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Subject: A photojourney through unboxing and a quick solo play-session rss

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chris leko
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I got Project Dreamscape in today and thought I'd do an unboxing and quick play session. I was pretty excited to get this in, as I don't have a lot of time lately for gaming and small-box games that pack a cognitive punch and a short play-time. I don't have a video camera so I can't do a video unboxing, but I figured photos would be good enough!



It comes in a nice small package, which is great. No cardboard box to toss out, and the box is sturdy enough that the post office didn't squash it like they do everything else.



Pulled it out of the envelope and as you can see the box isn't squashed and has some really nice colorful art on it. Already the game sort of reminds me of my other favorite small-box puzzle type games about dreams (the Oniverse games). The box is about the same dimensions (though it is a bit deeper) as the original Onirim and Urbion games.



Peeled the wrapping an opened the box. As you can see the box is nice and study, and the rulebook looks like a cute file folder. Really like the graphic design so far!



Everything in the box. The tokens punched out very easy (in fact a few had come out in the box), with no hanging bits. The cards are wrapped nicely, and you can see the insert is functional enough that I probably won't toss it (I toss 90% of all box inserts because they're useless).



Close up of the expansion cards (one of them). I can clearly see the three (III) mark on the side of the card denoting that it is an expansion card. It's nicely marked without being a big blemish on it somewhere, so I really enjoy that.



Overall the cards are great quality. Probably some of the best I've seen in a card game in some time (the original Urbion also had some fantastic card quality). The stock is fantastically thick, and the linen finish is great and should make the cards stand up. I have 0 plans to sleeve this (I don't sleeve unless I have to), and I think they'll hold up fine. I haven't tried it but I think the box should fit sleeved cards, but don't hold me to that.

My only real problem with card quality is a minorly tiny thing. As you can see, some of the art is really close to the edge and because of card manufacturing differences, the minor changes in cut (e.g., how far from the side the card is cut) cause some of the art to be closer to the edge in some cards than others. It's really not a big deal, but it does form a line on the side of the deck sometimes when the cards are stacked up. It has 0 impact on gameplay and doesn't make "stacking" the deck possible, and I didn't notice it at all while playing, but it's there and might bother some people. I took a picture of it while writing this, so it might be a bit dark.



On to setup and gameplay.



The game takes up a pretty small footprint. This is me spreading it out pretty far, and it still really comes out to 9 total stacks of cards. I could easily play this at my desk during lunch (something else I really like about the Oni games is that they have a small footprint.. well, except for Sylvion). The game went pretty smoothly, though I did have some questions during the game that weren't clearly answered in the rulebook. Spending Z-cards isn't really described well in the rules. I wasn't sure if I discarded them, tapped/exhausted them, flipped them up, based on the rules. A quick glance at the video on the page here answered that. I also found out I cheated pretty hard at the end when I reserved cards (I thought I could buy them the same turn for 1 buck, so I chained them together in a 5-card buying spree a few turns at the end), so my score is inflated. With that, I still only ended up scoring 50 points, so I feel I have a lot of room for improvement.


As far as gameplay goes, it's not a Mage Knight level brain-burner. It is a nice puzzle that made me think twice about the order I bought cards, played them, or discarded them. Being able to manipulate the field to the degree that I could makes me feel like the "luck" factor to this game won't feel so strong. I do worry a bit that it might feel "samey" if I play it a lot, but there are some expansion cards in the box that replaces one-for-one one of the base set cards so I think there's a pretty decent chance that I can just alter the deck and get a new feeling game. I only played it once so far, so take that small criticism for what it is worth. This is technically a "beat your own score" kind of game for the solo-gamer, so if you want a win-condition then keep that in mind.

As it stands my initial reaction is that the game succeeds in what it tries to do: create a quick playing game that presents a decent amount of decisions and forces the player to think about what s/he is doing. The art is great (if you like stylized art), the decisions aren't taxing, but I did have to think my turn out most of the time (except the first two). Being able to chain effects together is pretty darn cool. So far I enjoyed what I played.
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Ben Haskett
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Chris, it really made my day to read this! Sarah and Will Reed not only designed and developed the game from head to toe, but they also even took care of art direction--I felt like Will knew what he wanted the whole time, and effortlessly communicated it to Julie Okahara.

Concerning the game specifically, the place where I had the most impact was the layout and graphic design. And it was a lot of fun to put together. I'm happy to read that the vents are an unobtrusive but clear indicator of an alternate dream type, and that you enjoyed the look of the Pendaflex rule book. I've had to chuckle to myself twice this year--both Pay Dirt and Burgle Bros have taken similar approaches to rules presentation, so I guess I got in on a swelling tend.

I'm happy that you don't feel the need to sleeve, but to confirm your suspicions (for anyone else who may want to sleeve) there is definitely enough room to do so!

I'm also happy that the game wasn't too much of a brain burn and that you were able to get up and running pretty quickly. You're right about your conclusion on Lucid Dreaming, by the way--you can only buy it for 1 point beginning with your next turn. Regarding Z cards, perhaps you're right--did we not explain it well enough? The rules do state:

"The card immediately next to the deck costs 5 points, then 4, 3, 2, and finally 1 point for the card farthest from the deck. Rotate sideways a number of Z cards in your Deep Sleep stack equal to the cost of the card in the Dreamscape that you wish to purchase."

