Dale Yu: 2 Quick review of 2 Quick games from NSV: Anubixx / The Mind: Extreme

Anubixx

  • Designer: Florian & Helmut Ortlepp/ Steffen Benndorf
  • Publisher: NSV
  • Players: 2-5
  • Age: 8+
  • Time: 20-30 min
  • Played with review copy provided by NSV

Anubixx challenges players to roll and write their way in ancient Egypt, trying to erect massive buildings based on the roll of 4 colored dice.  Each player takes a scoring sheet – there are 6 different color arrangements so as long as you pull them off in order, everyone will have a slightly different sheet.  Based on the number of players, you may need to cross off some joker squares in the lower right of your sheet.

A great idea from Essen – put sheets underneath a Plexiglass top on a table – instant re-usable roll and write demo games all day!

A start player is chosen, and that player takes the first turn and rolls the dice.  On a turn, each player may mark off up to 2 colored squares on their sheet – either using results from the dice or from the quarry found at the bottom of the score sheet. The active player goes first, and marks off squares according to the placement rules below.  Any dice which are used by the active player are removed from the table. Afterwards, all the other players can use the remaining dice (and their quarries) to mark off up to 2 spaces on their sheet – however, they may all share the remaining dice. If any player wants to use a stone from their quarry, they may use any stone to the right of the previously used stone – once a stone is skipped in the quarry, you can never go back to it.  You also have a number of joker stones which can stand in for any color.

Placement rules –

The Pyramid – you can cross out stones on the ground level as you like; if you want to cross off higher stones, you must have already crossed out both stones which support that higher stone.

The Arch – You must cross off stones in each leg from the bottom and then go upwards; you do not have to be symmetrical between the two legs.  However, you must have completed both legs in order to mark off the finishing top lintel.

The mosaic (i.e. dance floor) – if you mark stones here, you must mark off 2 stones at the same time, AND those two stones must be vertically or horizontally adjacent to each other.

In the different buildings, you will notice that some spaces have special symbols on them (scarab, snake, eye of hours, ankh, ibis, palm tree, amphora).  If you are the first person to mark out all of a particular symbol – you can score the bonus for that symbol. All players who mark off all of that symbol on the same turn will get the bonus.

The game then continues with the next player clockwise taking the dice, rolling them, and then marking things off, etc.  The game until the end of any turn when at least one player has completed marking out his second building. All players who have done this on that turn can also score the “finished 2 buildings” bonus.

Then each player scores their sheet.  The pyramid scores points for the level of the highest crossed out stone.  The arch scores points for the value of the lower of the two legs. The mosaic scores based on the chart shown to the left of it.  Each bonus achieved scores 3 pts. Finalle, each available quarry cube left over scores 1 pt, and each unused joker cube scores 2 pts.   The player with the most points wins. Ties go to the player who has the most stones marked off in the pyramid.

The TL;DR lesson here is – if you like roll and write games, you’ll like this one.

The proud designer of the game. And,well, me.

It has a number of familiar features (using the dice selection made familiar in Qwixx), but the scoring system gives you some new and interesting choices to make.  As with most of these games, there is a little bit of advantage to being the active player as you have the most opportunity to choose what you want to do; and I guess there is a small overall advantage to going earlier in turn order as you’re likely to get more turns going first… but, it’s a roll and write, and I don’t know if anyone takes this genre so serious to get worked up about that.  There is a little room for defensive play as you might end up choosing your dice to deny someone else a pair which they can use on their dancefloor; though usually I’m so focused on just following my own plan that I don’t often take that into consideration myself.

The quarry and joker spaces give players plenty of flexibility in how they want to fill in their sheet; and they can be extremely valuable to save for either the final round or to maybe snake a bonus score if someone suddenly announces that they’re scoring a bonus.

Anubixx is a game I’m glad to have, and I’m pretty sure at the current rate that we’re going to play through all of the included score-sheets in the box; and in my books, that’s a pretty successful game.

Thoughts from the Other Opinionated Gamers

 Fraser: It ain’t Qwixx, but it is a good roll and write and will probably get played more than some others we have picked up over time.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-

The Mind Extreme

  • Designer: Wolfgang Warsch
  • Publisher: NSV
  • Players: 2-4
  • Age: 8+
  • Time: 20-30 minutes
  • Played with review copy provided by NSV

OK, I will start here by saying that I’m not a fan of The Mind.  Actually, that’s putting it mildly. I am hard pressed to call it a game, and while I’ve seen plenty of other gamers have fantastic experiences with this game, it’s never happened to me, and I’m OK with that.

