Idle Remorse

Review: the Vampire Diaries

Review: the Vampire Diaries
Publisher: Pressman
Year: 2010
Tagline: The Game Based on the Hit TV Show
Players: 3 or 4

Game box is coffin shaped with images of woman laying on ground looking toward you and two boys at her side doing same

how we met

I have had this strange, coffin-shaped game in my collection for several months. I remember finding it at thrift and being unable to fight off the temptation based on box shape alone. Well, and the box indicates transformational photo frames are inside. I was sold.

how it plays

the Vampire Diaries game is won if you control the last human character amongst vampires. Humans become vampires by receiving bite marks. Bite marks are received by other players landing on certain spaces of the board on their turn.

You might open the box, as I did, and wonder if it’s missing a bunch of pieces. No, that’s just how this game is. You share a pawn. The board is little. My copy was only missing the ring, and Bill and I had just played an escape room where we had to build a ring so we just used that.

Players each start the game with one of the photos, and all photos should be set to their human form and facing the other players. On your turn, roll the dice and move the shared pawn the number of crows that you roll. If you did not roll any crows at all, even better! You get to take control of the ring, possibly even for a full moment. The ring will protect you if someone lands on the vampire bite and wants to bite your character.

Three six sided die that have crows on 3 sides each
Crows are on 50% of the dice sides

Other spaces on the board will cause you to swap characters (so don’t get too attached to anyone) or erase a vampire bite. The ring does not protect you from swapping characters.

Once a character gets three vampire bites, switch them to the vampire setting. There is no erasing those marks now: that character is a full-on vampire.

Character images have cutouts around eyes and mouth that show human features when on human setting and red eyes and fangs in vampire setting
This young lady as a human and as a vampire. The cutouts are disturbing and I love them in all the wrong ways.

The last player to have the last human character wins the Vampire Diaries!

how it went

We played the Vampire Diaries during a recent epic gaming day where we played eight different games, and this was far and away the worst one. Far and away. So of course I wanted to capture the magic for you immediately.

I am not familiar with The Vampire Diaries TV show property, and normally I would like to at least read up on it to understand how the game might resonate with fans. But I am not sure the game designer bothered to do that, so why should I?

The strange pawn is meant to be a stamp that players use to stamp bite marks on the characters. It does not contain any ink and does not appear to even be the right material to have ever had any ink. But I was prepared: we used dry erase markers to draw bites as we went. That was way more fun.

Bite mark image on a stamp
You will never convince me this was ever meant to have ink for longer than a week

the Vampire Diaries is strange because you are really just trading around the different characters endlessly. Initially John found this delightful and was asking, “Who are you? Who am I? Who are any of us?” His comment really hit home that we were merely agents the game was using to play itself.

The ring traded hands almost incessantly. Huge portions of the game consisted of just passing the ring from player to player. One time I didn’t even get the opportunity to touch the ring after winning it.

Our play showing pawn on the track and ring in center of board
This was apparently the most time the ring ever spent in one place, and thus the only photo I captured of it

Bill took on the role of ushering us through gameplay quickly, coldly, efficiently. He rushed us, pushed us, moved the pawn, moved the dice. He only ever paused to draw really inappropriate bite marks. Because otherwise the gameplay lasts forever. It may seem mean, but it’s really important to gang up on characters when you get the opportunity to bite them. Otherwise they will recover and play goes on and on and on. But it’s not so mean in this game because it’s very likely the character you draw bites on will be yours in short order anyway.

Photos of cute teens and vampires with bites drawn on them
This was our final crew and the poor boy with the J-shaped bite in his cheek became our hero. IIRC the poor boy with the pause button on his neck was second

The transformational photos did not disappoint. That’s a pretty fun novelty for a game. And in the end, Bill had the last character that did not transform and Bill won the Vampire Diaries!

play or pass

I give you pass eternal. I know many of you would have passed on this one anyway for $3. But then you may never know the frenetic fun of winning a protection ring only to have it taken from the player to your left, then seized by the player to their left, then unceremoniously tossed to the player to their left. Then landing on the floor at your feet again.

John described the gameplay of this one best when he pointed out that none of us are really a part of the game at all. We were merely suckers moving the pawn around the board and drawing imaginative vampire bites when instructed to do so (and that last bit of creativity is not even part of the original game!). Super pass!

Review: FIBBER!

Review: FIBBER!
Publisher: Maruca Industries, Inc.
Year: 1986
Tagline: The game that makes it fun to fib!
Players: 2 to 4

A family of four from the 80s in lively play over the board

how we met

FIBBER! was a recent post-pandemic purchase of mine at thrift. Bill was okay with the purchase because FIBBER! can maybe sell for a few bucks online (not much, but a few). I was happy with FIBBER! because the pieces were delightful and the cover is a lot of fun.

The four dice shakers have cartoonish faces and names via sticker
Here’s a closer look at our heroes

how it plays

In FIBBER! each player has a private dice shaker with a fun character on the front, like Tricky Tracy or Bluffing Billy. On their turn, a player shakes their dice shaker and looks into the hole to see the result of their die roll. They then announce a number that their pawn will move.

Looking down into the shaker you see a 4 on the die
My trusty die, ready for me to weave my lies. I can say I rolled anything, but I’m only guaranteed forward movement if I say 4.

If another player thinks the player is lying (ie fibbing) about their die roll they say loudly and clearly, “FIBBER!” The player reveals their die roll by removing the top part of their dice shaker. If they were truthful, the accusing player must move their pawn backward the number of spaces on the actual die while the player moves ahead. If they were fibbing, the player moves their own pawn the number of spaces on the die backward while the accusing player moves their pawn forward. Again, you only move pawns based on the actual die and not what was declared.

