17 October 2018
Will the dice-roller give you bad dreams, or send you to sleep?
Dream-themed games have become an entire subgenre in the last few years, from the haunted whodunit of Mysterium to dreamy dungeon-cruncher The Shared Dream and the blindfolded surrealism of When I Dream. Lucidity is the latest addition to the club: an Australian-designed, Kickstarter-funded, dice-based tiptoe between dream and nightmare through a Morpheustic netherworld of… dice. Lots of dice.
In Lucidity you are a lucid dreamer travelling into the realm of nightmares to draw power from them. At least, that’s the theory. In practice, you’ll be drawing dice from a bag, rolling them and putting them on the relevant spaces on your player mat, depending on what you rolled.
You’re hoping for power symbols to add to your stash, because 15 of them wins you the game. Too many exhaust symbols will lose you power, too many hunts will knock you out of the game and each shadow you roll triggers an effect based on the colour of that die. Mostly they’re bad, and if you collect too many shadows of a particular colour then you’ll turn into a nightmare.
It turns out being a nightmare is not as interesting as 1990s comic books made it look. Becoming one doesn’t prevent you from winning the game; in fact, it gives you extra actions if other players roll shadow symbols of your colour, but otherwise limits your actual choices and ability to do things.
Lucidity is a simple push-your-luck dice game, bolstered by having lots of dice to push. Each turn you choose how many to roll and, once you’ve done that and put them on your sheet, you can roll more or pass. Beyond that, it’s about lining up the dice on your mat until one of the lines is full.
While rolling handfuls of dice is always fun, the dice themselves are a bit small and lacking in heft. If you’re creating a game that’s mostly about rolling dice then the dice should be nice to roll.
The game’s graphics are atmospheric and intriguing, the rules presented well and easily understood, but, despite that, Lucidity never fulfills the promise of its theme. It doesn’t feel like exploring a realm of dark visions and nightmares, or taking increasing risks to draw their power. There’s no tension or sense of journeying into danger.
The mechanics hold together but aren’t engaging; that – plus the chance of being knocked out early – suggests that, despite some nice ideas, this is a design that needed more time in playtest. There’s a little player interaction, particularly once the nightmares arrive, but if you’re looking for tactics or interesting decisions, dream on.
Most dream-themed games dwell on evoking the imagery and stories of night visions. The only symbology you’ll find in Lucidity are the ones printed on the dice.
Designer: Shannon Kelly
Artist: William Webb
Time: 20-30 minutes
This review originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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