Updated: Mar 3
Mind MGMT: The Psychic Espionage “Game” (Off the Page Games) is a hidden movement game set in the city of Zanzibar. It's designed by Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim in collaboration with Matt Kindt, the author and illustrator of the original comics on which the game is based. And, yes the inverted commas around the word "game" were put there by the creators not this reviewer!
One player will take on the role of Mind MGMT, a shadowy organisation that employs psychically powered agents to tackle the world's problems. The remaining 1-4 players will control the four rogue agents trying to put a stop to Mind MGMT. It’s a race against time for these rogue agents to stop the organisation before it can recruit too many more agents to its side.
Play takes place on a beautifully illustrated board (all original new drawings from the comic artist). The rogue agents move about the board trying to locate and capture the Mind MGMT agent by using a process of elimination: identifying spaces that the MM agent has already passed through by asking if the MM agent has visited a space matching the features illustrated on their current location. The MM agent must truthfully reveal at what time and a space if they have indeed been through a matching feature. By piecing together these clues it should be possible for the other players to work out where the hidden MM agent might possibly be and to perform a capture to win the game.
The Mind MGMT agent has their own hidden smaller duplicate board and dry-wipe pens to plot their course. Their aim is to visit spaces matching the features on 3 hidden cards drawn at the start from a deck of the 16 available features; each successfully visited space will add a new recruit to their ranks. If the MM agent collects all 12 recruits or manages to evade capture until the clock runs down (16 turns) then they are the winner.
The rogue agent players have various special asymmetric powers to help in their search. Unfortunately for them, the MM agent also has the ability to slip away using a special move and it has the help of four Immortal agents who it also controls to hamper the rogue agents' efforts.
Coming to Kickstarter in March, the prototype we played and shown here on Board's Eye View had a few issues with the obviously not final components. In particular, the screen in the prototype to hide the Mind MGMT board was far too small and only shielded a part of the board; not only will a bigger screen better serve its intended purpose, but it'll also offer more room for the great art.
Our various plays yielded widely different experiences. One game was easily won by Mind MGMT due to a series of unlucky guesses from the rogue agents who consequently floundered and never really stood a chance. Conversely, on another play, a few early lucky guesses led to the MM's capture in short order. The game compensates for these swings by employing its ‘SHIFT’ system, which works like a kind of reusable Legacy system. Depending on who won a game, a SHIFT package can be opened that will change the game in some way to make it easier/harder for one side or the other, even where that means overriding the main rules. We only got to try out the first SHIFT package included in the prototype, so it will be interesting to see what further content is brought to the table over the course of the upcoming Kickstarter campaign. Could the code below be a clue...?
Having read the comics the theme really stands out, but reading the comics is in no way required to enjoy the game (although you really should as they are excellent). The game plays quite quickly and can be very short indeed if the rogue agents are lucky. It plays well at 2 players; with five, the rogue agents don’t have that much to do on each turn, but really it’s a game of collaboration, deduction and a slither of luck.
The Mind MGMT Kickstarter campaign is live now. Click here to find out more and to back the game.
(Review by Greg White)