stand out from the crowd, in a relatively quiet part of the boardgame space.
You’re not looking at overly complicated concepts or mechanics here at a base level. Whether you play as two or the full five players, one of you will play the Recruiter from Mind MGMT, while the others will play as the four Rogue Agents trying to ascertain the location of the Recruiter. The Rogue Agents are present on the board as standees, while the Recruiter will have their own smaller version of the board behind a screen, where they will mark out where they have been as they move around the board, trying to evade capture, while at the same time recruiting people to the Mind MGMT cause. Across the board there are a landmarks where the Recruiter will pass through and collect new recruits to help their cause. The Rogue Agents can ask if the recruiter has passed through a certain type of landmark to help map out where the Recruiter has been. You lay down clues and guesses as wonderful brain shaped clues. The idea here is to lower the base area down enough to help pinpoint where the Recruiter is so the Agents can carry out a Capture action. As you get more familiar with the base game, you’ll bring in the Immortals who fall under the Recruiter’s control to assist them in helping them avoid detection while also allowing recruitment to take place at a quicker pace. Mind MGMT is designed to be played repeatedly, with players encouraged to log multiple plays and then based on success or failure, have the chance to change the game by opening one of the many SHIFT packages that will change the game incrementally. Mind MGMT benefits from having very easy to understand base mechanics and based on who you play with, there’s likely to be a reasonable amount of tension as the net the either tightens enough or you escape to recruit another day.
Collect enough recruits as the Recruiter or survive long enough and you’ll win the game and further the Mind MGMT cause. Capture the Recruiter and the Rogue Agents will win the day.
Mind MGMT can take hours if you want it to. While there is the tension of the cat and mouse of the game, like other hidden movement games there’s the psychology that surrounds it in a social fog, where you can be exchanging quips with those who are trying to hunt you down. Where things can get wonderfully personal as you try to project what you know about your opponents onto the board itself. You can rattle through a game extremely quickly if the mood takes you, but that would be doing a disservice to the atmosphere and world that Mind MGMT is built in.
These aren’t Final Thoughts, but maybe final thoughts without the capital letters and only because Mind MGMT offers a whole lot more than I think players are going to realise when they first open the box. To call it a hidden movement is both accurate but a wonderful disservice to where MM is aiming for. Whitechapel is hidden movement game in its purest form. Mind MGMT is trying to be a self aware concept album, and all that is missing is the back cover black and white photo of the band members under a bridge. The art work from Matt Kindt is dangerous on the table, nothing that you’ve probably seen before. It would offend the eyes of graphic designers and the “Boardgame Artwork Feedback Facebook Groups” that constantly shout about clarity and reason and organisation. When you first squint at it, and you will squint at it, you’ll wonder how it’s going to be playable, let alone enjoyable. It doesn’t sit there passively either. Side notes and comments and hidden clues all shout at you from the box, everything from the screen to the card art is trying to make a statement. It makes missteps which is expected from such a cocky little bugger. The rulebook provides unneeded learning barriers which luckily fade away after the first couple of games. There is the entire additional buffet of delights in the SHIFT system, the options to add in additional difficulties with the Mayhem tokens. Where other games take a theme and cover their game with a thin watercolour veil making sure to touch lightly and gently, Off The Page pours Mind MGMT all over the box and components like a mixture of peanut butter and petrol, then sets everything alight laughing as it does. You’ll hate it. You sure about that? You positive? Be Positive. You’re positive. It’s not bad. It’s fine. It’s good. Come in. Join Us. Have a Seat. Welcome aboard..
Reveal is your friend. Make sure you ask and follow up with a Reveal action as soon as you can to help build your Net.
Design – Sen-Foong Lim & Jay Cormier
Illustrations, Design, Comic Art & Writing – Matt Kindt
Rulebook – Sharlene Kindt
Rules Editor – Jeff Fraser
App Developer – Eric Raué
This review is based on the retail version of the game provided to us by the designer and publisher. We were not paid for this review. We give a general overview of the gameplay and so not all of the mechanical aspects of the game may be mentioned.
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