Why we dream cannot be conclusively explained. Whether these are “good” dreams or nightmares doesn’t matter. Possible answers to the “why” are varied. Maybe it's a kind of "training" against fear and therefore a survival strategy, maybe it's just a waste product of the brain or an unconscious help for problem solving as new and old information is connected to one another. These ambiguities allow dreams to be dealt with quite freely as a topic in board games.
Dreaming is not very common in board games. There are just 44 entries on this topic on BGG. Nevertheless, there is also a colorful selection of titles that cover both the good and the bad side of dreams. The complexity of the games on this list is in the middle to upper range. From “A” for abstract or area control to “W” for worker placement, the list covers an interesting selection of implementations.
It starts with the second most complex game on the list according to the BGG ranking. Last year, the Polish publisher Board&Dice successfully crowdfunded this game. The players move their followers through a nightmarish world inspired by the works of Zdzisław Beksiński.
Each turn you move your own dreamer to a new action space and carry out the corresponding action. Of the five actions in total, only two or three are available to choose from each turn. The effects you select on the game board match your five action cards. Individual actions can be improved as the game progresses.
This is done via the “Develop” action. Here you can play upgrades to the corresponding actions and play other cards, each of which has its own effects independent of the action cards. With “Fortify” you spend your own followers from areas to build fortresses.
The Summon action adds new followers to areas. Followers who have fallen in battle and are in Limbo can be spent when performing rituals to move one's ritual tokens. Alternatively, they can be delivered from the marked areas specified in the next step on the ritual track. In addition to the ritual track, the dream cards are one of the most important sources of points. They specify certain conditions for them to be met.
The most happening is during the “Maneuver” campaign. Here you can spend movement points for your own followers and your own shaper. The shaper now converts an enemy follower or a shadow (neutral opponent) into its own follower. Finally, a certain number of conflicts are triggered. Who fights against whom and where is determined by the active person. Battles are decided by playing cards from your hand.
After each move, the eponymous cathedral in the center of the game board grows a little further. Once it is completed, the nightmares come into play. They can be controlled by the players and have different effects. In this second phase of the game, followers and shadows can now be sacrificed. At the end of the game there is a majority rating for the sacrificed units.
The game ends when a certain number of units have been sacrificed or three full rounds have been played.
In addition to the impressive and sometimes disturbing artwork, you get lots of detailed miniatures and a sprawling gaming experience. There is no “cheap” retail edition of the game without minis. Depending on where you look, you can find it from around €120. The stated playing time of 60 minutes should be doubled. The expert game can be played with 1-4 people aged 14 and over.
If it starts out complex, it should continue to be complex. The game from Fantasia Games, which was successfully crowdfunded at the end of last year, is about interpreting patients' dreams.
The first theories of psychoanalysis that deal with the subconscious emerged at the beginning of the 20th century. As members of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Association, founded in 1908 by Sigmund Freud, the players try to improve their therapeutic skills and build a well-running practice with many patients.
If the players treat their patients well, they can lead happier lives. New psychoanalytic insights can be published and hopefully cited frequently. This increases one's own influence on psychoanalysis.
On your turn, you have two options: either you place one to three ideas on the meeting table plan and carry out actions in order to then move your own inkwell or treat patients, or you get back all of the previously placed ideas for a return bonus to receive or treat patients again.
The number of steps the inkwell moves is determined by the row in which the ideas are placed on the meeting table. The inkwell also triggers new effects.
When you treat patients, you use therapy points to bring the patient's display to zero and thus heal them.
When you retrieve ideas, you receive one coffee for each action space that contains ideas. This can be used in various exchange ratios for effects or other resources. You can then heal patients or claim a return bonus in the same way as with the other action option. Vienna is divided into three districts, each with two locations, through which the professors and Freud move in a clockwise direction (roundabout).
The game is recommended for ages 12 and up. It is suitable for 1-4 people and should take 60-120 minutes to play. It is expected to be released around the turn of the year. The German edition comes from Frosted Games.
