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Dreams of Yesterday - A Preview

I recently received a preview copy of the micro game Dreams of Yesterday, and I have spent the last few weeks playing through it several times. The copy I received was a pre-production copy and some things may change before final production. It plays 1-3 players in about 30 minutes. The box says ages 8 plus which I would say is about right. But a little history and context on the game first.

The Dreams of Tomorrow box shows Earth surrounded by a rainbow with a person standing in silhouette on a hill looking at the Earth

Dreams of Tomorrow was released in 2019 and provided a unique take on set collection via its theme and mechanics. The theme was that you were people of the future, Dream Engineers to be specific, who were sending fragments of dreams back to people of our time in order to help us change the future. Really, it was an odd theme and only really played out well when you built a perfect set in order to get the most points. The artwork was quite nice and the gameplay was interesting in that there were twists and turns to how to get your resources in order to get your sets. Plus, although other players might get in your way, they may also provide bonuses along the way. I especially enjoyed the very short story at the end of the Dream Journal and Glossary by Calvin Wong; it was unnecessary but quite added to the experience of the game.

Dreams of Yesterday is essentially a deck of cards - the front shows a rainbow background with an urn

Now it's 2023 and we are about to get another game in the same universe as Dreams of Tomorrow. This game is Dreams of Yesterday. Players are competing to build the best museum exhibits to help their visitors learn about the past and learn from it. In game terms, it is your goal to make the most impactful museum. What's impact? It's victory points, clear and simple. Even in the rules I received, it says players receive points. This leads to the theme feeling like somewhat of a paste on while the first game (Dream of Tomorrow) was incredibly thematic. Despite that small fault, I think I actually like this micro better for a few reasons.

In order to play the game, you will give players a resource card and an artifact card to start. This is done at random, and the cards are double sided. In a one or two player game, you randomly remove 5 cards from the deck which adds a nice bit of re-playability to the game. The central market is called the histories and uses an abstracted movement system that draws on the first game without using any tokens. I quite liked this simplicity. Players can either take resources for free or pay for artifacts which are then added to the first or second "floor" of their abstracted museums.

The histories, here shown for a 1 or 2 player game, are essentially a rotating market where you can get the next one or two cards via simulated movement. Three cards are shown on top two cards on bottom with an empty space between them.

As players build out the exhibits in their museum they can gain up to 21 points for getting a set of artifacts. The Diverse Discovery cards are wild cards which add to these sets, but they do not score for Urns which complete an exhibit floor. Urns are cards which show victory points in the lower left corner and also an additional way to gain victory points. For example, the Histories picture shows and Urn in the lower right which scores 3 points plus 1 point for every Cultural Curiosity (we just called these portraits). On that note, most things in the game have names and there was an attempt at theme, but it didn't really add anything and we just called them what we wanted to at the time.

Players can only use the ability on the right most card in an Exhibit. This card with a portrait and an Okapi grants a permanent cash resource bonus as long as it is uncovered.

As players build out their sets in Exhibits, they will be looking to see what cards they can gain on future turns. This balancing act of availability and planning is where the game really shines. It becomes a game of pacing and watching out for what your competitors may do as they put cards into the Histories market. They may just make it harder for you to get what you need without doing any harm to themselves. Of course there is mitigation, but it will cost you.

The solo game provides a challenge, or not, depending on how randomness works against you. The bot is just a puzzle to manage to try to get more points as it changes the Histories. I like the solo game ok, but it doesn't do quite as much as I would want as it essentially a random blocker.

It did get take a few plays to get used to a couple of the symbols without referencing the rulebook as some symbols are slightly different than some people might expect. They weren't directly counter-intuitive, just a little unexpected.

Dreams of Yesterday excels at driving pacing during set collection. If a game like that can somehow be both chill and competitive, I think this one achieved that status The game rewards a bit of planning and strategy, but also is light enough to not be bogged down in a bunch of rules and complicated interactions.

I would highly recommend this game to those who like a two player game in a small form factor. After a couple of plays, you will be able memorize most of the rules and get your games times down to about 15-20 minutes. I personally enjoy a micro game which provides decent choices without feeling like a lot of work.

Dreams of Yesterday cards in a grid pattern showing different resources like cash, books, and trophies with different artifacts like Okapi, portraits, urns, and dinosaur bones on other cards.

Dreams of Yesterday by Heather O'Neill, published by Weird Giraffe Games

Artwork by Beth Sobel

Teaching 8/10

Aesthetics 9/10

Strategy 6.5/10

Gameplay 8/10

Time 20-30 Minutes

Players 1-3


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