Mayhem Mines Game Review (prepublished version)

Please Take Note: This is a review of the game’s final prototype. The art, game bits, and the rules discussed are all subject to change. The game is being reviewed on the components and the rules provided with the understanding that “what you see is not what you might get” when the game is published. If you like what you read and want to learn more, we encourage you to visit the game’s web page or the Indiegogo campaign page. Now that we have all that disclaimer junk out of the way, on with the review!


The Basics:

  • For ages 8 and up
  • For 2 to 4 players
  • Approximately 15 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Counting & Math
  • Reading
  • Hand/Resource Management

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Dig deep and explore fast to collect as much treasure as possible before the mine collapses!

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek rejected!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

Legends tell of a mine deep in the Dwarf Kingdom that is filled with great riches. An earthquake collapsed the mine entrance many years ago, but adventurers have never stopped looking for a way in. Then, no less than a week ago, the mountains rumbled and a long-lost path into the mine was revealed! As quick as you can, grab your gear and make your way into the darkness! There’s gold to grab and much, much danger to avoid.

Mayhem Mines, by White Bull Games, is comprised of 53 cards. We should note, however, that our set might not be the final count of cards included in the published game. As this is a prepublished game, we will not comment on the component quality, but the proposed artwork is excellent, colorful, and continues to bring smiles to the Child Geeks who play the game.

A Legend Revealed

To set up the game, simply shuffle the deck of cards and deal them out to the playing area, face-down. This represents the mine. Feel free to make the mine in rows or columns or be creative and make them look like a map. Regardless of how the cards are placed, they must always remain face-down and grouped. Be sure to leave room to one side of the playing area for a discard pile.

Once all the cards are dealt, select a first player and begin exploring!

Exploring the Mine

On a player’s turn, they will take one of two actions.

Draw A Mine Card

If the player takes this action, they flip over one card currently in the mine that is face-down. The card is revealed to all the players. Depending on the card, the following will occur.

  • Treasure Card (blue) – The player has found a treasure! The player places the card in their hand and their turn is now over.
  • Event Card (yellow) – The player has triggered an event! The player reads the card out-loud and completes the action. The Event card is then placed in the discard pile and the player’s turn is over.
  • Action Card (green) – The player has learned a valuable trick they can employee on a future turn. The player adds the card to their hand and their turn is now over.
  • Tremor (red) – The player has accidentally set off a chain reaction while digging that causes the entire mountain to shake! The card stays where it was found, face-up. If this is the third Tremor card to be revealed, the game ends. Otherwise, the player’s turn is over.

Play An Action Card

If the player takes this action, they can play one of their Action cards in their hand. The player reads it out-loud and whatever the Action card states is completed. The Action card is then placed in the discard pile. Depending on the Action card played, the player might be able to draw a card from the mine.

Note that a player’s hand can contain no more than 7 cards at the end of their turn. If they have more than 7, they must discard cards to the discard pile until they only have 7 cards remaining.

GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!

When the 3rd and final Tremor card has been revealed, or if a player plays the “Jack the Hammer” Action card when 2 Tremor cards are already revealed, the game immediately ends. Thematically speaking, the mine is collapsing and all the players are rushing out as fast as they can. All the players now add the values noted on their Treasure cards. The player who has the most treasure wins the game!

To learn more about Mayhem Mines, visit the game’s web page or the Indiegogo campaign page.

Prediction

This is an exceptionally easy game. The only level of critical thinking a player needs to do on their turn is deciding if they want to play an Action card or not. Everything else is random and doesn’t require anything more than selecting a card on the table.

For the Child Geeks, this won’t be a problem. The excitement and mystery of what each card might or might not be will keep them engaged. I predict the game’s level of excitement will build and grow as more and more Tremor cards are revealed and fewer cards are available to select. Gamer Geeks are going to dislike this game immensely because there is no depth to it and requires next to zero brain activity to play. The Parent Geeks, I’m guessing, are going to dislike it when played with just their peer group, but will enjoy the game because of how easy it is to play with the family.

Teaching the game is not hard. I simply told players that they need to collect treasure before the mine collapses. The only question I was ever asked after I explained the game was, “Is that it?” Yes, that’s it.

And so, as I reset the cards for my little geek to play with a few Parent Geeks and myself, I asked the table their thoughts on the game so far.

“This is a very simple game. Very. Simple.” ~ Parent Geek

“All the treasure will be mine! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”~ Liam (age 8)

Let’s get the game going and start digging! Perhaps we’ll discover a wonderful game or just plain old dirt.

