Mind MGMT is a deduction strategy secret agent game. Mind MGMT once used its psychically-powered agents to help put a stop to global crises, but now it’s rotting from the inside and covert operatives are out recruiting other psychically great individuals to join them for global domination. A few agents have figured out that Mind MGMT has been compromised and have turned their back on them now working against them. In this game, one player will go up against all the others playing mind tricks as to their whereabouts. The game is for 1-5 players, plays in an hour or so, designed by Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim, and is published by Off the Page Games. Mind MGMT was a huge success being Off the Page Games’ first title, and they will be following this one up with Harrow County: The Game of Gothic Conflict in 2023.
What’s in the Box?
- 1 Game Board
- 1 Mental Screen
- 1 Secret Map
- 1 Double-sided Setup Reminder Card
- 1 Ally Card
- 5 Rogue Agent Action Cards
- 4 Agent Cards
- 16 Feature Cards
- 2 Recruiter Action Cards
- 4 Agent Figures
- 4 Immortal Figures
- 2 Recruiter Cards
- 2 Potential Recruiter Cards
- 2 Mind Slip Tokens
- 10 Step Tokens
- 1 Time Token
- 5 Mayhem Tokens
- 12 Recruit Tokens
- 2 Dry-erase Markers
- 15 Mental Note Tokens
- 14 SHIFT Packages
How’s it Play?
One player plays as the Mind MGMT Recruiter who is seated near the side of the board where everything is right-side up. Their objective is to secretly move around the board, marking each location they visit on their secret map, evading the detection of the rogue agents, while visiting specific features to contact recruits. The recruiter wins if they contact and reveal a total of 12 recruits, or they reach 16:00 without getting captured.
All other players play as Rogue Agents who are to investigate and attempt to track down the recruiter before time runs out. They win if they successfully capture the recruiter by performing a capture action while in the same location as the recruiter.
All players follow the round with the recruiter taking an action and advancing their time token, then the rogue agents activating any of their 2 agents, then the recruiter takes an action and advanced the time token and resolves an alert icon, and then the rogue agent activate their remaining 2 agents. This is then repeated over and over again.
The recruiter records their whereabouts on their secret map writing down the turn on the space where they were that turn. The recruiter performs step actions to move to any orthogonally adjacent square. They can never visit a location they have already visited, can never move diagonally, can not move through mayhem, and can move into a location where an agent is located (and you do not need to reveal that you’ve done so.)
Whenever the recruiter is in a location that has 1 or more circled features matching any of the 3 feature cards behind their screen, you contact a recruit for each circled feature. Temples on the map are special and allow the recruiter or agents to move diagonally.
There will be times where the recruiter will be in a tight spot, and the other action they can take is a mind slip action. You discard a mind slip token to use the action detailed on your card, which is moving in 2 spaces in one direction either orthogonally adjacent or diagonal. This gets you out of that tight spot, but soon the agents will know you used it and continue after you. You start with 1 mind slip token, and another token is placed out during setup that you can gain by haven been in that location.
The recruiter also controls 4 immortals that can help contact recruits and disrupt the rogue agents. When an immortal is in the same location as an agent, it prevents the agent to use ask, reveal, or capture actions in that location. Also, like the recruiter, the immortals have their own features cards showing where they can contact recruiter, but these cards are visible to the rogue agents.
They activate 2 agents per turn who have not yet activated. The agents can move up to 2 spaces and take 1 action.
The ask action is done by the agent choosing a feature where they are currently located and asking if the recruiter has visited any location with that same feature. If the recruiter has, they choose one to place a step token on. The agents can always keep track of information by using their mental notes and placing them on the board.
The reveal action lets an agent who is in a location with a step token ask the recruiter when they were in that location. Of course, it would be smart to use a mental note and write the answer down for that space.
The shakedown action can be performed when an agent is in the same spade as an immortal. They choose a feature and ask the recruiter if it matches one of their 3 cards behind their screen. If you are right, the recruiter will reveal it and no longer be able to use it to recruit with. You can then push the immortal to any orthogonally adjacent square.
The capture action is performed when attempting to capture the recruit by having an agent on the same space as the recruiter. The recruiter checks their map and declare a capture or a miss. If captured, that ends the game and the rogue agents win.
Each agent also has their own abilities they can use and take advantage of.
Again, the recruiter wins if the time token makes it to 16:00 or if they have contacted 12 recruits.
Hidden movement games hold a special place in my heart, but ever since first playing what I would call the first hidden movement deduction game, Scotland Yard, I haven’t felt like any of the others have become better than it. Many others have made things more complicated, or more busy adding different mechanics to try to make the game deeper and more thematic. But I always seemed to gravitate back to Scotland Yard because of how simple and easy the game is but still has that great hide and seek type feel to it.
Mind MGT might be the game that takes that away for me. Mind MGMT still keeps the game simple and doesn’t add on complexity to make it harder to get the game to the table. Mind MGMT also does something even better than Scotland Yard, that I really appreciate, which is causing multiple tense moments to take place during a game session.
Scotland Yard will really only have one tense moment or chase and they either get away or get found. But Mind MGMT‘s design gives both teams ways to be close but then have ways to get away multiple times throughout the game. These tense moments really is what makes these chase-type games fun for both sides, and Mind MGMT has nailed that part.
The rules of straight forward, easy to learn and play. The game doesn’t take more time than it should. This game really trims off all the fat and keeps all the good stuff making it one of the best hidden movement deduction chase games out there. But, they didn’t stop there.
I’m guessing they thought they needed to make Mind MGMT even more special. There are so many board games being produced these days, and doing something amazing is just going to help you succeed with so many other options being available.
So, the designers or the publishers, or someone made the call to add additional content into the game. This is the SHIFT system, which takes up almost half of the box’s space. The shift system is designed to balance the game between groups that play the game over and over again. The losing team gains a SHIFT package, adding additional abilities to increase their odds of winning next time. These packages are fun to open and use and will hopefully bring back victory to you and your team.
The components in the game are amazing. It’s really well made and made to be played over and over again and will last for a long time. I have my copy of Settlers of Catan that I got 20 or so years ago, and the box is barely a box, and the components are all worn. Well, I expect my copy of Mind MGMT to hold up way better in 20 years than my Settlers of Catan has.
I also appreciate the style of art, it has a retro look to it. Then they added some psychic touches to bring in the theme with the art, and it worked out very well.
Overall, this is my first official game review of 2023, and it’s a really really good one. If you like hidden movement games, then this is the new standard, or this is the game that needs to be beaten to cause me to move on from Mind MGMT as my new go to hide and seek game.
Images via Off the Page Games
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