Monday, June 12, 2017

Quick Review - Lucidity Six-Sided Nightmares- Kickstarter Preview

Lucidity: Sid-Sided Nightmares
Designer: Shannon Kelly
Publisher: Fox Tale Games
2-4p | 20-30m | 14+
Quick Review - Lucidity Six-Sided Nightmares- Kickstarter Preview

Throughout history the night has been filled with mystery and fear.  Monsters under the bed, things that go bump in the night, shadows, betrayal, and claustrophobia are all denizens of the darkness.  Nowhere are these more prevalent than in our nightmares.  Night terrors threaten to consume you, unless you can master your dreams.  Learn the tricks to lucid dreaming and you will gain power over the nightmares and keep the darkness at bay.  Fail at this and you will succumb to that which you fear the most.

In Lucidity: Six-Sided Nightmares you are a Dreamer attempting to navigate the unpredictable world of dreams, learning to control your nightmares, and be the first to gain enough power over your dreams to control the nightmares.  Be careful though, if the nightmares become too powerful you will be stuck in a dreamstate and become a Nightmare, feeding off the other Dreamers' fears.

Lucidity: Six-Sided Nightmares is available on Kickstarter starting June 13 for about $29 ($39 AUD), plus shipping.  Lucidity is for two to four players, ages 14 and up (although I played fine with my seven year old), and takes around 30 minutes to play.

Lucidity is a press-your-luck dice game with a dash of strategy and an awesome theme.  Games play fairly quickly and usually come down to the last turn before a winner is decided.  There is quite a bit of luck in the game, but also enough ways to mitigate the luck to keep the game interesting and exciting.
Lucidity says it's for ages 14+, but I played with kids as young as 7 with no problems.
Lucidity comes with a bag full of 80 custom, translucent dice in four colors, four large Dreamer cards, four sleep markers, four Nightmare cards, and four reference cards.  All of this packs into a pretty small form factor that will make the game easy to bring to any game night, or just out for fun!
These dice are awesome, and these are just the prototypes!
To set up the game, simply give each player a Dreamer card, sleep marker, and reference card.  Then lay out the four Nightmare cards and set the bag of 80 dice within reach of everyone.  Decide on a starting player (whoever had a bad dream last), and start playing.

On your turn the first thing you'll do is set your level of dream control.  With your sleep marker, choose one of the three sleep tracks.  Each track has three numbers - 3-5-7, 4-6-8, and 5-7-9.  You'll place the sleep marker on the smallest number of the track you choose.  Then draw that many dreams (dice) from the bag.  From these dreams you'll put two back in the bag and then roll any remaining dreams.  E.g., if you chose the 3-5-7 track you'll draw three dreams and only roll one of them, but if you chose the 4-6-8 track you'll draw four and roll two.
Start your dream on the left space of one of the sleep tracks and then grab some dreams from the bag!
After rolling the dream dice you'll resolve them.  Dreams have four different symbols on them: Power, Exhaust, Hunt, and Shadow.  Power are your points and can also be spent to try and control your dreams somewhat.  Exhaust can cause you to end your turn and possibly lose some Power.  Hunt is a rare symbol that is fairly easy to avoid (although dice with the Hunt symbols have the potential to reward a lot of Power), but too many of them can eliminate you from the game.  Shadows trigger Nightmare effects.

Dreams are resolved in a particular order: Power, then Hunt and Exhaust, and finally Shadows.  At any point you can spend a Power to reroll any or all of the unresolved dreams of that color.  The Power spent is then added to that Nightmare's card, if the Nightmare hasn't taken anyone over yet (more on this in a bit), or back in the bag otherwise.
Every step of the way there are meaningful decisions.  It all comes down to the dice,
but you always feel like you have some control.  Kind of like in your dreams!
Each type of dream has a different combination of symbols.  Blue dreams are from the Nightmare of the Depths.  These have three Shadows, two Power, and one Exhaust.  Depths Shadows will cause the Dreamer to pull another dream out of the bag at random and roll it, resolving its effects immediately (Power can still be spent to reroll this new dream, if available).  Green dreams are from the Nightmare of Envy.  These have three Power, two Shadows, and one Exhaust.  Envy Shadows will allow the next player in turn order to choose one of the Dreamer's already resolved dreams (dice already on the Dreamer's card) and have the Dreamer reroll it, resolving any effects immediately.  Yellow dreams are from the Nightmare of Imprisonment.  These have two Shadow, two Power, and two Exhaust.  Imprisonment Shadows cause you to change one already resolved Exhaust dream to its Shadow side.  This doesn't turn the dream into a Shadow, but it does make it harder to clear off your board when you rest (I'll cover resting shortly).  Red dreams are from the Nightmare of Primeval Fear.  These have two Shadows, two Power (one of which is worth two Power and the other is one Power), one Exhaust, and one Hunt.  Primeval Fear dreams are the only dreams with a Hunt side, which can potentially eliminate you from the game, but are also the only dreams with a double Power side.  Primeval Fear Shadows allow you to move any already resolved Shadow to your Hunt row, bringing you closer to elimination, but possibly keeping you from turning into a Nightmare or becoming Exhausted at an inopportune time.
There are 20 of each dream, each with different sides.  Watch out for those beasts though.  They'll hunt you down!
After resolving all your dreams you may have a choice.  If you haven't filled up a Hunt, Exhaust, or Shadow row on your card you can choose to either rest, or dream on.  If you choose to dream on you'll move your sleep marker to the next spot on the sleep track (e.g. from three to five, or from four to six in the above examples) and then repeat your turn.  If you choose to rest you can clear off all of your Exhaust dreams OR one of your Shadow dreams and then the next player takes a turn.  If you are at the end of your sleep track (seven, eight, or nine respectively), you must rest.

