I have trouble remembering my dreams, but when I do they are pretty random, like out in space whilst eating a hot-dog random! They can tell a lot about our personalities, what we’re feeling, and even show us our memories, it’s a fascinating subject in itself. Exploring the imagination of our dreams too is creativity incarnate. So, what do we get when delving into this world through a When I Dream board game?
This is for 4 to 10 players, and a game lasts around 30 minutes. Designed by Chris Darsaklis for publisher REPOS, it’s pretty clear we’re looking at a different kind of game with unique mechanics. The artwork on the box looks brilliant, you could look at it for a good five minutes in order to take in everything that is going on, very attractive, and has a fancy, elegant like style. The curiosity is here, will we get something worth a good night’s sleep, or a restless travesty which keeps us up?
What Do You Get?
- 110 Dream Cards (Double-sided, each with 4 Elements)
- 104 Point Tokens
- 11 Dream Spirit Cards (5 Fairies, 4 Boogeymen and 2 Sandmen)
- 1 Bed
- 1 Board
- 1 Headboard
- 1 Rulebook
- 1 Sand Timer (2 minutes)
- 1 Sleep Mask
How Do You Set It Up?
- Place the board in the centre of the table.
- Place the bed in the centre of the board.
- Since the Dream Cards are double-sided, shuffle them thoroughly (by rotating and/or flipping them) and place them on the bed. Place the Headboard to cover one of the two Elements, Covered Elements are not used during the game.
- Place the sand timer and the Point tokens within reach of all players.
- Depending on the number of players, take the corresponding Dream Spirit cards and leave the rest in the box (they will not be used during the game).
6. The oldest player becomes the Dreamer for the first round. They take the sleep mask and place it in front of themselves.
How Do You Play?
When I Dream is played over a series of rounds equal to the number of players. Each round is divided into 2 phases, Night and Day. Each night, one player-the Dreamer-tries to identify the Elements based on the clues that the other players give them.
Each day, the Fairies and the Dreamer score points for each Element the Dreamer identified correctly. The Boogeymen score points each time the Dreamer is incorrect. The Sandmen score extra points when the Fairies and the Boogeymen score the same number of points.
At the end of the game, the player with the most points wins.
1. Distribute the Roles
The Dreamer shuffles the Dream Spirit cards and deals one to each player beside themselves. Each player looks at their card without revealing it to the other players. The remaining card is placed facedown on the table and must not be revealed.
Then, the Dreamer covers their eyes with the sleep mask. Place the top Dream card at the bottom of the deck (making sure to rotate or flip it) to reveal the next Element.
Flip the sand timer.
2. The Dream
Starting with the player to the left of the Dreamer and going clockwise, each player gives a single-word clue to describe the Element. Proceed this way until the Dreamer interrupts to guess the Element.
As a result, it is possible for multiple turns to go around the table. The players cannot give clues that are derived from the Element, or clues that sound familiar, or even translate the Element into another language.
At any point, the Dreamer can interrupt to give one, and only one, guess:
- If the Dreamer is correct, the card is placed on the yellow side of the board.
- If the Dreamer is incorrect, the card is placed on the blue side.
Then players resume taking turns and proceed with the newly revealed Dream card.
IMPORTANT: The Dreamer cannot know whether their answer was right or wrong. Players must remain discreet!
When the two minutes are over, the Dreamer may give one last answer (this is not mandatory). If they decide not to, the last card remains on top of the deck, with no effect.
1. Recount the Dream
Before removing the sleep mask, the Dreamer recounts their dream and tries to mention all the Elements they guessed during the night.
As you recount the dream, feel free to dramatize your dream. Be inspired by your answers to create a dreamy, funny, zany story…
For example: “In my dream, I saw a Rooster who fought against a Vampire for a Hamburger while a dog was playing Drums.”
When the Dreamer has finished recounting their dream, they remove the sleep mask.
2. Count the Points
The players reveal their Dream Spirit cards and score points as follows:
- Fairies score 1 point for each Dream card on the yellow side of the board (correct answers).
- Boogeyman score 1 point for each Dream card on the blue side of the board (wrong and/or skipped answers).
- The Dreamer scores 1 point for each Dream card on the yellow side of the board. They also score 2 extra points if they mentioned all the Elements placed on the yellow side of the board when recounting the dream.
- Sandmen compare the number of Dream Cards on each side of the board:
Example: Lisa and Eve are Fairies, they score 3 points. Tom is the Dreamer, he scores 5 points because he remembered all of the Elements (3 + 2). Amy and Melissa are Boogeymen, they score 2 points each, Jack is a Sandman, he scores 3 points.
