Full disclosure: A preview copy of Dreams of Tomorrow was provided by Weird Giraffe Games. Some art, gameplay, or other aspects of the game may change between this preview and the fulfillment of the Kickstarter, should it fund, as this is a preview of a currently unreleased game.
I’ve spent most of the month doing Essen / Gen Con work, but like I did with Lovelace & Babbage (and will do with Zoo-ography), I do try to make some room for Kickstarter games in my schedule. My schedule’s currently swamped until November, but there’s room in it somewhere. That said, I can always find some time to try and look at the latest game from Carla and Weird Giraffe Games; they’ve been having a pretty solid year, what with Stellar Leap fulfilling and Fire in the Library doing so well on Kickstarter. How does their latest release measure up?
In Dreams of Tomorrow, you’ve had a bit of a rough time and the world is ending. Good news, no more traffic; bad news, no more you, either. Bit of a mixed bag. The only way to stop it is to inspire people way back in the past through their dreams so that they can work to change their future (your present). Use the dreams abilities or weave them into sequences, either works, but you don’t have much time; will you be able to engineer a better tomorrow?
Game’s actually pretty easy to set up. Set the Rondel cards out for your player count. They have a front and a back side, but place them front-side-up in order from 1 to 4:
These cards are referred to as Consciousness Fragments, and they form the Collective Consciousness, which is the space you’ll be playing in.
Next, form the Dreamscape by drawing Dream cards for the number of players you have:
Place them in rows below the Collective Consciousness cards:
- 1 – 2 players: 4 Dreams
- 3 players: 5 Dreams
- 4 – 6 players: 6 Dreams
If you’re playing with the Night Mare, set it out and choose what you’re going to use (there are some solo mode cards [not pictured] that dictate its behavior):
Give each player a player board:
Have them set their Meeple on the top-left space of the Collective Consciousness (each card has a top and bottom space) and place the cubes on 6 Experience (clock), 0 Creativity (paintbrush), and 0 Hope (candle, also real life). Place the last cube on the Clockwise arrow on the bottom-left of the player board:
There’s also a set in white, but it doesn’t photograph well against a white backdrop. Some sacrifices must be made in the name of progress.
Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to start!
So in Dreams of Tomorrow, you want to score points by catching Dreams and weaving them into sequences. Matching up certain colors of Dreams will create Resonance, which will score you even more points. Once a player has woven 5 Dreams, the final round occurs and the player with the most points at the end wins.
To get to that point, we have to start with your first dream. Each player has 6 Experience, and must now take their first Dream for free. Start with the Starting Player and go clockwise as each player claims a dream from the Dreamscape (and then refills it). For your first game, since you likely don’t know what any of the abilities mean, you can kind of just draw random ones from the deck, if you want. Either way, there’s a cost in the upper-right corner (not the star; that’s how many points its worth). It’s the one with the Experience icon; have each player lose Experience equal to that icon’s value.
Now that you’ve done that, the game can begin! The first thing you’ll do on your turn is move, and this movement system has a lot in common with EmperorS4’s rondel games, Mystery of the Temples and Discovery: The Era of Voyage. The eight spaces in the Collective Consciousness form a rondel, and you can move clockwise (unless your character has the ability to switch). You move as follows:
- 1 – 3 spaces: Free
- 4 spaces: 1 resource of your choice
- 5 spaces: 3 resources of your choice
- 6 spaces: 6 resources of your choice
This extension-for-resources only applies during this phase; some other abilities may let you move but you cannot pay more resources to move farther as a result of those cards. Either way, once you finish that, you’ll land on a space. The spaces have several potential actions:
- Activate one of your Dreams: You may use the ability of any Dream in your Dream Catcher area or the top-most Dream in your Dream Sequence. Any Dreams below that Dream cannot be used.
- Gain a Resource type: You gain a large amount of one resource type and your opponents gain a smaller amount of that type. This can be Hope, Experience, or Creativity.
- Gain any Resources: You gain some number of Resources of your choice (represented by the heart icon) and your opponents gain a bit of Creativity.
- Catch a Dream: You may purchase a Dream from the Dreamscape by paying its Experience cost. Your opponents gain a bit of Experience. When you do this, you may also spend two resources of your choice to discard every card in the Dreamscape and refill it before you purchase one. You may do this as many times as you have resources to pay for it.
- Weave a Dream: You may spend Hope and Creativity to add a Dream to your Dream Sequence. When you add a Dream, you may either make it the top-most or bottom-most Dream in the sequence. If you place it on the bottom, though, you cannot use that Dream’s ability in the future, so be careful!
That’s essentially the whole of it! Some abilities let you move around or flip cards in the Collective Consciousness; if you do that, any players on the card stay on their spaces.
Play continues until one player has added a fifth Dream to their Dream Sequence. When that happens, continue the round until every player has taken an equal number of turns (if the last player is the first to add a fifth Dream, the game ends after their turn). Now, you move on to scoring. Scoring works in two ways:
- Dream Cards: Each dream has a certain point value. Just … add those up.
- Resonance: Each dream also (generally) has a top and bottom with a color strip and a symbol. Complete sequences of two or more of the same color + symbol resonate, making their power stronger. Some cards have multiple symbols on the upper strip, forming a rainbow that matches all colors (even if the colors to their left and right are different). For each set (on the top and bottom), score them as follows:
- 2 cards: 2 points
- 3 cards: 4 points
- 4 cards: 7 points
- 5 cards: 11 points
Add up the Resonance Scores with the Dream Card values and the player with the most points wins!
