Every year, members of American Mensa gather for a long spring weekend of tabletop gaming at an event called Mensa Mind Games. And every year, at the end of the weekend, the participants vote for the top games they played. Votes are quickly tallied, with the top five games declared Mensa Select games for that year. They are allowed to carry the Mensa Select seal, and are generally fantastic games. Here are the winners for 2015.
Castles of Mad King Ludwig by Bezier Games, Inc.
This game caught my eye from the start, probably because my favorite castle, Neuschwanstein Castle, is highlighted on the front. This is a tile-laying game where you are trying to build the biggest, most extravagant castle possible, but you must follow King Ludwig’s desires. Build the castle room by room, but also sell your building services to other players. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.
Dragonwood by Gamewright
Here’s a game for those age 8 and up. Travel around a mythical forest to fight ogres, goblins, fire ants, trolls, and, of course, dragons. Collect cards to earn dice, which you use to battle your adversaries. Great for learning probability, math, and strategic thinking. Coming soon!
Lanterns: The Harvest Festival by Renegade Game Studios and Foxtrot Games
Journey to imperial China in this tile placement game. You are an artisan who is decorating the palace lake with lanterns, trying to gain the most honor without helping your opponents. Plenty of strategy is necessary to win this game. For ages 8 and up.
Letter Tycoon by Squirmy Beast/Breaking Games
Coming in June, this is a word-building card game for the 8 and up set. Create words with your own cards and the community cards together. Establish patents for letters, and then earn money when others use those patents. Keep going until enough of the alphabet has been claimed, and then add up scores and rewards.
Trekking the National Parks by Bink Ink, LLC
Celebrate the national parks of the United States in this appealing family game. Travel from national park to national park, collecting stones and park cards. In the end, the cards and stones count for points. The game also comes with a national park guide, which includes all 59 national parks. It also comes with some more intense cards for a more difficult gameplay experience. Playing this game may make you want to trek the actual national parks!
From the Mensa Mind Games press release:
“We are so pleased that game manufacturers from around the globe find value with our feedback and our Mensa Select designation,” said Chief Judge, Greg Webster. “I can’t wait to see what awesome new titles will compete in 2016!”
Having been to a couple of Mind Games events myself, I can attest to the fact that the weekend is fun, intense, and perfect for bonding with other tabletop game lovers. Non-Mensa members can also attend, though they don’t get to vote for the winners. All participants, however, get to evaluate games and send feedback to the game publishers. This is a perfect chance to encourage some game makers and send others back to the drawing board.
Check out past years’ Mind Games winners!