3. Round End
Remove all of the Dream cards from the board and place them at the bottom of the deck (making sure to rotate and/or flip the cards).
The player sitting to the left of the Dreamer becomes next round’s Dreamer. They take the sleep mask and all of the Dream Spirit cards, including the one that was set aside.
When all the players have been the Dreamer once, the game ends.
Each player counts their points, remembering to subtract one point for each penalty they have in front of themselves.
The player with the most points wins the game.
In case of a tie, the tied player with the fewest penalties is the winner. If there is still a tie, the players share the victory.
Pros Of The Game
- Easy to learn and fast-paced
- Great for social gatherings, parties and large groups
- Brilliant artistic style and design
- Sharpens your mind and keeps you actively using your ideas and creativity
- Light play that can ease in new players and non-gamers
Cons Of The Game
- Not much to the gameplay, basic scoring
- Not really competitive or complex
- Sand timer doesn’t work for some
- Can be daunting for some if playing with people you don’t know
- Can sometimes feel unbalanced between the Fairy and Boogeyman, thanks to the Sandman
Should You Get When I Dream?
At first when I heard this was a party/guessing game, I had trouble picturing the party vibe from it. But when you see players putting on the eye-mask, make the most bizarre dream guesses, bringing out laughter and fun moments, I can now see why it would be.
Needless to say, the art throughout this game is stunning. From the cards to the board to the eye-mask, if you wanted to illustrate creativity in dream form within a board game, this is the way to do it. It just all looks so wondrous and, well, magical.
The bed used as a cardholder with the Fairy and Boogeyman card placeholders really encompasses the idea and goal of the game whilst sticking to the theme. The eye-mask has a nice swirling design representing the dream world, immersion seeps all over the components.
Of course, the heart of the game are the cards, designed by a number of artists, including Julien Delval, Regis Torres, Christine Deschamps and Vincent Dutrait. Displaying incredible graphics on each side, whoever came up with these dream concepts must have been smoking something, which funnily enough was the right move to illustrate how far your dreams can go!
With the number of cards as well, doubled with dreams on both sides, forming 440 different words in the game, you’ll have enough to keep you going without remembering them for a while, especially if you play periodically so you have some time to forget cards you’ve played previously.
If these were unimaginative, lazy or flat, this game would’ve failed. But you’re intrigued on what dream you’ll come across next and guess each turn, and they’re presented so well in great detail in an art style that gives a curious, other-worldly feel. Really great job with the components, theme and design.
Probably the only component which some people have had trouble with is the sand-timer where it has occasionally got stuck, which ruins your round and can be annoying, if this was tweaked you’d have an all-round perfect set. On one hand it’s a crucial part to the game so this should be designed better, on the other, you can just use your smartphone as a replacement timer, so it’s not the end-all-be-all.
Don’t let the soft, whimsical theme fool you, this game can be challenging. Primarily this is because each player has different incentives for their clues. Between Fairies wanting you to get cards right, the Boogeyman wanting you to get cards wrong, and the Sandman having random intentions, sometimes you’re just left doing your best to either guess correctly or let more clues get passed around to help you work out elements.
Even then it can be difficult to remember everything you’ve said during the 2-minute time span, especially whilst trying to think of new elements. To be honest, party games usually are looser on the rules than regular board games, you don’t want to overtask people who just want a chilled, breezy time. I reckon When I Dream’s rules are meant to be loose, simply asking you to hear, guess, repeat.
No restrictions, no setbacks, no faltering opponents, no additional resources, extras bonuses or penalties. It’s all about guessing clues fast and having a laugh with what they come up with. So even though the rules and mechanics could’ve been expanded upon, it knows what audience to reach for and make it fun for them, making it as light and enjoyable as the theme of the game itself. Whether there can be a heavy version of this is debatable, but I would be intrigued to see what that looked like.
In fact, the scoring in general seems to be more of an afterthought. As one that is more focused on the experience, you don’t have much control over what your final score will be, and since only one player is the dreamer per game, it matters quite little. Not that the scoring system should be taken out completely, there needs to be some motivation when playing, but the system we do have here works and it’s pushed more to the side so you can get more into the fun.
People who need more of that competitive feel with a proper scoring system to tell who has won might have difficulty enjoying this game. Some might like more emphasis from the scoring, perhaps some method(s) of getting some additional points towards the end of the game. The incentive to play is there, so could make the totals more prevalent actually improve the game? Maybe, it depends on your preference, you can have a balance of rivalry and experience in a game, this one just decides to highlight more the experience.