However, if you've filled up one of the other rows on your Dreamer card the Nightmares will start to take control.  If you've filled your Hunt row you are eliminated from the game.  This sounds pretty severe, but it actually happens pretty rarely in my experience (it only happened once in the bunch of games I played and it wasn't until the very end of the game, so I didn't actually miss any turns).  Hunt dreams are pretty easy to avoid, but the payoff for choosing Primeval Fear dreams is those double Power dreams you could rack up.  The game ends once someone has 15 Power, so getting two Power on one dream can be a pretty big boost.

If you've filled your Exhaust row you must rest, but since you are exhausted you might lose some of the Power you've built up.  Before clearing dreams off your card, draw one dream from the bag.  Any Power you have that matches the drawn dream's color is returned to the bag, along with that drawn dream, before resting.
When the Exhaust row is filled you're exhausted, but not if you become a nightmare first!
If you've filled up one of the Shadow rows for one of the Nightmares you have been taken over by that Nightmare.  You are no longer a Dreamer, but will play on as a Nightmare.  Take the nightmare card of the color Nightmare you became as well as all the Power that has been added to that Nightmare during the course of the game.  This Power goes into your Power track on your Dreamer card.  All other dreams on your card should go back into the bag.  Nightmares have different abilities and have a different sequence of steps to take on their turn.
Trying to control the nightmares only makes them stronger!
If you become a Nightmare the game isn't over.  In fact, it's just as much fun to play as a Nightmare as it is to play as a Dreamer.  Instead of rolling dreams on your turn you'll have a choice.  Either steal one Power dream in your color from any other Dreamer, or draw two dreams and send one of them to attack another Dreamer, who must roll and resolve it immediately.  This may sound a bit boring, but it's the Nightmare's abilities that make the simple turns very exciting.

Each Nightmare has a special ability that lets that player siphon Power from the other Dreamers and drive them to succumbing to the other Nightmare's quicker.  If you become the Nightmare of the Depths, any time a dreamer resolves a Shadow of the Depths, you'll get to take that Dream as a Power, then draw two dreams and give one to that Dreamer to resolve immediately.  If it's another Shadow of the Depths you can repeat this, gaining more Power and further drowning the Dreamer in Nightmares.

Becoming the Nightmare of Envy lets you steal both Shadows and Exhaust Envy dreams as Power.  Then you can either choose one dream on a Dreamer's card for them to reroll and resolve or choose a Dreamer to reroll any two dreams on their card, however you'll gain any Power they reroll.
The artwork is disturbingly awesome.
The Nightmare of Imprisonment lets you gain Power whenever a Dreamer rolls Shadow or Exhaust dreams.  Then you can move a Shadow from anywhere on that Dreamer's card to their Exhaust row, making it much harder for them to push their luck.

Finally, the Nightmare of Primeval Fear will earn you Power whenever a Dreamer rolls a Shadow or Hunt dream.  Then you can move a Shadow from that Dreamer's card to their Hunt row.  This makes the Nightmare of Primeval Fear a pretty dreadful Nightmare and one the Dreamers will want to avoid.
Primeval Fear and Imprisonment can deal death blows.
The game continues until either one player gains at least 15 Power (then everyone else gets one final turn) or all players become Nightmares (then the game ends immediately).  The player with the most Power is then the winner!
Reaching 15 or more Power ends the game, but doesn't necessarily win.
The player with the most power at the end is the winner!