So, I did approach this game with a little trepidation given my previous history, and I think it is important to know that I’m a hater of The Mind when reading my thoughts on this game.  But… part of me wants to have that transcendental The Mind experience so I can tell my grandkids some awesome Level 12 story someday, so I did want to try The Mind Extreme.

In The Mind Extreme, there are still 100 number cards, but they are now split into 2 decks, red and white, each numbered from 1-50.   Otherwise, it is like the original with 12 level cards, 5 lives and 3 throwing stars. For a four player game, a stack of Levels 1-8 is placed in the center of the table, and the team gets 4 lives and 1 throwing star.

If you look at the level cards, there is a white “0” on the left and a red “51” on the right (and if there is a hand symbol next to the number, players have to play that deck blind; that is all cards are played facedown to that stack) – this is to remind all players of which cards go on which side of the level card; and which direction those cards are heading.  At the start of the level, the deck is shuffled (red and white cards mixed together) and each player gets dealt a number of cards equal to the level number.

Now, here’s where the “magic” happens.  Without talking or using any other communication, the players freely are allowed to play cards to two discard stacks; a white stack on the left which goes upwards from 1 to 50 and a red stack on the right which goes downwards from 50 to 1.  The rules do state that the group is supposed to watch both stacks and play them simultaneously; it is not allowed to finish one stack and then move to the other.

If a mistake is made, i.e. a player plays a card out of order, the player who knows there is an error yells out “Stop” and all players show any card(s) that have been skipped.  The team discards a life card, and all of the skipped cards are also discarded. 

The team can also use throwing stars for hints.  At any point, a player can raise their hand which is a signal to everyone else that someone wants to use a star.  If all players agree, a star is discarded and all players choose either the lowest white card in their hand OR the highest red card in their hand, and all are simultaneously revealed.  Then, the game continues. The team starts with one throwing star, and it can earn more by completing certain levels.

The level is won if all dealt cards are played correctly to the two discard stacks, and the game is won if the final level card in the stack is completed.  Otherwise, (and in cases of the Mind where I play, inevitably) the game ends in defeat.

The TL;DR review here is: if you like The Mind, you’ll probably like this one.

well, i can’t let the other designer not get his picture in the post either – though this is a year old now.

It’s almost like NSV took their two recent hits and mashed them together – it’s almost like The Mind melded with The Game; and this is their love child.

Though I still haven’t seen the magic in this family of games, this one does give the team a few new challenges, and based on the Levels at which my team(s) have exited the game, it certainly seems even more difficult than the original.

The game is made more complex with the two discard stacks; now there are two things to watch.  For those players who skirt the recommendations and try to use a mental metronome to decide when to play, having to calculate two different things makes it much harder to do.  Also, when asking for hints, players can only show a single card, so you may not get the information that you’re looking for.  

After playing this a few times, I can now safely say that The Mind is just not for me.  I don’t think this is a failing of the game, nor a failing of me – but rather, this just isn’t an activity that I enjoy, and that’s fine.  I have watched at least one game of this where the group got all the way to Level 8, and yes, it did seem amazing that someone knew that their 37 was the highest card in the Red deck and played it nearly right off the bat – quickly followed by the 35!  They were loving the game, and it was fantastic to see that enjoyment. I’ll just stick to my wooden bits and cardboard chits for fun and leave this one to the gamers that love it.

Until your next appointment

The Gaming Doctor

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
This entry was posted in Essen 2019, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Dale Yu: 2 Quick review of 2 Quick games from NSV: Anubixx / The Mind: Extreme

  1. Pingback: Dale Yu: 2 Quick review of 2 Quick games from NSV: Anubixx / The Mind: Extreme – Herman Watts

  2. will sargent says:

    staffan benndorf is one of my very favourite designers, and NSV my favourite publisher. I’d take one of their little boxes over 10 sloppy, heavily themed kickstarter euros any day of the week. Again, thanks for the short format reviews. You know you can write this tight every time, Dale. Less is more, as Stefan proves time and again.

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