Saying that there is a bit of an unbalanced feeling during play. Some say that the Sandman, who is supposed to be a middleman teasing both sides, seems to tilt more towards chaos, putting the odds much against the Fairy. I don’t know if this was to make the game more challenging or perhaps a mismatch at causing sabotage. It’s good you can change the roles to mix things up and it doesn’t occur all the time, maybe it’s just a bit tricky to even out all sides when everything is randomized.
What makes a good board game for social gatherings are the interactive features integrated into its gameplay. The interaction would need to be higher than usual for these sorts of settings to keep the fun and laughs going. Role playing is a good form of doing this, and in this games case, one person communicating ideas as effectively as possible whilst hiding their role provides good involvement all round.
When I Dream inspires you to think creatively, implement word association, as well as tests your memory, all whilst facing the clock which raises urgency. Everyone focuses on you, your actions, and the answers you provide, which really chucks you into the thick of the game.
Fairies and dreamers share experiences to gain points, the Boogeyman disrupts play by augmenting words, and the Sandman switches between these roles in order to maintain balance between them. You don’t come across this type of gameplay often, and it can feel a bit all over the place at first, but after a few rounds you’ll find it is best played when everyone starts to chill and just interact naturally whist exchanging ideas.
The eye-mask really brings forth the theme as it leaves you in your own head, creating mental images and words that are said to you and forming a narrative with them. You’re in your own dream world which lets the Fairies be resourceful in their wordplay in order to steer you along the right lines away from the Boogeyman and Sandman.
You could think of this game in comparison to Dixit in some way. One of the growing classics in the industry, Dixit stood out from the crowd with its new take on gameplay, having players interact by interpreting signs within images which reveal messages. The challenge is by contributing your ideas on the spot, giving you little time to plan during the games quick pace. If you’ve played Dixit, you will see the similarities within When I Dream.
Between people continuously switching roles and the number of dreams on the cards, you are more than able to stretch out the number of plays here. The opportunity for expansions with more cards is right in REPOS’s face!
Understandably it can feel a bit intimidating to be the only person in the group to lessen your senses putting on the blindfold, giving you the weird feeling wondering whether you’re still playing a game or not. Also, everyone is looking at you, throwing clues, awaiting you to answer correctly, it can be daunting, causing you to worry and think you’ll screw up and be embarrassed.
I encourage you to get past this hurdle though, once you get into it you’ll have a good time. If it helps you can start playing in smaller groups before including more players, just to get comfortable.
The idea behind the mask not only suits the idea of being asleep and facing dreams, but it allows you to focus on the clues you get and not worry about anything else, sharpening your mind. Once you start concentrating on the words you hear from the other players, any worries you have will be forgotten. Besides the other players will be focused on their own challenges and will be too busy trying to think of clues to match the next word.
What seems like an incredibly hard task in trying to deduce who is the Fairy and who is not, you’ll be surprised at how you start to figure it out! It may feel jarring, being blinded and relying on rapid fired words to analyze, but when playing it you don’t feel as confused as you might assume. You develop an instinct which picks up on how consistent the clues are, to the point that your incorrect guesses are just near misses and you are close to the mark.
A problem with playing in this format is that it actually can be confusing and daunting when playing with people you don’t know. It’s easier to recognise people’s voices and decide from how they’re saying things on whether to trust them or not. However, you can’t place a blank face and you can lose track of who said what if you aren’t familiar with the other players. It’s better to play with people you know to improve your involvement and get the most out of it.
You really feel you got your money’s worth here, every bit of this game has good quality, and the whole vibe and setting of it all feels rich and fulfilled. There are plenty of word-guessing games, like Charades and Taboo. But the twists this game brings introduce a fresher experience.
A lot of boxes are ticked with this game, great theme, quality components, interactive and engaging gameplay, high replay ability. Also, it fully takes advantage of what it sets out to do, giving easy to learn, fast-paced rounds which bring out imagination and communication between players for any sized groups.
It’s not the most strategic, and it’s more creative in theme than in gameplay, but you’re so involved in what’s going on with this exceptional attempt at bringing something new to the table, it’s certainly worth a go. But if you can’t into it, I’d suggest playing Dixit for a different feel on a similar concept.
Good for lighthearted and new gamers, formed of groups who want an entertaining time, and who can get into the artistic style. Bad for more competitive gamers who want a bit more complexity, who are a bit daunted by the focus on them for their round, or who are just not into the theme considering it’s the centrepiece.
Personally, I highly recommend When I Dream and I hope that it does well so we can see more games like it be created, games which really bring out a different level of fun that keeps everyone on their toes. You might actually lose sleep playing it!
Thank you for reading my When I Dream board game review! What do you think? Did you get into the style and theme? Or was it not your taste? Were you immersed or put off by playing the dreamer? Would you like to see more games like this? I’m happy to hear any comments you may have!