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Mind MGMT The Psychic Espionage Board Game Review

WBG Score: 8.5

Player Count: 1-5

You’ll like this if you like: Beast, Scotland Yard, Fury of Dracula.

Published by: Off the Page Games

Mind MGMT is an American comic that ran from May 2012 to August 2015. It only had 36 issues, so it is very easy to get into, enjoy, and finish. In 2021, the design team behind games such as Junk Art and Akrotiri came together again to turn this master piece of a comic into a game. Working with the same artist and writer as the original production, Matt Kindt, the game has the same feel as the comic, but does it play as well as it looks?

Set Up

First, decide who will play as the rogue agents and which single player will play as Mind MGMT. You can have between one and four players working together as the rogue agents, but only one on the other side. Position yourself around the board accordingly in teams, next to your area. Give the player working as Mind MGMT their screen, recruit pieces, stack of footprint tokens, one mind slip token, a dry wipe pen, and the two recruiter cards for them to chose one in secret. Then give the players working as the rogue agents their player pieces, mental note tokens, character cards, and pens. Place the time piece on the 01:00 - 05:00 space in the time track.

There is a training mission to learn the game, and then the full game. If you are playing the training mission, you are pretty much done for set-up. Just block off the last two spaces on the time track to make a shorter game. You are now ready to go.

In the full game there are a few more steps. You will now give five mayhem pieces to place on the board. These block movement between squares, and can be placed anywhere on the board, just not next to each other.

The player playing as the recruiter will now write a 'one' on their starting location on their mini board. In the training mission, they will mark this on the main board as well to show the rogue agents where they are starting. But usually you would not do this. Your location is kept secret at all times. It's sort of the point of the entire game! They will then draw three feature cards at random, mark off each of their selected features on their mini board so they can easily move to them, and then mark a two, three, four, and five in orthogonally adjacent spaces. This shows their movement over the subsequent four hours. The recruiter will add on the four Immortal figures onto the board, on any separate space other than the outside edges.

Whilst this is being done, the rogue agents will need to place their characters onto the board. In the training game they have no additional powers. In the full game, each agent has it's own unique power, so be sure to have your rogue card the right way up so you can easily see this. They will then place their agents onto any space on the outside edge of the board.

The agents will now place a second mind slip token anywhere they like on the board as long as it is next to one of the two temples spaces. T=hey will then draw two additional feature cards and place them face up under the immortal recruiting label. You are now ready to play.

How to Win

Players will now take it in turns to complete their mission. For the player playing at Mind MGMT, they need to move onto spaces that match their feature cards to make nine or twelve recruits, depending on if this is the training or full game. Each location they move onto that has a matching feature will add one to their goal. They can move one space each turn, and every other turn, when they move the time piece onto a red time spot, you must declare how many recruits you have made in your last two turns. If you ever reach your goal, the game immediately ends and you win.

The rogue agents are simply trying to find you. If they ever play a 'reveal' card on a space that the player playing as Mind MGMT is on the same time, the game immediately ends and the rogue agents collectively win. If the rogue agents fail to find the player acting as Mind MGMT, and the Mind MGMT player fails to reach their recruiting goal, but the time runs out, Mind MGMT win.

How to Play

The player acting as Mind MGMT is looking to move around, avoiding the capture of the rogue agents. They need to make a bee-line for their target recruits, but also avoid the gaze of the agents. Initially, this will seem simple, and the advantage will appear to side with them. But as the rouge agents reveal their powers, you will quickly see how clever this game is.

On the rogue agents turn, they can activate any two of their characters. They can all move one or two spaces and then carry out one action. This could be to move to a location, pick one of the two features there, and then ask the Mind MGMT player if they have at any point, been on any location with this specific feature. If this has happened, the Mind MGMT player now needs to place one footprint token on any one of these locations they had been on. If they had visited more than one location with this feature during their previous movement they can put the footprint token on either one. It does not have to be the most recent. But this will start to build a path for the rogue agents to follow. Each space has two features on so sometimes Mind MGMT visit features they don't want or need too in their desire to reach other features. Or, perhaps it was just on their way. Or, maybe its one of the three features they are chasing?