And then, at the end of the turn:

"All cards in all participants’ areas are turned upright, including all Z cards and Dream cards that were reserved on that turn."

I mean, it's there, but you're correct that we never specifically state it's a stock of currency that refreshes at the end of each turn.

Sarah and Will have been putting a FAQ together, so I'll make sure that that's added to it. in the meantime, to clear it up in case anyone else isn't sure, Z Cards are always spent only temporarily on your turn--at the end of your turn, your stock of Z Cards is refreshed. In fact, the only way to get rid of a collected Z card is with Night Terror. This is where the risk of collecting Z Cards comes from--you can collect them, but getting rid of them isn't so easy.

Thanks again for putting this together, Chris! I hope you get many more chances to play it and that you continue to enjoy it.
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chris leko
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Thanks for the reply!

benHaskett wrote:
Regarding Z cards, perhaps you're right--did we not explain it well enough? The rules do state:

"The card immediately next to the deck costs 5 points, then 4, 3, 2, and finally 1 point for the card farthest from the deck. Rotate sideways a number of Z cards in your Deep Sleep stack equal to the cost of the card in the Dreamscape that you wish to purchase."

And then, at the end of the turn:

"All cards in all participants’ areas are turned upright, including all Z cards and Dream cards that were reserved on that turn."

I mean, it's there, but you're correct that we never specifically state it's a stock of currency that refreshes at the end of each turn.
I think I must have completely missed both of those parts! It's pretty clear there now that you write it out. I did notice that the Night Terror card allowed me to get rid of a few of them, and I think that liberal usage of them at the right time is going to be the key to success.

I've got the game box sitting down at my table again and I'm hoping to get in two or tree plays tonight before my wife gets home. We'll see how much free time my daughter lets me have. I am really happy with the game so far and think it was worth my small dollar investment. In fact I sort of wish I had sprung for the playmat. I don't know if you guys have any extra or are planning on producing some more, but I'm hoping you do.
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Ben Haskett
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We can't commit to any extras yet, but I really think we will have a few left over. I'll send you a PM if that turns out true!

Oh man, I love Night Terror in single player--it's the only way across the entire game (regardless of 1 or 4 players) to discard one of your own Z cards.

I'm happy that the rules are clearer when displayed that way, but I insist you're right that we could be clearer about it--definitely something to think about for future print runs. I'm very curious to see how others react to the game for the first time!
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Sarah Reed
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So glad you enjoyed it Chris! Thanks so much for the feedback and comments. We had a hard time fitting all the rules into the rulebook so unfortunateltly some things did not get as much explanation as we would have wished. I'm glad Ben got on here and responded (thanks Ben!).

I do have one thing to add and that is there is another way to have the effect of Night Terror more often and that is to use the variant with the first player marker. See page 5 in the middle of the page. This token can be used at the beginning of your turn to either gain a temporary (virtual) Z point or you can discard one of your Z cards.

Can't wait to hear how your future plays go!
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chris leko
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SilvaShado wrote:
So glad you enjoyed it Chris! Thanks so much for the feedback and comments. We had a hard time fitting all the rules into the rulebook so unfortunateltly some things did not get as much explanation as we would have wished. I'm glad Ben got on here and responded (thanks Ben!).

I do have one thing to add and that is there is another way to have the effect of Night Terror more often and that is to use the variant with the first player marker. See page 5 in the middle of the page. This token can be used at the beginning of your turn to either gain a temporary (virtual) Z point or you can discard one of your Z cards.

Can't wait to hear how your future plays go!
I'm really interested in both the variants in the book. I really want to try the one where I move the tokens for costs instead of the cards, I think that can add a new layer to decision making. I just need to play it as is a few more times.
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Sarah Reed
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often wrote:
I'm really interested in both the variants in the book. I really want to try the one where I move the tokens for costs instead of the cards, I think that can add a new layer to decision making. I just need to play it as is a few more times.
I definitely suggest playing the basic deck a few more times before switching things up. But hopefully you'll like the variants. They will give you different options to consider.
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Ben Haskett
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SilvaShado wrote:
I do have one thing to add and that is there is another way to have the effect of Night Terror more often and that is to use the variant with the first player marker. See page 5 in the middle of the page. This token can be used at the beginning of your turn to either gain a temporary (virtual) Z point or you can discard one of your Z cards.
Derp de derp. Uh... I... uh... I knew that! Honest!

LOL, my mind was totally in a different place, but you're right of course!
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Sarah Reed
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benHaskett wrote:
SilvaShado wrote:
I do have one thing to add and that is there is another way to have the effect of Night Terror more often and that is to use the variant with the first player marker. See page 5 in the middle of the page. This token can be used at the beginning of your turn to either gain a temporary (virtual) Z point or you can discard one of your Z cards.
Derp de derp. Uh... I... uh... I knew that! Honest!

LOL, my mind was totally in a different place, but you're right of course!
haha, no worries Ben. It's why we're the awesome tag team that we are.
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