Continuing the series of party game reviews, I’m taking a look at Medium, the mind-reading game from Greater Than Games. Medium, like so many of the best party games, is based around a simple concept: How well do you know the person sitting next to you? Can you guess what they’re thinking? It’s quick, easy, and a lot of fun.
One degree of separation
Medium’s ‘one simple trick to keep you playing’ is associating words with other words. Play goes around the table with one person turning to the person to their left. Each chooses a card from their hand and reads it out loud. The cards have a single word on them. Both people then access their latent psychic abilities to come up with a word that links the two words on the cards. Not just any word mind you. The same word.
Let’s pretend that you and I are playing, dear reader. You chose a card with ‘screen’ on it, and mine says ‘refrigerator’. We have a think, link our hive mind, and both simultaneously shout “Door“. As in ‘screen door’ and refrigerators have doors. So that’s the obvious answer, right? Right!?
What’s that? You didn’t say ‘door’? You said ‘electricity’? Oh for fluff’s sake…
When that situation happens, you get a second bite at the cherry, but this time the words to link are the words you just said. In this instance, we’ve got to go again, but this time trying to link ‘door’ and ‘electricity’. If we get it this time, we still get points, just not as many. If we fail we get one more try with the third set of words for even fewer points. Fail that, and it’s a big fat zero, and definitely your partner’s fault for not thinking the right way.
Sharing is caring
The scoring in Medium fits in with the theme of working together, and you’ll do well if you manage to work with both your neighbours. Remember, that as well as having someone on your left, you’re also someone else’s ‘player on your left’. When you get a matching word you take a score token from the pile in the middle of the table, the value of which is based on how many attempts it took you. The score token sits between you and your neighbour.
When you come to do final scoring at the end of the game, you total up the points on both sides of you. So, mind-meld with both neighbours, you’re going to do well.
I like it when games make use of the concept of working with your neighbours, just like Between Two Cities, or the follow-up, Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig. It’s a nice thing to make scoring dependent on working with two different people, and it really encourages teamwork and a mutual want to do well.
Medium ticks all the boxes to make it a great party game. It’s easy to explain, you can play with anyone (language-dependent), and most importantly, it’s a lot of fun. Even though there are only two people playing in each turn, it doesn’t feel like there’s any downtime. That’s thanks mostly to just how engaging and interactive the game is. The people around the table not taking part in a turn are usually the noisiest infact. It’s common to hear “Ooh I’ve got a good one”, “This is so obvious!”, and other things like that when the words are read out. It’s just as common to hear “Oh, that’s not what I thought at all”, when the answers are read out.
I think the designers must have realised the same during development, as there are some extra ‘ESP’ cards you can use in the game as an optional addon, one of which lets you join in with another pair’s turn, and score points at the same time!
The only problem I’ve found is when you play with a large player count. We played with seven people at my local group’s Christmas party, and the number of cards used in the game scales with the player count. It’s good in a way because it means everyone always gets roughly the same number of turns, regardless of the number of people around the table. On the flip side though, when you play with seven of eight players, the game can take a long time to get to the end of. You may want to house rule it to limit the number of turns so that it doesn’t outstay its welcome.
Other than that, Medium is a great addition to any family’s game collection and comes highly recommended.
You can buy this game from my retail partner, Kienda. Remember to sign-up for your account at kienda.co.uk/punchboard for a 5% discount on your first order of £60 or more.
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Design: Danielle Deley, Lindsey Sherwood, Nathan Thornton
Publisher: Greater Than Games
Art: Sarah Kelly
Playing time: 30-60 mins