While the two previous titles were a bit dark, this one is abstract Dreamscape the players into beautiful dream landscapes that everyone builds for themselves and their dreamers. With a variant you can also bring the Lord of Nightmares into play, who makes creating dreamlike landscapes more difficult with his presence and red nightmare shards.
In addition to a phase in which the rounds are prepared and followed up, there are two main phases in the game. In the first of these two phases, the players travel with their sleepers through the six different dream worlds and are allowed to use a total of four action points. Every movement costs an action and so does every collection of a dream shard. If a dream world is empty or if you have the dream shard that is on the far left of the target world, movement is free.
You can also use the action of a dream world in which your dreamer is located once per turn, free of charge. Once everyone has spent their four action points, the phase follows in which the players design their own dreamscape.
Once you have created the constellation that requires one of your dream cards, it goes onto your personal scoring pile. Now you draw as many new cards as the number of the dream world in which your sleeper is located. You can keep a maximum of one of these. The dream cards are available in three levels of difficulty.
After six rounds, the alarm clock rings and the daydreaming is over. In addition to the points for the dream cards, there are now additional points for the four dream goal tiles. Each unfulfilled dream card costs five points. Whoever has the most points wins the game.
Behind the great artwork and the imaginative dream landscapes lies a challenging, abstract tile-laying game. With a great solo mode and four expansions Dreamscape much variety.
The game for 1-4 people ages 12 and up takes about 25 minutes per person.
Lord of dreams
Dreams are in themselves a very individual experience. At first glance, cooperative elements seem difficult to reconcile. Lord of dreams offers a cooperative gaming experience in which players take on the role of stuffed animals who must protect their owner, a little girl, from the monsters under the bed.
Central to the game is the adventure book, which is played through in a campaign consisting of several chapters. It's a rulebook, story and game board all in one.
To save the girl, the players take turns making their moves. To do this, five dice are drawn first. White dice can provide cotton equal to life points, and black dice increase threat.
The other dice in the colors red (melee), green (ranged), yellow (search) and blue (standard actions) can be used for their respective actions. Pink dice can be used for any other color.
Unused dice are discarded. Now it is checked whether it is the monsters' turn. If not, it's simply the next person's turn.
The monsters on display are resolved from top to bottom. The black threat dice are rolled individually for each monster. The monster card indicates what happens with which dice result. The monsters can move and attack the stuffed animals.
If all the stuffed animals run out of cotton at the same time and collapse, the group loses. The victory condition is different in each of the seven chapters.
The cooperative and story-based game is recommended for 2-4 people ages 8 and up and takes about 60 minutes to play.
Mech A Dream
Can robots dream? And if so, do you dream of electric sheep? We will address this question at the end of the list with the worker placement game Mech A Dream. In this game's vision of the future, people and robots live together as equals. People want to enable their mechanical friends to dream.
Over the course of a working week (seven rounds), the players deploy their workers morning, noon and evening and try to build an effective dream manufacturing factory.
There are two places for the three workers to be deployed: the factory and their own workshop.
In the factory, resources from the current shift can be collected in the storage room or at the delivery dock. Costs must be paid in advance at the delivery dock in order to obtain the resources.
To work in your own workshop, a worker can be assigned to a machine that is already there on the conveyor belt to continue building it, or you can buy a new machine from the open display by paying the corresponding costs and the machine placed on the conveyor belt in your own workshop.
After each shift (morning, lunch, evening), the machines on the conveyor belts move one space further for each worker standing on them. Completed machines are turned over and placed in your own workshop with the finished side up.
After a full day of work comes the night phase. Here all workers come back, your own robot is activated and all purple machines can also be activated once in any order.
Once a person completes nine machines, the game ends. Alternatively, it ends after the seventh night phase. The game takes about 2 minutes to play with 4-45 people and is recommended for ages 10 and up.