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Mixed Company Kickstarter Preview

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Publisher: Mixed Company Games
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 3-6
Ages: 10+
Playing Time: 15-30 min

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

WARNING: This is a preview of Mixed Company. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.

I still remember when my wife and I got the first iPhone in 2007. 

We sat on the couch with our new phones in hand and oohed and ahhed at all of the technological advancements. But then a strange thing happened--my wife texted me. I mean, she was sitting right next to me and she could have just as easily said "hi" as it was to text it. But even with seeing the absurdity of the situation, I texted her back. And back-and-forth we went for hours, our fingers busily tapping the screen and faces illuminated by the glow of the phones, but otherwise in silence. We might as well been a hundred miles away from one another. 

Fast forward 12 years and we don't have to worry about having text conversations while sitting in the same room, but we now must be mindful of how our phones can wedge themselves between us--the luminescence on our face blinding us from the reality of the present --and set boundaries to diminish their role in our interactions with each other and during our game nights with friends.

And I am certain that we're not the only ones. I have heard countless stories of gaming groups instilling "no phones at the table" rules for that exact reason.

Obviously, phones are not inherently bad and no one can deny the convenience they provide, but I shudder to think of all the interactions, conversations, and just enjoyment of being completely present with my friends and family that I missed because I was checking a score, or reading a news story, or tethered to any other mindless task on my phone. And again, I am certain that I am not the only one. 

My first interaction with Mixed Company was at TokenCon, and that 15-30 minutes was completely phone free. I had the opportunity to play it again at BGG Spring, and again, no phones in site. Mixed Company was a game that demanded your complete and uninterrupted attention, as its primary mechanism is the thing that we too often give away by burying our noses into our phones--real conversation.

Mixed Company is the antithesis of our technology-driven world, having its participants actively engage in conversation and develop important social skills through a clever and unique game.

It requires conversation, and active listening, and argument construction. Points and counter points, agreeing and disagreeing, citing sources and personal points of view--it's like the debate class we all needed disguised as a game.

If your group spends its "filler" time on their phones and you're looking for something engaging to break this habit, look at Mixed Company.

If family time has devolved into everyone being in the same room, but all looking at their individual phones, look into Mixed Company to spark a lively conversation (just be certain to remove the NSFW cards).

Need to practice active listening, making eye contact when you speak, or constructing arguments without getting argumentative? Get Mixed Company and practice within the friendly confines of your own home.

I don't think that Mixed Company is going to be for everyone, but I do think everyone could benefit from it. 


Setup and Gameplay:
Players begin by taking six voting cards (three "yes," two "no," and one "veto"), two trophy cards, three challenge cards, and three action cards.

The players begin by selecting the deck of question cards that wish to play--green-bordered card topics are suitable for all ages, blue-bordered cards are designed for players 16+, and the pink-bordered cards are NSFW.

Once the deck, or mixture of decks, is selected and shuffled, each player is dealt three question cards. From these three cards, the players will select one for group consideration and place it in the middle of the table for a group vote. The remaining two cards in the player's hand are discarded. There will always be 6 topics from which players will choose. If you are playing with less than 6 players, draw a number cards from the top of the topic deck until the topic selection pool is 6.

Once all players have submitted a topic for consideration, all players will secretly vote on the topic(s) that they would like/dislike to discuss by placing a voting card in front of their question preference. Playing the veto card automatically removes the questions from consideration regardless of other Yes votes. Yes votes act as +1 and No votes -1 and the three questions with the most votes become the topics for the conversation phase of the game. The game consists of three rounds, with one topic per. The question to receive the third most votes is first to be discussed, second place second, and the question receiving the most votes is used in the third and final round.

Prior to the start of the questions round, players can play one of their challenge cards on an opponent. The challenge cards establish certain conditions for the recipient that may make their conversation points a little more challenging, such as prohibiting the use of a certain word, or making the argument sound like a research paper with stats and references.

After the question is known and challenge cards are assigned to opponents, players enter the conversation phase. During the conversation phase, players have 10 minutes to discuss the question from their perspectives, keeping in mind the conditions of the challenge card they received for that round. While players are conversing, they may play one of the three action cards. Action cards are an additional condition for the receiving player that require the player to provide additional detail, relate to a source, or provide a counter-argument.

Once the 10 minutes are up (or if the conversation reached a natural conclusion prior to 10 minutes), add trophies (victory points). First, if a player was able to successfully meet the requirements of a challenge card, it is kept as one point. Next, players will give trophies to their opponents for criteria such as "best new perspective".

Once the trophies for the round are awarded, the timer is reset, the question card moves to the next topic, challenge cards are assigned, and play continues. After the three rounds, players count their trophies and the player with the most wins.

Theme and Mechanics:
The theme is various conversation topics and the mechanisms are simple voting.

Artwork and Components:
The artwork and components (i.e. cards) are bright and easy to read. No concerns with color choice and/or quality. 

The Good:
  • Requires real conversation and active participation
  • Reinforces good social skills (e.g. active listening, eye contact, etc.)
  • Keeps players off their phones 
  • The challenge cards keep things fresh
  • It's a text-on-a-card voting game, but not like every other text-on-a-card voting game
The Meh:
  • 10 minutes per round can seem a little long, especially with younger players. Don't be afraid to adjust as needed.
  • The challenge cards can be, well, challenging and maybe too challenging at times. Try talking about your opinions without being able to use the word "I".  
  • Some of the topics are serious and will have serious opinions. Know your audience. 
  • This will push some people out of their comfort zone, and even though it would push them in a good way, it's not your job to do the pushing if they don't want it. Again, know your audience.
Final Thoughts:
Mixed Company isn't your typical card-on-text voting game. In fact, Mixed Company isn't your typical game.

But what it does, and what it creates, can be far more valuable than chucking dice or moving a meeple. It creates interaction. It requires player's presence. It reminds us that as humans, even the ones that self-identify as misanthropes, we need real social interaction. And, if only briefly, it gets us off our phones.  

Mixed Company may or may not be for you--but you, me, everyone--could benefit from the experience it provides.

Players Who Like: Good old-fashioned conversation with a twist.

Check out Mixed Company on:

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/267737/mixed-company   https://www.mixed.company/   https://www.facebook.com/MixYourCompany/   https://twitter.com/mixyourcompany   https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mixed-company/mixed-company-a-conversationally-engaging-card-game 

Live on KICKSTARTER now! Campaign ends August 8, 2019.

Nick Shipley - Reviewer

Nick is a compliance consultant by day, a board gamer at night, and a husband and father always. When he is not bringing a game to the table, he is running (most often to or from his kids) or watching the New York Yankees. Nick lives in Oklahoma.

See Nick's reviews HERE.

Mixed Company Kickstarter Preview Mixed Company Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by Nick Shipley on June 14, 2019 Rating: 5

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