The following review contains the opinions of the author only and may not directly reflect the opinions of all members of Gaming as Women. The author was given an advance review copy of the game to play and review.
I am super excited to share this with everyone! I was given an advance review copy of Pleasant Dreams, a card game by Aerjen Tamminga coming soon to Kickstarter, to review and share with all of you.
A little bit about the game:
Pleasant Dreams is a game about dreams and nightmares. In the game, your goal is to stay asleep and fend off nightmares that come to call. It is a solo or two player game and takes about 15 minutes to play.
The first thing I noticed: the cards are pretty nice, even for a prototype, and holy crap the art. It evokes both calming, quieting emotions and creepy, disturbing feelings. Some of the images are a little creepy, so I’d aim to keep this for kids 12 and up. Just use your best judgment, I guess – I’m not a parent.
To play the game, you first have a Wakefulness card which has numbers 0 to 5. This meter helps determine whether you win or lose the game. The 0 means you are completely asleep, while the five means you wake screaming from your nightmares. The cards in the Dream Fragments deck impact your wakefulness either positively or negatively based on the numbers at the top of the card. I will note that the Dream Fragment cards have Roman numerals, but the Wakefulness card has Arabic numerals, which was a little confusing at first (I misread the first +II card as +11 and was confused!). This is a small thing, though, and was easy to iron out.
On your turn, you draw one to five cards and resolve them in reverse order (if the deck is to your left, you draw them left to right, resolve them right to left). You can also use a Premonition card to preview some of the cards – both players get to see these cards. If a really scary card comes up that might wake you, you can use a Barrier card to block the affects and put the card back on the bottom of the deck. The Premonition and Barrier cards are single use and each player only gets one of each.
You have an option to flip certain cards to put them back in the deck. This gives you back a point of wakefulness, but puts both you and the other player at risk for a worse turn later on in the game. Sometimes the opposite sides of the cards are nice, sometimes they are very not!
If you wake up before the end of your turn, you lose. It’s possible for both players to “win” (not wake up), which I think is great. There is something to be said for games where everyone can win. Not everyone will like the fact that, with a little bit of attention and strategy, you can win every time. However, I like that – I prefer to win and I feel like Pleasant Dreams strikes a good balance.
The game is very easy to understand and simple to play. I think it would be a great pickup game for between con games or just to kill time. I personally recommend the game when it becomes available. I had a great time playing and I look forward to more!
A note from Aerjen, the designer:
“What I noticed is that by a slightly different interpretation of the end game, you’ve found a very nice play variant. I’ll be sure to add that on Boardgamegeek down the road. The difference is that the person who finishes the dream without waking up is actually the winner, so normally there isn’t a shared victory. Playing with those rules adds a different layer of tension to the end game. On that note: if players want to try out a bit more of a challenge you can start higher on the wakefulness track. I’ve colloquially named starting at “1” a Lightmare, at “2” or “3” a Nightmare and at “4” a Frightmare :)”
Thanks Aerjen for clearing that up! And thank you for the new challenge – something else for me to try!