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DREAMS
Published by zoch zum spielen
Designed by author: Olivier Grégoire
Fantastic Art by Illustrators: Tina Kothe & Michael Coimbra
Average cost between £17.00 & £26.00

DREAMS falls into the game genre which includes such gems as 'Apples to Apples' - 'Dixit' - 'Codenames' - 'CAH' - 'Pictionary' etc where one player makes a decision then 'hides' his selection amongst a number of other similar  items/objects (drawings, cards, illustrations etc) and the other players have to correctly determine which is the actual target.

Now everyone who reads my reviews online here at Games Gazette or on Boardgamegeek.com knows that I am a bit of a soft touch in as much as I always look for the good things in games rather than just say I do or don't like it. I want to give players a good idea of what they will be getting for their money and whether I think there is value in the cost. Some games have a lot of game and very few components so at first the price tag looks heavy, but the playability is so high that the cost is soon forgotten. Other games have a large price tag and hundreds of components but very little actual game; they look nice but don't give the expected satisfaction.

GGO readers will also know that I am a great supporter of ZOCH zum Spielen games. I have so many of their 'children's games' that adult gamers enjoy because of the hidden tactics and strategies that can be found in them. I also love their balancing games such as 'Menara' - 'Riff Raff' and 'Bausack' and of course their small box family games like Zicke Zacke and their family/gamer games which include 'Tobago' - 'Niagar' and 'Trollfjord'. It should go without saying that when it comes to family style gamer's games Zoch are way up there with the best of them as far as I am concerned.

Concerned however, is what I am with DREAMS.
The players are Gods placing stars in the sky to form constellations (or in this case consternations). There is a beautiful oval-shaped sky cloth in a glorious deep dark blue, stacks of numerical God markers and Mortal markers, wooden player pieces in the shape of Crescent Moons, a deck of amazingly illustrated cards, some sparkly and not so sparkly plastic star stones and for each player a 'selection decider' in the shape of a nine (and eight) points star - assembled by the players prior to the first game there are two star shaped pieces with the 8 pointer sitting above the 9 pointer, thus leaving a gap that allows the selection of a colour or number on the under-star. (Basically two cogs of the same shape and size except the top cog has a tooth missing) A separator ensures ease of turning the top star to make the selection clear and clean.

Four cards are placed face up in a 2x2 block. Each card is assigned a number 1-4 (1 & 2 on top, 3 & 4 below). One player, chosen by an unnecessarily complex manner concerning shuffling discs, closing eyes, moving discs around and eventually dealing one disc to each player - one will get the 'Mortal' others will be the Gods.
IMPORTANT NOTE: at this point nobody should know who is a God and who is the Mortal. The three Gods now know what the chosen image is (they will all have the same number on their discs) and they each keep this privately. 

In turn all players get to place one of their gem-stars onto the mat. They have three types of gem-stars, crystal, black and grey, they choose which each turn until all players have placed three stars. The idea is that they are supposed to place the stars to form a constellation that relates to the illustration. 

Then the guessing begins, still all in secret, with each player using their Star-Wheel Token thingy (remember that this was assembled earlier). The Gods need to select a colour, hoping to guess who is the Mortal, while the Mortal selects a number, hoping to guess which of the cards (1-4) in the display is the True Vision.

When everyone is ready all Star-Wheels are revealed and points scored accordingly. The Mortal gets 3 points if no-one has guessed they are not a God, and 2 points if they have chosen the correct number. The Gods score 2 points for selecting the Mortal's colour and 1 point if their personal colour hasn't been chosen by any of the other Gods.

My honest thoughts are that there are better games in this genre (I emphasise 'games') but not many with as good components. The artwork on the cards is magnificent, incredible, virtually worth the cost of the game on its own. If you already have DIXIT, or you know the rules for it, you can utilise these cards more enjoyably for it. It's better than messing about trying to make sense of a layout of plastic gems. UNLESS of course you are indeed a keen Astronomer and are exceptionally good at studying star constellations.

Personally I can usually point out the Big Dipper (aka Ursa Major aka Big Bear) and Small Dipper (aka Urse Minor aka Little Bear) and the three main stars of Orion's Belt, but the rest of the pictogram constellations I just cannot see how someone has decided which stars make up who or what, even when they are drawn in I can't see it, and for me DREAMS is the same, plus, of course, there's nothing to say the Gods (players) have to place their stars in anywhere near the correct order.

So for what is, I think the second time in over 20 years, I have found a Zoch game that isn't for me.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015