DISCLAIMER: The opinions, ratings, and reviews stated in this document and related webpages are the sole personal opinions of Wei-Hwa Huang and Wei-Hwa Huang alone. Wei-Hwa Huang does not speak for the more than 200 participants on the Mensa Mind Games selection panel. This is not an official site of Mensa Mind Games or Mensa Select, although the statements on which games are winners of Mensa Select are factually correct. Mensa Mind Games and Mensa Select are registered trademarks of American Mensa.
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IntroductionWei-Hwa's report and reviews of the games at Mensa Mind Games in Portland, Oregon, in the year 2006. I might have played the games at that event. Sometimes I played the games at other gatherings. Each game has some photos, followed by a paragraph of description, some ratings, and a paragraph of commentary.
I played most of these games in 35 hours, probably the same amount of time it took me to type all this out. I've rated each game with three values from 1 to 10: replay value (how often could I play it?), fun factor (how often do I want to play it?), and worth buying (how badly do I want to own my own copy? are there any cool bits?).
An asterisk (*) represents a winner of the Mensa Select Award.
Addendum (2006-06-27): I strongly believe that a review should be an honest, subjective viewpoint, and it does a disservice to readers to claim to be objective or fair, since those goals are completely unattainable. People who read my reviews (or any reviews) should be cognizant of that fact. I believe I share that opinion with the great film critic Roger Ebert, although at this moment I'm unable to find a good citation to hyperlink to.
The "Worth Buying" rating is based on my assessment of the game's quality, originality, and how easy it is to duplicate the experience with components found around the house. My text reviews tend to lean towards the game experience, which I find to be more important than discussions of the components, especially since game components can often get revised or changed. What this means is that since the components can often be improved in later editions of the game, you should take that "Worth Buying" number with a grain of salt, especially if the rating is low.
Overall ImpressionsI wasn't particularly impressed with any of the games that were there. (Perhaps it is because my standards have been raised by one game I've been playing a lot in the meantime.) On the other hand, there weren't nearly as many utterly horrible games this year either.
What there were were a lot of "mixed feeling" games -- for example, games where I really like one part of the game but didn't care for another part. Or games where I can imagine a group where I would enjoy playing the game with and another group I would hate playing the game with. Or games that I would love to play or hate to own, or vice versa. Strange.
Three of the winners were (pure) abstract strategy games, which seems surprisingly high to me. But then again, it's quite understandable, considering that there were pretty much no adult Family Strategy games submitted this year.
I've created a new category, "Strategy Dice Games". I was always somewhat uncomfortable with the dice-heavy strategy games where the board, if there is one, is just a scoreboard. Note that these are used for games where rolling dice is the primary mechanic (and not just the usage of dice).
The "electorate" was about the same. I think perhaps Mind Games has stabilized in the sort of people it attracts. Although I definitely still see "judges" who play a game for five minutes, form an unshakable opinion, and then just assume that the rest of the game is going to be like the first five minutes, I think the rest of us devoted game critics are starting to increase. Maybe I'm being overly optimistic.