Humankind can not dream. I would never think, that this little thing could make such a huge impact. Nobody relaxes at night and people are on the brink of their strength. But creating such stories, be it crazy or not, is not easy task at all.
In the board game Somnicum, players become dreamers. They will connect, deepen and hope, that no one will experience their inexperience. Sandman, Lord of Dreams, has disappeared and somebody has to take over. Somnicum game is presented to us by Gaga Games, and specifically by Konstantin Domashev. With the help of illustrations by Fain Khamidullin, the author presented his game at the Spiel 2017 in Essen as a novelty for that year.
Smaller black box evokes a starry night and dreams. Above human dwellings is the shadow of the man, who is wearing a cloak and a hat. But instead, only players will be the ones, who use a large pool of cards. At the beginning of the card game, players sort out dream cards and create starting circle fro them. Its members are determined by number of players and may be 16 (two players) or 24 cards (four players). Remaining dream cards create a drawing deck, as well as discovery cards. Each of the opponents gets one random card with the assignment of his secret task.
To this end, most of the participants will get magical sand token, that they should hide well. Only the starting player gets nothing at first. All these round tokens with icons and dream themes must be placed in a canvas bag, that has its place in the middle of the circle of dreams. Players place the figures of the dream pendulum in black and white opposite to each other in the circle, between two cards.
Whole match consists of three large phases divided into many rounds. Players will alternate on turn and can always move one or the other pendulum piece by any number of cards in a clockwise direction. Distance is free, but at the same time also a little bit limited, because only first three steps are free and for every further jump, player has to pay a dream sand token.
Pawn jumps in several steps and ends its movement on some of the cards, that the player can immediately take. As a result, character again finds himself in a free position and can be moved again. If a player did not use the whole movement action, he gets one or two sand tokens, that can be picked at random from the bag.
Player must immediately attach new card to his dream. This can either be extended horizontally to fit the card into one line or to deepen the dream and create a second or third layer within. Extensions can be made at any time, but cards should share at least one theme with other cards. Each card contains one to three dream particles, a gray icon corresponding to sand tokens. Players can also add a card that has nothing to do with their neighbor. But such a dream gets broken. Player marks this using a randomly drawn sand token.
Expansion can be made easier by placing a sand token on the top of the dream cards. Here, however, color of the token is also important. It must be the same. Otherwise, the player must sacrifice two tokens to place one icon. All this can be done at the beginning of each turn, before laying card. At the same time, the player can prepare the ground for his own turn.
It is possible to deepen only that part of the dream, that is not broken. It goes from the left, so the player can place the newly acquired card under the first unbroken pair. By doing that, he creates a reversed pyramid and new card does not have to share any topic with the cards above. So players can later create the third and deepest level of dreams.
If a player adds a card with a question mark, he can earn an exploration card (he will choose from two or three cards) as a reward. This can then be used at any time to activate their effect once. Round ends, when the circle has just as many cards left as there are players. Then players need to add new card into the circle and duel continues.
At the end of the third round, players are required to score points for their achievements. Here comes in play number of stars on each dream card, which corresponds to their value. The sum of the stars in the top row corresponds to the number of these stars, while in the second row, players multiply them by two and in the third deepest by three. To do this, players will add points for unused discovery cards and dream particles, that were target of their secret objective. The one player, who has the most points, becomes the winner.
Somnicum reminds you a bit of a great movie Inception. Here too, you will lay one dream on the other to create the best and deepest experience. To be true is everything for the players, at least on the first, most striking level.
Creating dreams from cards is a great theme. However, players are far from being able to control their chances, because at the beginning of the first round, they are dependent on luck and bad luck. And just the first moves can eventually decide the overall winner. But this level of coincidence is just what many players will not enjoy at all.
So you have to approach Somnicum as a lighter entertainment. This is despite the fact that the interconnection of cards is quite well thought out and entertaining. Need to work with each card immediately coincides with that, although it is possible to prepare for the next cards by adding magical sand tokens.
There is no conflict at all in the game. Everyone creates dreams on their own sand and players fight a bit at a distance, even at the same table. There is no joint offer or the possibility for some offense. So it does not really matter, if you play with more or less players. The number of cards to choose from in each round increases and playing time is slightly higher, but nothing essential changes.
Game also speaks with real dreamy graphics. It uses interesting color combinations and transitions. There are, of course, interesting paper icons on specific topics, which are called dreamlike particles.
Somnicum is very nice looking and ultimately a solid card game, which has a nice theme and in addition provides really interesting gameplay. Unfortunately, all the opponents sit at the same table, but they do not know each other too much. Somnicum is such a solitary card game about building dreams.
Somnicum is a card game, in which players will take on three layers of dreams to send them to the world of people. It is necessary to link the themes of the universe, the underwater world and the fairy tales, that seem to be unconnected. Yet there are elements, that make it possible to link them together to create a coherent story. But no one will tell, you just have to put your cards right, have a good bit of luck and get most points. Unfortunatelly, there is no way to influence others, but Somnicum is still very much fun.