Full disclosure: A review copy of TEAM3 GREEN was provided by Brain Games.
Brain Games came out swinging, this year. I’ve got somewhere in the neighborhood of five new titles releasing from them in the back half of 2019, and so for a hot minute in the upcoming weeks, I’ll be talking about each of them in turn. Sadly, none of them are ICECOOL3, but, I can dream. The first one is going to be TEAM3 GREEN, so, let’s dive right into that.
In TEAM3 GREEN, you play as a cooperative team trying to build some structures. That seems super easy, right? Naturally, there wouldn’t be much of a game if that’s all there was, so let’s dig in a bit more and find out what makes this game special.
Setup isn’t too bad. Set out all the pieces:
Give each player a role:
From left to right, the roles are:
More on what those do later. Choose a level and shuffle up the cards for that level:
Give the stack to the Architect. Once you’ve done that, you’re basically ready to start!
So, the game itself is simple. Build the structure pictured on the cards. What’s that, you say? That’s not even remotely difficult? Fine. Let’s pick it up a bit and give each player a unique ability:
- Architect: Only you may look at the card. The catch is you are not allowed to speak or point at any blocks.
- Supervisor: You cannot look at the cards or touch the blocks. That’s it. You can talk freely.
- Builder: Only you may touch the blocks. The catch is that you must keep your eyes closed at all times.
Let’s see how you get along, now. Set a three-minute timer. If you finish the structure, take it as a point; if not, set it aside as a failure. Pass all the roles to the left and start again!
The game ends when you score enough points (the number of stars on the deck + the number of players) or when you fail as many Blueprints as you have players. Be careful!
Mind Merge Mini-Expansion
Too easy? Want to mix it up? Try the Mind Merge! You’ll need 5 players for this. Have the Builder sit so that they have a pair of players to their left and right, and use the black-backed Mind Merge cards:
They seem pretty easy, right? Well, now there are two construction lines and the Builder is in charge of both of them! Give each Architect a card and have each Supervisor interpret. There aren’t rounds; if you can complete both structures in 3 minutes, you win! Each structure only uses one set of pieces, max.
If you want, you can also play competitively with 6+ players. Have each Architect use the same Level 1 Card, and whichever team completes it first gains a point! The first team to gain 6 points wins the game!
You can integrate it with TEAM3 Pink (see next week’s review) to allow for 4 Teams all using a Level 1 Card or 2 Teams all using any level Construction Card. Get wild!
Player Count Differences
I’m going to be real, either play this with 3 players or 6 players (or 5, if you’re playing Mind Merge). Otherwise, it’s just X players watching while other people actively participate, and that’s not … I mean, it’s fun to watch, but it’s more fun to play? I can’t see a lot of players being enthusiastic about just kinda chilling out while other people play the game. I mean, somewhat sarcastically, I suppose it supports an infinite number of players provided some players are willing to sit out every round, right? It’s flippant, but effective. But I understand; having “3 / 6 Players (or 5 with the Mini-Expansion)” is a really strange player count to put on a box. Personally, I’m here for cooperative games, so I’m going to generally prefer playing this at 3 players. You can play it with 12 people if you get TEAM3 Pink, though, so, that’s also worth considering (provided you only use L1 Cards).
- Stop calling the pieces by their colors. Everyone does that. It’s not particularly helpful, since the person you’re talking to can’t see them. That said, it is pretty funny, so I generally think it is a good idea to do it every now and then. I mean, it’s not that big of a time-waster.
- As the Builder, I usually just try putting pieces in places while they’re telling me what to do. Rotating and moving pieces around makes it really easy for the Supervisor to say “stop!” or something to indicate that it’s in the right place. If not, it’s a bit harder to get the Builder to do the right thing, as the Supervisor goes. Plus, players tend to / need to build a firm foundation, so you can usually assume that the next piece you play is supported by one of the previous pieces you played. Or it goes adjacent to one.
- As the Supervisor, I try to make sure that my instructions are clear and focus on translations or rotations. There’s not much worse you can do than calling colors or telling people “flip it” or “rotate it”, rather than making sure that they understand what you’re saying. Be direct, but also, be clear? Remember, they can’t see any of the pieces, so they’re literally depending on you to be clear about translating instructions.
- As the Architect, I recommend learning your hand signs. You should have clear and consistent signs for every piece. Don’t feel bad about getting your arms and shoulders into the game. Really just, kinda, work the whole body to make those hand signs work.
- If you’re trying to Mind Merge, don’t try to shout over the other player. You only win if everyone wins, don’t forget; you’re in a hurry, yes, but you need to make sure that both sides get what they want. And you’re the only person who can talk, so that’s critical.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- The blocks are really nice quality. They have a nice weight to them, even if one of them being black means that I have to use the white tablecloth for all my photos (which is a harder one to edit). I still appreciate it!
- It’s a very colorful game. I mean, the box is a very bold and catchy color; the blocks are, too. I wonder what motivated them to go with pink and green as the colors? Just curious.
- I appreciate that it has a cooperative and a competitive component. And even the competitive element is just competing along the cooperative track! I really like that, personally.
- Hoo whee it’s pretty tough. I still don’t think I’ve ever successfully built a Level 3. Maybe I never will?
- You almost need a manual to get the game back into the box. Like, everything fits, but not in a consistent way. There’s no insert to protect the cards, the pieces have no specific place; everything just kind of gets dumped inside, which isn’t particularly great. It’s especially odd given that their other inserts are generally very good, like Farm Rescue.
- The 4- / 5-player versions are not particularly my cup of tea, unless you like sitting out. I really almost wish they just hadn’t mentioned them as options; they seem … odd. That said, 5-player Mind Merge is good, because everyone has something to do. It’s a more explicit version of my problem with large-scale games of Codenames; a few players just sit around and have nothing to do while the game is played.
Overall: 8 / 10
Overall, I think TEAM3 GREEN is pretty great! It’s a bit hard to seat, since it really plays best with 3, 5, or 6, but beyond that I think it’s a blast! I generally like games where you build things, anyways, and building things on a timer is normally right up my alley. Add in the extra constraints of not being able to see or talk and you’ve got an interesting building game that the entire family can enjoy (as makes sense, coming from Brain Games). I think the included mini-expansion is a nice addition, as well, since it makes the game different (but not necessarily harder, unlike next week’s review). I particularly appreciate that it plays well (and cooperatively) at 3, which is notoriously one of the hardest numbers to seat well in board games (second only to 5 or 6, which, hey, look, this game also works for). The hard part is communication, but you can figure that out. Just, do yourself a favor; don’t do things the Hanabi way and try to powergame it; let some of the communication details work themselves out while you’re learning to play! That’s just my take, though. If you’re looking for a fun cooperative game that really stacks up to other real-time games, though, I’d recommend the TEAM3 series, especially GREEN! It’s been very fun.