Staring At My Wife, While Counting Cards
I used to love staring at my wife, trying to figure out what she was thinking about. I focused on how she held her eyebrow; were her lips pursed slightly or relaxed; head cocked or straight; were her eyes looking at mine, barely askew from my gaze, or completely looking away. All of these signs, quirks, or slight variations from her norm told me all I needed to know about her at that moment. Often it told her current emotion, if she was hiding something, or if she was just gushing at my hotness. But I can honestly say, I never looked at the tiny wrinkle around her nose, hoping it would reveal if she held a card numbered between 18 and 27, until last night.
I really don't think I need to say much about the phenomenal game, The Mind. The reviews have been circulating the internet and YouTube for quite some time, and they all agree that this was one of the best games released last year. So, this isn't a review, because the world doesn't need another one. Instead, I want to describe what this game did for me on my wife and mine first play through.
Last night was the first time in a while that both my wife and I sat in silence, focusing on nothing but each other, without the TV redirecting our attention. There was no music. Our cell phones were far from our grasp; we never even thought to check them. The only thing between the two of us were our individual hands of cards. But even this were rarely glanced at. Our eyes were on each other's, and we only thought of what that smirk, or that stance, or that cocked head meant. This game gave us something that had been lost for quite some time, the desire for each others companionship, and nothing else at that moment.
This is a beautiful and extraordinary thing for a card game to accomplish in a world where we feel like we need to be constantly bombarded with new images and sounds to keep our attentions. But this game is also fantastic, fun, simple to learn, teach and play, and has one of the most profound and exhilarating pay offs when you successfully finish one of the higher levels.
I love simple games, and this is as simple as it gets. And yet the stress, the anticipation, and the sense of relief and accomplishment when your partner plays a 46, the second before you were about to play a 48, rivals the sensation I feel while playing those gigantic, and theme-rich games, that are usually associated with these deep emotions. Gloomhaven has exquisite storytelling, deep lore, beautiful production, and immersive gameplay, but I've never left a game of Gloomhaven feeling nearly as accomplished and connected with my wife, as last night when we succeeded in level 10 of The Mind.
I played three games, and I was exhausted, but for the better. I felt like i had run a mile, but was ready to run two the next day. But most importantly, I experienced a camaraderie, companionship, and intimacy with my wife, like I've never felt after finishing a game.