A while ago I wrote about my excitement upon receiving Project Dreamscape, the first project I had ever backed on Kickstarter. I was pleased with the quality of the components and the beautiful artwork. So after playing it more than half a dozen times what do I think now?
Play is simple, you choose whether or not to a take a Z card at the start of your turn. Then spend the Z cards you have to buy cards from the Dreamscape and add them to your REM stack. For each card you buy you carry out the action of one of the two associated dream types. At this point you may be wondering ‘why would I not choose to take a Z card?’ The number of Z cards you have at the end of the game gives negative points. It is a careful balancing act to make sure you have enough Z cards to afford to buy the dream cards from the Dreamscape, whilst not buying so many you loose loads of points at the end of the game.
There are 11 different dream types and for each game you choose any 8 dream types to include. Each dream type has a different feel, so using different combinations of dream types leads to a different gaming experience.
Some such as Night Terror or Invasive Dreaming interfere with your opponent’s sleep, by causing them to discard a Z card or swapping the top card of their REM stack with a card in the Dreamscape respectively. Although both of these may seem aggressive, they may also benefit your opponent as having less Z cards at the end of the game means they loose less points and Invasive Dreaming lets them use one of the dream types on the new card immediately.
Other dream types allow you to manipulate the Dreamscape. On playing Shifting Dreams you can rearrange the cards in the Dreamscape, this allows you to make the cards you want to buy cheaper. Paradigm Shift allows you to discard up to 2 cards in the Dreamscape, shift all the cards down and replace. This can both be used to discard cards your opponent may need whilst making cards you want to buy cheaper. Whilst Interrupted Sleep lets you flip a card in the Dreamscape, making a Dream Card into a Z card and vice versa, this can be used to prevent your opponent from accessing a particular dream type.
Lucid Dreaming and Empowered Dreaming are both useful in maintaining a continuous dream and thus scoring more points at the end of the game. Lucid Dreaming allows you to save a card for later, whilst Empowered Dreaming lets you take a card from the Dreamscape utilise its power and then discard it.
Finally some dream types allow you to manipulate your own REM stack and Sleep stack. Perfect Respite gains you an extra Z card. Recurring Dream allows you to replay the dream card underneath this one. Collective Dream lets you copy the top dream card of an opponent’s REM stack. One of the hardest cards to use effectively is Floating Free where you pull a dream card from your own dream stack and play it on top, then perform one of its dream types.
Choosing which card to buy involves thinking about what ability you want to be able to use as well as how to best score the most points by having a run of the same dream type in your REM stack. This can lead to some tricky decisions, such as when to stop collecting one dream type and move onto another dream type.
One downside to the game is the first player can end up having more turns than the other players, as the game ends when the Sleep deck is exhausted. As each turn allows you to buy cards and add them to your REM stack, this usually means the first player wins. In our 2 player games, we usually allow the second player to take their turn with the remaining cards in the Dreamscape. However, this probably wouldn’t work for higher player counts, as the Dreamscape would run out of cards, although it would allow players to use cards they have stored on previous turns when using Lucid Dreaming.
Overall, I really enjoy this game as it offers opportunities to plan ahead and also requires you to adapt your strategies to the available cards and what you think your opponent might want (or be able to use against you). The cards included give a good range of abilities which when used together can make great combinations, allowing you to achieve a lot on one turn.