Lorenz Kutschke's DREAM ISLANDS from Schmidt is a thoroughly enjoyable 2-4 player game which doubles as both a 20 minute family game and a more thoughtful gamer's "light" game. It is an ideal game to play with your friends and family and especially with players who prefer short amusing games over long resource or unit control games. Gamers will find they can use their experience to make this a slightly longer and more thoughtful challenge, whilst family players will just accept it at face value. Beautifully illustrated by Michael Menzel DREAM ISLANDS is a colourful and enjoyable journey in, on and around a series of Tropical Islands, any of which could, if real, be the island of your dreams.
The premise is that you are a travel agent and the meeples are your clients who want to do and see things that holidaymakers want to do and see, hence the Mission cards; these represent the excursions and other fun stuff holiday reps have lined up for their clients. The more missions/excursions you complete the happier your meeple vacationers will be and the more brownie points for you.
This is a sort of race around the islands game with the players attempting to fulfil their missions and move their playing pieces (meeples) to one of the three central islands. When one player is the first to complete all of their missions or when there are six pieces (of all/any players) on the central islands the game ends and the players top up their scores; number of missions completed, what central isle they are on etc. all very simple and easy to understand.
The game begins with each player shuffling their own deck of 16 cards and drawing 3 to form a hand and placing 5 of their meeples on the airplane in the bottom left corner of the map. After deciding who is going to be the Start Player the sixth meeple of each player is positioned around the board on consecutive islands and then turns are taken in clockwise order, 3 Actions per player turn. Everything is so well documented and detailed in the beautifully coloured rules book that you can be playing DREAM ISLANDS literally within minutes of opening the box. Apart from their personal card sets and 6 meeples in the same identifying colour, the players each have four shells and a numbered player board marked with four compartments noted as 2, 3, 4 and 5.
The Shells and player board are a very neat way for each player to decide their movement points for their turn. The Shells are kept to one side and played onto the board, thus covering the required number of movement. Once all four numbers have been covered players get their shells back and can then select from all four again, obviously they cannot select a number currently covered by a shell. Once the movement number has been chosen the player moves their meeples, one or more of them, so that all movement is used. If the position of the meeples on the board match any of the current Mission cards held then they can claim that mission and put it aside to score at the game end, another mission is drawn from their deck. It is possible to complete more than one mission at a time.
The players move their pieces around the board counting each island as a space. When they get to the island prior to the central islands they can either enter the centre and place their meeple on an unoccupied island (3 or 2) or onto the main island (1) where any number of meeples can gather. If they want to they can continue the meeples movement past the central islands and carry on around the board, once passed they have to go all the way around again - no backwards movement is allowed.
Each mission card shows the position you have to place your meeples (or move them to) as well as the island (when necessary) they need to be on - some mission cards require a meeple on each of a number of consecutive islands. The card has to be completed exactly, thus if you require one meeple on three consecutive islands and you have another meeple on another island that connects to the three, thus one meeple on four consecutive islands, then you cannot claim the three consecutive island mission as complete, you would have to move a meeple first. Wow, that sounds long-winded but it's actually quite simple. Other missions require you to have more meeples on a specific island than any other meeples, thus if you are Green and have 3 meeples on the correct island but there are 2 Blue 1 Red and a Yellow meeple sharing the island then you may have more meeples than any other colour but you don't have the overall majority.
DREAM ISLANDS is about clever planning and a little luck, plus you have to hope that the players going before you don't move their pieces onto the island or islands you have carefully planned out for this turn. It is a great game of frustration and for frustrating your opponents, which you can do whether you mean to or not. DREAM ISLANDS plays quite fast as there aren't a lot of confusing rules or amendments, it is a straight-forward fun but challenging, highly entertaining game.
At GGO we thoroughly enjoy DREAM ISLANDS especially as it is always fun and can be played in a lunch break. It's also good to have as a game when you are having a boardgame session and require a short interim game.