Review: Dream On!
Designers: Alexandre Droit, Julien Prothière
Artist: Valentina Moscon
Publisher: CMON Limited
Category: Card Game, Real-Time
Price: $19.99 CMON
Dream On! is a wacky game of memory and storytelling from designers Alexandre Droit and Julien Prothière. Droit has also designed Gloobz, Thumbs Up!, and more, while Prothière has worked on Kreus, another CMON title.
CMON, once Cool Mini or Not, began as a simple website for users to submit various self-painted miniatures for others to rank. In 2011, Cool Mini jumped into board game publishing, releasing Super Dungeon Explorer and Zombiecide in 2012. CMON Limited has published a substantial and well-received list of games, including: The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire, Blood Rage, The Grizzled, Ethnos, Potion Explosion, Unfair, and many more, including the upcoming Rising Sun.
The game is purely illustrated through card artwork—most of which is fine. There are a few slight edge cases, including a pair of underwear, a red bra, and the top, bare backside of a woman with an intricate tattoo. The illustration of this woman is abstracted to some extent, and the focus is purely for the tattoo itself. These cards can all be removed with no interference to the game.
We don’t frequently have game nights at my pastor’s home, but when we do, upwards of 20 people show up. As my game nights are usually a committed group of 3-6 friends in rotation, I can focus on heavier titles, which are my penchant to review. In those aforementioned large game group nights, review games don’t grace the tables as often, and I’m more likely to bring Codenames or Colt Express. In other words: priority games are ones that teach fast and play well with large numbers.
Luckily enough, at GenCon I got my hands on a copy of Dream On! This was a previously unknown title to me, being another party game, extending the genre of published games from CMON, who is no longer solely a miniatures games publisher. Along with a slew of other party and large group games, Dream On! made an appearance at my pastor’s home. Aside from playing SiXes around this time last year, few games have built successful repertoire with these gatherings like I expect Dream On! has.
I tell you this background because in order for games to be accessible, especially for people who don’t spend hardly any time playing them, they need to learn quickly, provide tangible goals, and generate excitement. Dream On! does all of these things loudly and proudly, to the point where I can easily make a recommendation for Dream On! as a close to essential party game for those on the prowl.
Dream On! is a cooperative game, but it doesn’t make you feel bad for playing poorly. Players are fellow dreamers with the goal of creating and remembering events in a dream. This is all done through cardplay and imagination.
The game is set up in less than 30 seconds. Players get a hand of three cards and upon the flip of a sand timer, are instructed to play a card whenever they feel like it. At any point while the sands fall, any player may choose a card, play it onto the pile, and then use the illustration on the card to advance the dream and describe what is taking place.
Of course we’ve all likely had dreams before. I realize dreaming is strangely foreign to some folks, but for those of us familiar with them, we likely remember the oddest dreams. I can recall a handful of peculiar dreams which caused me to ruminate on various aspects of life for days on end. Dream On! is full of wacky illustrations, all of which are just barely relatable to each other. In this randomness, Dream On! reminds us all of the nonsensical narratives our minds create when we sleep.
Here’s an example:
I play a card with only two eyes hiding in the dark and say “I woke up in the darkness and felt very alone.” Blake follows up with a card with a car on it and says, “suddenly a car drove toward me with headlights blaring.” Levi follows with a card with a revolver on it and says, “I pulled out my gun and shot at the car.” I butt in and play a card with a newborn baby, “I realized I was holding my sister’s newborn child,” then I play another card in succession, this time with artwork of a movie theater, saying “luckily, I realized it was all just a movie I was watching with some friends.”
Cards are worth points, and players work toward getting as many cards played as possible.
The catch is after two minutes have ended and players have a giant stack of cards, players flip the stack and must recall every card in order. Sure, creating a huge mess of a story with countless subplots and lots of loose ends was a blast to invent, but remembering each specific event is quite the challenge.
In turn order and card by card, players attempt to recall every thread and every word spoken. A correctly guessed card grants two points, whereas an incorrect guess loses two points. Finally, if a player needs help to remember a card’s event, the rest at the table can chime in, but the card becomes only worth a single point. It’s up to the team to hold strong to integrity and force a lost or won card based on the player’s response.
The two phases of the game play well enough to two different types of people. The dreaming phase is great for players who love to be witty and silly, inventing bizarre stories off the cuff, and taking the dream into weird places. The remembering phase is great for players who aren’t as quick on their feet and might perform better by listening and recalling each event in the dream. This balance between the two phases make Dream On! lovingly accessible for a variety of people. Of course, be prepared for contagious laughter as you develop increasingly strange dreams. These cards create stories you’ll be laughing about throughout the evening. The more eccentric, the better.
One issue with Dream On! is keeping players focused on developing the dream, and not simply playing cards to play them. The rulebook isn’t entirely scrupulous on determining what phrases are fair, so I think it a bit necessary to house rule and rules lawyer a tiny bit. These party games all have this issue to some extent, so I think it necessary to keep the train on track.
A player could simply play an illustration of a house and say, “we saw a house,” with the next person playing a cardboard box and saying, “and there was a box,” with the next playing a tree, saying “then I saw a tree.” I found that forcing players to connect the illustrations directly with the previous card, or carefully considering events or characters from earlier in the dream made for better dreams, though a fair bit more challenging. These dreams had a bit more substance to them, but also made the game far more interesting than just playing a card and telling us what’s printed on it.
Dream On! is a lot of fun, and what makes it even better is how quickly you can enjoy the experience. Setup and teardown might take a minute total. You don’t really need to shuffle the cards much, and you just need to deal out hands of three. In fact, you could play with more than eight people—you’ll just need to have a bigger table for people to sit around. The game is taught in less than two minutes, and games last from about 10-15 minutes, depending on how complicated your dream is. Games play so quickly, you’ll definitely want to do 2-4 in a single sitting.
At $19.99, you can’t go wrong with at least giving Dream On! a try, especially if you are looking for fast, imaginative party games. Add this one to the list of excellent games that put players in control of the fun, instead of relying on weak, edgy, and boring jokes the likes of dated NSFW party card games—I’m looking at you Cards Against Humanity.
A review copy of Dream On! was provided by CMON.
The Bottom Line
Dream On! is a fast, fun party game that opens the door for lots of player interaction, laughs, and room to tell bizarre stories, all under the theme of dreaming. Dream On! works great at varying player counts, is dirt cheap, and is easily accessible for lots of different people.