MYnd Kraft by Tharini Rajamohan—Game Review

What languages are you fluent in? I’m a native English speaker and you clearly understand English well-enough to read this blog. But perhaps you also speak Spanish or Japanese or a couple of European languages. There are some who argue that mathematics is the universal language. But if you’re a computer geek of any sort then I imagine that when I asked my first question you started listing off anything from C++ to Python or from JavaScript to Perl. Even bloggers may be conjuring up rows of PHP or CSS. I can tell you that as a finance professional by day that VBA has been extremely useful on more than one occasion.

So what’s my point in all this? Language is important. All language. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking linguistics or computer programming languages. But while understand computer language may have been once relegated to the “IT nerds” down the hall, it is becoming more and more prevalent. Many bloggers can troubleshoot their websites when a plugin is misbehaving or if they want to tweak a theme to match their preferred color scheme. Lazy financial analysts try to automate mundane tasks in Excel with macros. Hey, I do it all the time! No sense in doing something manually more than once, right?

With knowledge of basic programming becoming ubiquitous it’s important that we get exposure as early possible. MYnd Kraft, a new card game by Tharini Rajamohan, can help.

What is MYnd Kraft?

MYnd Kraft by Tharini Rajamohan

MYnd Kraft by Tharini Rajamohan

MYnd Kraft is a card game for 2-7 players ages 7 and up. It bills itself as a mashup of games like UNO, Scrabble, and even Poker. But with a programming theme in mind. The game has 72 number cards and 36 action cards. These two decks combined give you the ability to play up to seven different games:

  • EZY CODR (2-6 players; 7+ yrs)
  • SPEEDY MONSTER (2-4 players; 7+ yrs)
  • MEMRY FLIPOTHON (2-4 players; 7+ yrs)
  • DECODE (2-4 players; 11+ yrs)
  • CODR POKR MATCH (4-7 players; 11+ yrs)
  • CODR LEAGUE – TEAM GAME (4-6 players, in teams of 2; 11+ yrs)
  • COBBLE THE CODE (2-6 players; 11+ yrs)

The greatest part about being able to play these seven different games is that you don’t have to remove or add any cards to switch from one game to another. You should remove the advanced cards from the action deck if you want simpler game play but that is the only time you would do so.

Each of the seven games has its own set of rules. The simplest among them is EZY CODR. Players take turns flipping over one action card and solving it with number cards from their hand. If they cannot solve it then the play passes to the next player. If no player can solve this card it is moved to the bottom of the action deck. A solved card is moved to the player’s score pile along with any number cards that were used to solve it. At the end of the game these cards are scored and the player with the most points wins.

Each subsequent game builds on this basic concept. However, the play style of each game is distinct enough to make it feel unique. I have linked to the game’s website at the end of this review where you can learn exactly how the game works. Please check it out.

MYnd Kraft by Tharini Rajamohan

This action card is solved because the logic works. A green 1 fits the color requirement of yellow or green and it is less than 4. A player would score 3 points with this solution.

MYnd Kraft by Tharini Rajamohan

This action card is solved because the function is true. Read left to right, the blue 4 is greater than the red 2 which is greater than the green 1. This solution is 6 points!

Who Is This Game For?

This game is aimed at ages 7 and up and I think that’s an ideal range. Some of the more complex games are targeted at a minimum age of 11 but I’d wager a bet that younger kids could get the concepts too. Particularly if they’re not new to gaming. A word of caution, MYnd Kraft will not have your children walking away from the game table with their heads filled full of complex algorithms or be able to sit down and write a computer program. I don’t know that any game could do that. Furthermore, that is not the game’s goal. However, it will definitely give them exposure to fundamental coding principles. This is where the game excels: it’s a useful analog tool to help young coders grasp abstract concepts so they can apply those concepts in a digital environment.

Parents and teachers alike will want this game if they are at all involved STEM. The game is fun even outside of the coding context and it’s likely that you could play it with children without telling them it’s technically an educational game and they’d be none the wiser. However, this game’s mission is to teach fundamental concepts (Boolean Logic, Conditional Statements, Functions, etc) and this is where the game excels the most.

Children will enjoy playing MYnd Kraft for its own sake and parents will enjoy playing it with them. My wife and I would probably like playing the game with casual gamer friends due to its being so easy to teach. But mostly we’ll reserve this one for playing with the kids.

Pros

  • Light-medium game with simple-to-learn rules
  • Not language dependent; intuitive graphics
  • Enjoyable by kids/students without adult supervision once they’ve learned the game
  • The seven different play types touch on a wide variety of game mechanics ranging from action to tile placement
  • Creative children and parents/mentors will be able to create several of their own game variants using the concepts they learn with this game
    • In fact, if you create something and submit it to the publisher, they will review your submission and play test it and if it proves viable, they will include it as another sub-game and name it after you! That’s motivation!

Cons

  • Narrow audience, it plays similar to UNO or Phase 10
  • Some will find the seven different games less fulfilling than if the game had incorporated all of its elements into a more robust single game
  • Limited player interaction (no trading or negotiation…players may do some bluffing but it would be mostly table talk)

Final Thoughts

This review is based on a prototype copy of MYnd Kraft by Tharini Rajamohan that she provided to me in anticipation of the Kickstarter launch on August 27th. Therefore, any art and graphics are subject to change and the quality of this copy is not indicative of final production. Is this game a must have? Probably not. By itself, it’s not enough to teach coding. All in all, it is a fun game. We enjoyed it a lot and will continue playing it regularly. Is it a valuable tool to use in conjunction with other books and resources? Absolutely! It may, in fact, even help you identify children with a knack for programming or computation.

We have four children. Our youngest is too young to think much beyond tomorrow where the future is concerned. But the other three have told us their current aspirations for adulthood. One wants to be veterinarian, one wants to be an aerospace engineer, and the other wants to be an “inventor”. The potential aerospace engineer is the one who regards this game the most fondly. She’s a self-professed nerd and loves math. When she was learning this game she was quick to “get it”. The others mostly regard the game as a pretty good filler and don’t say no to a round whenever it gets suggested.

MYnd Kraft:

  • 2-7 Players
  • 15-45 Minutes
  • Ages 7+
  • Designed by Tharini Rajamohan
  • Self-Published

More Resources:

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