Unplugged: Pleasant Dreams

Unplugged: Pleasant Dreams

Life isn’t all about button-mashing and glowing screens. Notice how I didn’t say “games”. Life IS about games, but some times, you need to mix it up. Perhaps step away from the keyboard and play some board or card games?

If you do decide to unplug (title successfully tied into article), that doesn’t mean that you need to stop supporting Indie developers! There is a healthy community of Indie Board and Card game developers out there, and they should get just as much attention and support as the indie video game developers! So, for our very first Unplugged, we’ll take a look the Kickstarter for Pleasant Dreams, a card game about nightmares being developed by Aerjen Tamminga.

Unplugged is a reoccuring column looking at indie board and card games. Sometimes we’ll look at new Kickstarters, some times we will do reviews, and some times we’ll do interviews. It’s a grab-bag of board and card game indie goodness!

Pleasant Dreams kind of had me hook, line and sinker when I saw it: The art is gorgeous, the entire concept is wonderfully twisted, and it’s about nightmares; could it get any better? I’d been looking for a few good indie card games to add to my collection, and Pleasant Dreams was incredibly impressive to stumble upon one evening because it is so far along in development, and is so polished. The rules have been clearly explained, many examples of play are shown, and there is even a full tutorial of both the standard two player game, and a solitaire version, in Youtube video format.


Banana for Scale

The game itself plays quickly, with a match taking about 10 minutes. The entire point is to either stay awake longer than your opponent, or finish the nightmarish dream you’re trapped in before they do:

During the game, you’ll be trying to outwit your opponent by manipulating The Dreaming, and deciding whether or not to push your luck by delving deeper into the deck. In a two-player game you can influence your opponent’s dream, while in the solitaire game you just know that things will get worse. This all culminates in a fast five to ten minute experience that leaves players coming back for more.

First and foremost, an easy game that plays quickly and has clear rules will always win in my mind; Sure, 3 day long risk games are the stuff of legends, but most people won’t necessarily want to commit that kind of time. Having a game that is easy to understand, as Pleasant Dreams is, makes it an easy experience to share, and having it take only 10 minutes to play makes it one that you can share with a lot of people! What is more, we’ve all had bad dreams, so unlike a game like say Munchkin, which is so full of in-jokes that it might scare some people away (hilarious, hilarious in-jokes), its an easily relatable concept. Even with all this relatability built into it, Pleasant Dreams does not sacrifice depth, as there are very clearly tactics and strategy at work in the game

In addition, there’s a great over-arching sense of dread to the entire game, as developer Aerjen Tamminga describes below:

As a psychologist I’m intrigued by how we relate to our experiences. With Pleasant Dreams I wanted to evoke a feeling of rising tension, somewhat akin to what we feel when a dream slowly turns into a nightmare. The haunting artwork from Wayne Dorrington is what really ties the theme and mechanics of the game together.

Three Stages of "The Bear" Card

Three Stages of “The Bear” Card

At the time of writing, Pleasant Dreams has raised $5,878, almost $3,000 over its original goal of $3,000. With this additional funding, three stretch tiers have been reached, introducing three new cards: The Deep Sleep, the Shimmer, and the Dream Compass:

Now that we’ve reached $3750 in funding, I will add a new action card called “The Deep Sleep” to Pleasant Dreams. “The Deep Sleep” can be used to add a dream fragment to the dream flow of a player after they’ve filled it up.

Now that we’ve reached $4500 in funding, I will add a new action card called “Shimmer” to Pleasant Dreams. Shimmer will transform a nightmarish bear back into its peaceful counterpart and will be featuring art from the bears.

When we reach $5250, I will add the card “Dream Compass” to the game, which will help you navigate your dreams better. The “Dream Compass” allows a player to modify the order in which they resolve the dream fragments on their turn.

Those looking to add their backing to Pleasant Dreams should head over to the game’s Kickstarter, and for more information on the man behind the game and a look at his other games, head to Aerjen’s Website.


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