Night Mare Variant
If you’re looking for a more chaotic game, add in the Night Mare! This bad horse tears through the Collective Consciousness, changing everything around. You’ll use the solo mode cards for this, but essentially after the last player’s turn, the Night Mare will act (and move around some of the cards in the Collective Consciousness). The Night Mare’s next turn moves up counterclockwise in the turn order (so its first turn is after Player 4, its next turn is after Player 3, and so on). I believe that in a two-player game, this means that the Night Mare takes a turn after every player, which makes the game … pretty volatile.
Player Count Differences
So the primary difference is that you play with a different rondel at higher player counts, as you need to make sure you’re not getting overrun with resources when it’s not your turn. That’s pretty much the only difference, and that’s not a huge one, in my opinion. The major reason I have a slight preference for lower player counts is just that there’s less downtime between my turns. This is addressed somewhat because you still get resources when it’s not your turn, but I like to do things, so I’d probably lean towards playing this more at 4 or fewer players.
- There are four cards of each type. You want those. Getting four of the same card means you’re guaranteed at least 14 points on Resonance (18 if you can get another card that matches either side). That’s usually a pretty solid way to make moves towards winning.
- If you really want to mess with someone, buy the Dream Card they want. That’ll infuriate them, but, honestly, that’s one of the best ways to make headway against another player. The only question I have is whether or not that’s the most efficient way to spend your time. I’d really only do this if you can actually use their Dream Card, otherwise, at higher player counts, you’re really just making sure that both of you get your chances of winning reduced, which … isn’t really strategic, in the strictest sense of the word. You can, more cheaply, just spend resources to discard the card that they want, which is a bit more expedient (and useful) than buying it, albeit less final.
- Don’t underestimate the ability to buy Dream Cards from the discard. It invalidates the above strategy and can be just what you need to get the card that you absolutely must have to complete your strategy. Be careful, though! Once it gets shuffled back into the deck, this ability isn’t … all that useful. It’s also not useful at the start of the game.
- Don’t get too attached to your resources. You can have like, 30 total. If you’re holding on to them, you’re wasting them. At least if you’re spending them to move you’re doing something moderately useful with them. Try to avoid ever hitting 10 of something; you can’t spend all 10 at once, after all. Keep buying stuff! Add Dreams to your Sequence!
- Know how to manipulate the rondel. A good flip can take you from a bad spot to a good spot really quickly, and moving cards around to benefit yourself / hurt your opponents is always a good look. You may be able to really mess someone up if you move them away from their next move or flip a card and move the space they want out of their reach.
- I don’t think a rush strategy is all that valuable. You really need the resonance bonuses from the Dream Cards if you want to win, and I think just going for five random, low-cost cards isn’t going to be that helpful, especially since you can’t easily get back to the Weave space multiple turns in a row (usually). Better to really nail down the useful cards, though you’re unlikely to be lucky enough to get all four of the same cards unless you’re doing some serious deck-skimming. Even then, it’s a lot of luck.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Really neat theme. You’re sending dreams back in time! That’s very pleasant and cool.
- Love the art. I haven’t seen James Masino around since Highways & Byways and War Co.; glad to see his work again. It’s super impressive and he is definitely in his element.
- Pretty easy to pick up. Setup isn’t too time-consuming and there aren’t that many rules; once you get the game it’s pretty easy to explain again, and the game’s got a decently small box (making it easy to take with you). It’s a good size and complexity, which I appreciate.
- I like the ability to manipulate the rondel. Having the cards be flippable was a smart move; it lets you avoid a lot of irritating extra pieces. I kind of wish it were four pieces of a circle, but that’s just because I love moving in circles; it’s just a thing.
- I appreciate the desire to keep other players engaged by giving them resources when it’s not their turn. It also makes your moves challenging; you don’t want to help another player (especially if they’ll score as a result of your move), so you need to be a bit thoughtful. I don’t think it keeps me as invested as, say, SPQF‘s follow mechanic, but it’s not bad.
- I’m super appreciative of all the extra modes. I know it’s par for the course for Weird Giraffes, but it’s awesome that they have a solo mode and an AI player and a high-chaos variant. It’s a lot of extra stuff for one game, and I think they’re all really neat additions.
- I may have played the Night Mare incorrectly at two players, but if not, it happens a lot. I understand the desire for it to be randomized so that one player can’t take advantage of it more than the other, but it would be nice if it happened maybe half as frequently in a two-player game; it’s hard to keep track of it with everything else going on.
- The theme makes the game seem more cooperative, strangely. I suppose the question is, like, why are we competing when we want to change the future positively? Are we all mildly not-great corporations each trying to shape the future towards our specific outcome? Unclear, but that threw me off a bit.
- The player boards are kind of low contrast. It’s hard to tell the purple and the black boards apart, but I think that might just be a “preview copy thing”; I’m going to assume that’ll be more apparent in the production version.
- The iconography makes the game a bit difficult to learn, initially. This is the great trade-off: if you have text, it’s easier to pick up without help but requires a lot of reading (this is a problem Ex Libris has, in my opinion); on the other hand, if you have only icons (like this and SPQF), you need to have a reference guide to what those icons actually mean. If they don’t resonate with your players, it’s going to take a long while for them to fully understand the game, as well. If you’re teaching the game, take some time to refer to the rules and understand what all the icons do; it’ll help you a lot.
Overall: 7.5 / 10
Overall, I liked Dreams of Tomorrow! Once you get through learning all the Dream Abilities and what their icons mean, the game is pretty straightforward to understand. It’s a bit of an optimization problem and a bit of a deck skimming problem at the same time, with some cool set collection elements. That said, I’d be doing everyone a disservice if I didn’t mention the fantastic art — James is really crushing it with these different pieces of the Dreamscape and they’re just absolutely fantastic. Weird Giraffes has another fun game on their hands, and if you like rondels, great art, some set collection, or the idea of saving the future, Dreams of Tomorrow is a fun game worth checking out! I’ve enjoyed it.