Project Dreamscape, Designed by Sarah & Will Reed, Artwork by Julie Okahara, Produced by Undine Studios
Reviewed by Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions
What are the recommendations for this game?
Number of players: 1-4 (due to a solo play variant -which I personally like)
Time of game: 30 minutes (our first game took around one hour due to learning the rules)
Age recommendation: 10 years and up
The back story: You see in the news that Scientists have developed a machine that will let people's dreams become real. You will use a card (Z card) to form a stack of Deep Sleep (this is your currency) and you spend it on REM (cards from the Dreamscape) that is placed in one of five spaces alongside the Sleep Deck (deck of cards stacked in one pile).
What comes in the game? (Note: Basing this off the retail version copy)
52 Sleep Deck Cards
5 Z Shield Tokens
2 Reference Cards
1 Active Participant Token
54 Card Expansion Deck (Marked with 3 Horizontal Lines -one above another- called the Vent symbol)
What is the end game objective? What am I striving for?
You want to purchase Sleep Cards on the Dreamscape to take actions and allow for the most matches of symbols. Each card will have two symbols on it, and matches of 2 or more score points. All players total these points at the end, and the one with the most points wins!
How do I set the game up?
Each person takes one card and flips it to the Z coin side, to start their Deep Sleep Stack (Currency). Beside it they will place the cards they acquire on their turn, to form the REM stack. These cards will stay in the order in which they are placed, until such time that an effect makes it change. You will have the Sleep Deck in one stack, and then draw 5 cards to placed in a row beside the deck with the corresponding coins below them indicating cost. To the left of the Sleep Deck will be the discard pile for both Z cards and Sleep cards. Now you are ready to play.
Special Note: This took into account that we were playing the expansion as well. With the expansion you will switch out base symbol types (all with that symbol) with variant symbol types (all of that symbol).
Special Note: As an unofficial variant you could play with all the card types (which we also did). By switching out you allow for more varied play.
Now to play:
The first player is the one who can first recall and describe a recent (interesting) dream. With this you will have the option to take one card (you don't have to) with the Z coin side facing up, to add to your currency.
Special Note: Z coin cards at the end are minus one point for each at end game scoring. Yes, they will help you buy more cards during your turn throughout the game, but take into account what will happen in the end.
You then will tap, or turn your Z cards as you spend them on Dream cards in the Dreamscape (positions 5 through 1 going from left to right). When you buy a card, you choose one of the two abilities on it to activate, and when the ability resolves you add it to your REM stack (the stack where symbols matching in order will score points).
Special Note: You will be able to orientate (top to bottom, bottom to top, not flipping the card over to its other side) to match symbols (adjacent in order if laying side by side), but you can NEVER switch the card order unless an ability from a card in play tells you to do so.
Once you have spent your Z, or you cannot afford anymore cards, you declare your turn to be over. Any gaps on the Dreamscape, shift down to the lowest possible position and then draw as needed to refill all 5 positions. You always have to buy at least one card, but you don't have to buy anymore than that.
When does the game end?
The game ends when the Dream deck can no longer supply cards to all 5 of the Dreamscape positions. You will not add cards from the discard deck.
How does the matching symbols work for scoring?
At the end of the game, you look at your row of REM cards and find your strings of matching symbols at both the top and bottom of the card. At any time prior to scoring, you can change the orientation of the card to adjust which symbol is at the top and which is at the bottom. This must be finalized before you start scoring your deck.
For matching adjacent symbols (we will call these groups)
group of 2 =2 points
group of 3= 4 points
group of 4 = 6 points
group of 5 = 8 points
group of 6 = 10 points
group of 7 = 13 points
group of 8 = 16 points
group of 9 = 20 points
group of 10 = 24 points
group of 11 = 29 points
group of 12 = 34 points
group of 13 = 40 points
and on page 14 a note that it is possible playing with the variant to achieve a...
group of 14 = 46 points
You will add up the points for all the groups (top and bottom) and with your total you will subtract 1 point for each Z coin card (Deep Sleep card)
Are there any variations for this game?
There is a solo play variant that allows a scale to judge yourself against point wise. The scale gives you different results (better the higher you go). The range for each is:
Under 15 points
55 and higher points for the best outcome
With this variant, you don't shift the cards on the Dreamscape, you discard them. You will choose the order of the discard. Then fill the positions as usual, turn the Z cards face up. The solo game is over if you cannot refill the Dreamscape from the Dream deck. You total your points per usual rules.
Some game results:
Our games so far have us wanting to play more. The first game we had to cut short due to a lunch break, but in the last declared turn we had a final score of 17 to 7 (my wife Stephanie versus myself). We played another game where I won 14 to 10, so we have been able to have close games. The latest game my wife and I played she won 39 to 33.
This game has gone into our rotation of two player favorites, for being a quick learn, and really solid head to head mechanics. The game plays as a continual threat to making the most of your card matches. Will your opponent mess up your stack by removing the top card? Will your opponent make you lose one of your currency cards, inhibiting your purchases for future turns. You will have ways to copy abilities, and in other cases if you cannot perform an ability you will just ignore it.
The game makes for strategic decisions through how you use your cards and the timing of the placement. You may not get the cards you need to rearrange cards in your stack (don't have enough Z currency or enough time). Maybe you just focus on your stack, at the expense of offensive play against your opponent. You must decide, as the elements of luck will be in what cards come up from the Sleep Deck.
In conclusion, players who enjoy working on matched sets, who love using abilities to mess with other players, who enjoy colorful playful art, and who enjoy card manipulation, will find this game a great addition to their collection.
Thank you so much for reading this report on Project Dreamscape!
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RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)