Final Word

Yep, I was right.

The Child Geeks LOVED this game. They laughed when a card impacted another player negatively and roared in mock frustration when bad luck visited them. The game’s level of intensity increased exponentially whenever a Tremor card was revealed and there was much rejoicing or pouty faces when the final points were counted. The sting of a loss was brief because a new game could be set up in less than a minute, which was often the case. Note that the game does require the player to be able to read the cards. For those Child Geeks who cannot read, this will make the game very hard to play if they want to play without help. My 5-year-old tried and became frustrated after a few rounds because he was always asking me what cards meant or said. For my 8-year-old, no problems whatsoever.

The Parent Geeks didn’t care or want to play this game with just their peer group. They found it to be way too simple and not at all engaging. Their feelings about it did a quick reverse when they played the game with their little geeks. Looks of  boredom miraculously turned to smiles of joy when they explored the mine with their children. Great shouts of “OH NO!” and “YES! TREASURE!” bounded off the walls and echoed down my hallway as cards were revealed by the players. All the Parent Geeks, be they gamers or non-gamers, decided this was not only a family game, but required a family to truly enjoy it.

Gamer Geeks listened to the game description, the rules, and laughed. They had no interest in the game. Only one Gamer Geek sat down with me to play it. They gave it their full attention, and once the game was over, they simply said “never again”.

My little geek hesitates for just a moment before revealing a card in the mine

Gamer Geeks, this is a very simple game. Way too simple for you, in fact. This is not a game intended to be played by the elitists or those who look for depth and strategy in their game play.

Parent Geeks, as noted, this is not a game that was well received by your peer group when played with just adults. When played with the family, especially the little geeks, the game was an excellent time. The game is not demanding and plays fast. Best of all, the game is highly portable and quick to set up and play. Perfect for those times when the family wants to play a quick game where no player, regardless of skill or ability, has an advantage over the other.

Child Geeks, your peer group enjoyed this game the most. Every card turned over is a possible treasure, but even the treasure you find could be easily lost or be taken by another player. The point of the game is to have fun in a way that is easy. Draw a card, see what happens, and laugh at the result. And laugh you will.

Mayhem Mines is not trying to be a deep game, nor is it trying to challenge the player’s mind. Choices in the game are broken down to draw or play a card. The only time a player really needs to put some serious thought into the game is when they have too many cards and must discard down to 7. The challenge here is that every card a player keeps in their hand is a good one, being either points or actions that allow the player to obtain more points.

The Gamer Geek in me rolls my eyes in a ridiculously over-the-top sarcastic fashion at this type of game play. The Parent Geek in me, however, couldn’t be more pleased. What we have here is a game that focuses on choice and consequences that is not heavy-handed about it. I saw my little geeks take their time when they selected a card from the mine and put some serious thought on what Action cards they should play. This behavior was not observed when playing with adults because they know there are no consequences and any decisions made have an exceedingly limited or random return. The Child Geeks didn’t care and loved every minute of it. Clearly, this game was meant for a younger audience or those who play with a younger audience. Works brilliantly with the Child Geeks, but crashes for the adults.

I should also point out that the game can be played without a large table surface. While the game set up does call for the players to deal out the cards face-down, this is really only done for two reasons. First, it is visually much more interesting and second, it gives the player the illusion of choice. But since every card drawn is random, you can simply put all the cards in a single stack and the same game play is provided. Random is random, after all, and putting out multiple cards to choose from versus just a deck of cards to draw from provides the same level of randomness.

I play games to be engaged and challenged. I want to think through my moves, develop strategies, and then do all I can to win within the defined rules using different tactics. I crave game depth, in other words. Mayhem Mines, despite being about a deep mine, is as about as deep as Rebecca Black’s Friday song. And yet, I also want to play games with my little geeks. The games I look to play on my own time are usually way too much for them to handle. Mayhem Mines is a game they can play and a game I can play with them without dumbing myself down or holding back. While not engaging or deep, the amount of joy I get from playing it with my children out does any negatives I care to throw at it.

Is the game worth your while? That depends on who is at your gaming table. For the Child Geeks, this is a winner. For anyone out of grade school, this game will quickly have diminishing returns. If you are looking for a game that is easy to play with little geeks and fast to set up, than Mayhem Mines is for you. Just don’t expect to find any hidden gems while playing it. It is what it appears to be at the surface and nothing more.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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