This week, I returned to the cooperative genre of board games with the game Mental Blocks. A group of 2 to 9 players (we played with 6) each has a card that only they can see showing either a sideview of colored blocks or a black-and-white view of a corner of a structure, then they must use foam blocks to build a structure that satisfies all the images that the players have. The rounds are limited by time, which was 9 minutes for 6 players, but after a couple failed rounds, our group simply tried to succeed AT ALL. Once we figured out a good strategy, we managed to start solving puzzles in under a minute. Luckily, the game includes ways to change the difficulty of the puzzles. In addition to a set of “Challenging” puzzles, there are restriction and glitch cards that give players additional rules, such as being unable to speak or touch foam blocks of a certain size, shape, or color. By the time class concluded, we had found a difficulty that worked well for us (around a 50% win rate).
The hardest part, by far, was trying to build what was on your card while not ruining what somebody else had built or needed to build. In one instance, another player and I both had blue blocks on our cards but another had zero blue, so we were trying to build this structure in a way that showed blue but also hid it from a single side. Another time, I swore a shape looked one way on my card but everybody else knew it couldn’t physically be shaped like I said. In our efforts to complete our objective right, we had to slow down and build the shape together or we would build something that couldn’t be correct and refuse to let others touch it.
Thinking about that in terms of leadership, one could say the exact same thing about projects where everybody has different interpretations of the same goal. 5 different people could be united under the same cause, but because they are 5 minds who each have their own vision of how that goal will be achieved, they are also 5 people competing to realize their individual dream. A great leader is somebody who includes everybody’s perspectives, crafting a plan that unites everybody’s ideas rather then letting them be until they inevitably butt heads.
I believe my brother would very much like playing Mental Blocks. He and I have fantastic communication and love playing games together that challenge that. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, Overcooked, and so on. Since the game does work with a minimum of 2 players, I’d like to see how he and I fair against the game’s challenges and glitches. Mental Blocks is a very simply premise, but it turns out to be a really cognitively challenging game that I highly recommend.