The rogue agents can on a later turn, move to any location with a footprint and ask the Mind MGMT player to declare at what exact time they were there. Very handy if it was recent! The agents also have their own unique powers to help build up the picture of where the Mind MGMT has been. One character can ask if the Mind MGMT is in any two orthogonally adjacent spaces at that point. The rogue agents can also use their mental note tokens to keep track of the information they gather. It's starting to sound like the game favours them now, isn't it?

Well never fear. The player playing as the Mind MGMT still has a few tricks up their sleeve. They can move onto one of the two temple locations and move diagonally in either direction, or use their mind slip token to jump two spaces either orthogonally or diagonally, depending on which character they chose during set up. This is not known by the rogue agent. However they will know when you use it. The mind MGMT player must discard their mind slip token when it is used, to show the power has been activated. But all this will tell the rogue agents is that the Mind MGMT character is now two spaces away from their last location in either direction. And remember, their last location may not be known. Although the Mind Slip is often used when the rogue agents are about to pounce!

It's starting to slip back in favour of the Mind MGMT player now! Well, this is exactly how this game works. You will play games that sometimes seem to favour the agents, and other times the Mind MGMT. Perhaps this is down to luck. Sometimes this is skill. Perhaps this is the players strategy. Either way, the best bit of this game is about to come. Prepare yourself.

Are you prepared? OK, read on.

After each game, the losing team can open a secret wallet filled with goodies. There are 14 of these packages. Seven designed for each team. You can open one per loss. In order. Each time, you will be presented with a mini comic and some cool new rules and components that will help the team that previously lost in their next game. In subsequent games when they are all open, you can add these in as you see fit, to try and create the perfect game for you. Balanced based on who is playing. You can set the rules and components as best for you and how you enjoy playing. But as you open them game by game, it is a thing of pure joy! I don't want to spoil this so I wont say or show much more, but it brings you back for game after game.

A large part of the fun in this game is exploring these for yourself as you play. This is a campaign game that creates new and exciting rules and additions each game. But always in the favour of the team that lost the last game to even things out as you play. It creates a swing effect between victories. This is called the SHIFT system, and it is utter genius. I absolutely adore it.

Is it Fun?

Oh my goodness, is this fun! The basic game alone is very good. If you like hidden movement games then you will enjoy this. It feels very much like other games in it's genre. But the shift system completely rips up the rule book and makes Mind MGMT stand apart. This now has to be seen as the benchmark in hidden movement games. It takes the mechanic to a new level, time and time again as you play through the campaign, and I cannot think of how anyone would not enjoy that process, even if the game itself isn't for them. But as a semi-cooperative game, this has something for everyone. Either play as a team trying to find the Mind MGMT, or work alone and try to trick your friends.

The powers you have from game one, (well, game two in truth) are brilliant fun to use. And they only get better and better. You will be wanting to play Mind MGMT just so you can open another Shift box, and play again. It is incredibly addictive. In all the good ways. It is fun to switch between the roles of Rouge agent and Mind MGMT as well, although like other campaign games such as Undaunted, you may find yourself emotional connecting with one team, and wanting to play as them each time. Especially as you get to try new powers each time you lose.

This also creates a very interesting feeling to winning and losing with this game. Obviously you want to win, but losing rewards you with a very exciting and juicy prize! So, it's win-win really. And what game can legitimately say that?

As you would expect from a game inspired by a comic book, the art is stunning. The world in this game looks just like the one from the comic books, and fans of the series will be transported straight into this mysterious clandestine story. If you have not read the comics you won't be confused or miss out on anything. The game explains it all. But I would suggest that like games such as Batman, this game is made a little bit more special when you fully absorb yourself in the comic too.

I would recommend this game to anyone who has played games like Scotland Yard and enjoyed it but felt it was lacking a little something. Mind MGMT adds in that little something. Ad then some more. Then some more, and then even more. Until you feel there can be no more. And then some more on top. As such, I would say that Mind MGMT is a masterpiece and a genre defining moment in the board game hobby.

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