Final Thoughts:
First, I have to say that I absolutely love the theme and artwork.  The artwork portrays the various nightmares horridly.  When I use horrid here it's a compliment.  The artist, William Webb, captures the spine tingling world of nightmares perfectly.  The struggle to free yourself from the Depths, the claustrophobia of Imprisonment, the beastial terror of the Primeval Fear, and the betrayal of Envy are all brought to life in the nightmare illustrations.  And the eye on the Dreamer boards is beautiful, until you look closely and see the torment there.  This game doesn't have much art, but the art that is there is excellent and, combined with the excellent dice, really brings the theme of dreams and nightmares to life.
Even in black and white the artwork is terrifying.
As we all know, though, beautiful artwork doesn't make a game great, though.  There are plenty of games out there with gorgeous artwork that are just OK, or even bad.  I'm happy to say that Lucidity: Six-Sided Nightmares is definitely not bad.  Playing the game is a joy, not a nightmare at all.  This is definitely a filler game, light enough to pull out at the beginning or end of game night, but there's just enough meat that you feel like you're actually playing a game and not just going through the motions.  I like press-your-luck games that give you options and choices, so you don't feel like you're completely a slave to the dice.
Everyone loves chucking dice, especially when they present you with decisions rather than outcomes!
Games like Zombie Dice have their place - they're good games for a bar or restaurant or even for younger kids (my son wanted Zombie Dice for his fifth birthday and loved it for a good two years before he got tired), but they don't have enough depth to really satisfy you on game night.  Lucidity gives you choices right from the very start and keeps you thinking and second guessing yourself throughout the entire game.  There are ways to mitigate the randomness of the dice, but only a little.  This adds to the tension and desperation that feeds the theme so well.  Just when you think you have control, away it all goes!  Yes, this can be frustrating at times, but it's thematic and the game is light enough where it's actually fun when that happens, whether to you or to another player.
Lucidity is fun for all ages!
When I first played Lucidity there wasn't the option to spend Power to reroll dice.  This is something that was added after I suggested it to the designer and it really moved the game to a completely new level.  It was good before that, but dreamers felt powerless after making the initial decisions on which dreams to roll.  I suggested that power gained should be able to be used to try and control the dreams rolled, since thematically that's what the game was about.  So I tried that, and it worked.  The designer, Shannon tried it, and also liked it.  So after a number of other playtests and a few tweaks to that mechanic, Shannon now has a game that feels much more immersive.  It adds to the decisions you need to make during your turn, and makes those decisions much more important.  Do you deal with getting a few Exhaust and Shadow dice?  Or do you spend your hard earned Power to play the odds and hope you can avoid those nightmares?  But spending your Power only makes the Nightmares stronger in the long run.  It also makes the strategy of purposely becoming a nightmare a critical decision as well.  The Nightmares can be very powerful, but they are much more reliant on the whim of the dice and the decisions of the other players.  If a Nightmare has built up a significant amount of power, maybe it's worth it to purposely become a Nightmare.  But do you succumb now, or hope it gets more powerful and you get another chance before someone else becomes the powerful Nightmare first.  The decisions are gut wrenching at times, and sometimes fate just has other plans for you.
Deciding how to resolve the dice is more strategic than you'll first think.
All the games were close and came down to critical decisions at the very end!
There's also plenty of interaction between players, especially after one or more players become nightmares.  Once you become a nightmare your entire involvement in the game takes on a whole new aspect.  No longer are you trying to control the dice, instead you're hoping and wishing for the downfall of your opponents more than ever, since their failure is your success.  This might not be a feeling for everyone, but if you're game, it's an incredibly fun feeling.  I wouldn't really call it take-that since you're not actively destroying your opponents, at least not much - you can steal some points and you do want to give players dice that you think will hurt them, but you're really just playing the odds and hoping their bad luck will be your good luck.
Even becoming a nightmare on your very first turn can result in an exciting, and close game!
Lucidity: Six-Sided Nightmares definitely brings out the awesome theme in a very unique, and frighteningly gorgeous way.  The game looks beautiful, plays smoothly, is interactive, and tense.  For a press-your-luck game there are a ton of choices to make, and choices that matter.  It's more than just a decision on whether or not to push your luck, these are decisions about probability, and making the best of a bad situation, and which strategy is right for you at any particular time.  There are many layers to Lucidity, and I think you'll have a ton of fun peeling them back to examine the Nightmares inside.
The prototype components were awesome.  The final game should be nothing short of incredible!
If Lucidity: Six-Sided Nightmares sounds like an interesting game, be sure to check it out on Kickstarter.  The game only costs $29 ($39 AUD) and will definitely be one you bring out again and again.  I can't wait to get my copy!  I hope the game is a wild success so that we can maybe see more types of dreams in the future.  I'd love to see the game expanded for more players, or have additional dreams that can be added (like falling, or that panicky feeling that you're back in school for a test and don't know where the class is).  Check out Lucidity on Kickstarter now!

Preliminary Rating: 8/10

This review is of a prototype game.  Components and rules are not final and are subject to change.

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GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends. Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games. Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play). I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game. Quick Reviews will only get a single rating of 1-10 (low-high) based on my first impressions of the game during my first few times playing. Hopefully I'll get more chances to play the game and will be able to give it a full review soon.

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