If you enjoy playing Articulate, then When I Dream may be right up your street.
I was provided with a copy of this game for review purposes.
This new table-top game from Repos tests players’ ability to describe, guess and remember objects from a series of single-word clues, while blindfolded. But not all your fellow players are trying to help you – some will be offering red herrings to mislead you.
True to its name, this game is based around the theme of dreams. Night has fallen and your mind is floating in a magical world. But rest is elusive. Putting on your sleep mask, you must communicate with Dream Spirits and try to interpret their messages. When you awaken, you must try to remember each of the elements of your dream in the form of a story.
When I first opened the box, my initial impressions were extremely positive. Most of the playing pieces are cardboard but of a good quality. And the 110 double-sided cards feature unique, colourful and attractive imagery (produced by 20 different artists), each with a surreal, dream-like quality in keeping with the game’s theme.
The rules are straightforward, as is the gameplay. The scoring system seems a little confusing initially but is actually simple once you get going. Depending on which role each player has, you earn points based on how many objects the Dreamer guesses right or wrong.
It’s easy to play but more tricky to master. Players constantly change roles. Everyone gets to play the Dreamer once but otherwise you constantly switch between the three Dream Spirits: Fairy, Boogeyman and Sandman. Each offers a different challenge. Fairies try to help the Dreamer. Boogeymen want the Dreamer to guess incorrectly. And Sandmen flip between both roles, with the aim of encouraging the Dreamer to get the same number wrong as they do right.
As the Dreamer, it is tricky to identify objects when bombarded with a mix of helpful and misleading clues. At the same time, you are trying to remember every guess you have made. Half the joy of the game comes at the end of each turn when the Dreamer tries to weave all their guesses into a single story. Like real-life dreams, this often results in a random and hilariously nonsensical narrative. It’s a great, fun way to encourage children to develop their storytelling skills.
Word game lovers will recognise that When I Dream is similar to Articulate. Both games require the ability to describe objects for others to guess. But When I Dream has the additional complexity of testing memory and storytelling, as well as the different Dream Spirit roles. And the use of the sleep mask to blindfold the Dreamer adds an additional fun element too.
The boys (who are ten and eight) are both ‘word nerds’ so unsurprisingly enjoyed the game. However, when asked they did both say they preferred the simplicity of Articulate.
When I Dream has similar strengths and weaknesses to Articulate. It’s easy to pick up and start playing. Both games require at least four players – not great if you are a family of three. And both require a fair degree of vocabulary and verbal dexterity. It’s difficult to provide clues for a word you don’t know, even if the artwork provides clues.
The minimum recommended age for the game is eight and that’s probably about right. Nonetheless there were a couple of occasions when Toby got stuck – for instance, not knowing what a ‘mason’ is. This was a rare exception, though. The vast majority of the 440 words included in the game should be fine for an average eight-year-old. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that younger players may be at a disadvantage.
Up to ten people can play the game, making it ideal for family gatherings and parties. We only played with four but I suspect the gameplay is more engaging with more players as everyone will have a different approach to giving clues and telling stories.
Smaller games are relatively quick affairs. The four-player version takes around 20 minutes to complete, whereas with ten it will be closer to 45-50.
Overall, we enjoyed When I Dream. It’s an interesting and novel extension of other word games such as Articulate but without being overly complex. It also provides a test of a player’s descriptive word association skills by allowing only single-word clues. And the storytelling element encourages players’ narrative abilities in a way few other games do.
Is When I Dream our favourite word game? No. But it’s one we’d be happy to play repeatedly, it’s reasonably priced (RRP £26.99) and the overall look and feel of the product is a cut above most other games on the market. If you’re looking for something new and a little bit different, I would certainly recommend When I Dream as a family game.