This is just a look at how the two pieces of the shaker fit together

There are a few special spaces on the board:

  • Double and triple point places. If you land on these by exact count then on your next turn you can double or triple your movement (unless, of course, you fib and are called out)
  • Lose turn. These spaces cause you to lose your next turn. You can move away from them by making accusations prior to your next turn.
  • Slide. If you land by exact count on a Slide space then you can immediately move to the end of the slide.
The board background is blue with mostly pink and orange spaces, a few blue and purple
A look at the board as we were starting out. Fun, right?

These special spaces demonstrate that if you fib about your roll, you might not always be trying to make it higher. You might be trying to land somewhere beneficial to you.

NOTE: Even though the pawns are oh-so-stackable, pawns can’t share a space. If you would land where a pawn already is, you go behind it instead.

The four pans stack easily on top of each other. They resemble pieces from Topple
These are begging to be stacked.

The first player to land on the Finish space by exact count wins FIBBER!

how it went

We played four player with our regular game group. FIBBER! is a simple game, so we were off and running almost immediately. I am a terrible, horrible, can’t-stop-laughing bluffer. But I think that actually served me well. I was constantly getting accused of fibbing when I really just roll sixes a bunch!

The inside of the box has spots for everything
Satisfying, is it not?

It helps to keep a close eye on where your fellow player pawns are. They are not likely to risk their own skin accusing you if they are on a Double or Triple, for instance. You can always do the obvious bluffing stuff like examining the game board before you state your die roll. There are lots of ways to mislead, but the game does not move any more quickly as a result.

We had a pretty good time but there are a few drawbacks to this game.

  1. You will likely see this in other reviews and comments on FIBBER! but the gameplay gets a bit monotonous. That road to Finish is a long and winding one.
  2. If you decide for whatever reason not to fib or accuse people, you have a pretty good shot at maintaining a strong lead. Even if you roll small numbers sometimes, you are guaranteed to move forward and not backward.
  3. In our game, we all stacked up at the end. I would assume this is common. Even my little pawn, pulling up the rear for most of the game, managed to catch up and sit in line waiting for the perfect die roll. So in the end I had just as good a shot as anyone at winning.

You would have to be nuts to fib on your final die roll to make it to the end. So we just had a few rounds of people rolling and then passing. Finally Bill was able to get his perfect roll and Bill won FIBBER!

3 of the 4 pawns lined up before the Finish space
Here we are in line at the end. It looks like my pawn wasn’t there yet, but I promise I got there.

BGG users frequently describe FIBBER! as Liar’s Dice Light or Liar’s Dice with a board. That seems fair, if they mean very light. I don’t think I’ve played Liar’s Dice since Red Dead Redemption, but I remember it as an elegant game where the rich get richer. Liar’s Dice adds an element of the unknown to play that FIBBER! is missing. Lying about my own roll is fine, but having to lie about yours too? That is interesting. I can probably even do it without laughing.

play or pass

Pass. Despite the cuteness of the cover and the dice shakers, FIBBER! is not immune to the drawbacks of roll and move. I bet it would be a fun game to grow up with, but I thought that our one play-through was enough.

Review: The Racing Horse Game

Review: The Racing Horse Game
Publisher: CHH Games
Year: timeless (and not listed)
Tagline: A fun day at the track. . .
Players: 2 or more

Generic cover with poor color contrast shows the game board, cards, chips and dice
OK, I accidentally took a picture of the back and did not realize it right away. The cover looks identical.

how we met

I found The Racing Horse Game at thrift post-pandemic, when I finally returned to thrifting (albeit less often). When I saw it on the shelf, I saw a generic-looking box that contained a wooden racing game, almost resembling the board of Can’t Stop. Cards and betting. AND dice? I could not resist its siren song.

how it plays

From what I can gather, The Racing Horse Game goes by many names and has existed for a long time as a family go-to game. This invariably means there are multiple ways to play it.

This is a betting game, so firstly, make sure each of your players has either poker chips, dollars, dimes, quarters, popcorn kernels, or whatever your poison of choice is for a betting game.

NOTE: we played four player and used an ancient 100 poker chip set I had, and it was not nearly enough. Not nearly!

You will need a deck of cards. Remove all Aces, Kings and Jokers before shuffling and dealing. The horses number 2 through 12, so Jack is 11 and Queen is 12. In our play, each player got four cards, including the dealer. The rules I have recommend dealing all cards, but this is not a good idea at a low player count like four. You will discover why soon.

The four cards you have represent the horses that you hope to win the race.

To begin, all horses start at the gate. Four horses must be scratched and removed from the race. The dealer rolls the dice and the horse matching the number rolled (between 2 and 12) is sent to the number 1 scratched spot. The dealer repeats rolling until 3 more horses are scratched in each of the 2, 3 and 4 spots. As this scratching takes place, players remove those cards from their hands.

The horses lined up at starting gate
This image shows all the horses lined up at the gate, and you can see the scratched horses will move back to the appropriate scratched space: 1, 2, 3 or 4. And yes, those are star stickers.

Once this is complete, the dealer starts the race by rolling once again. If they roll one of the non-scratched horses, they move that horse up one space and closer to victory. If they roll a scratched horse, they must pay into the pot either 1, 2, 3 or 4 depending upon which place the horse is in the scratched list.

Here is the start of play, with horses starting to get on the move

The next player then rolls the dice and repeats this, either paying into the pot or moving a horse forward. The numbers that are less likely to be rolled have fewer spaces to move, much like Can’t Stop. The first horse to reach the end of their track wins this race! And players with a card matching the winning horse win the pot! Players that did not have a winning card must pay into the pot for each card in their hand. THIS, my dear readers, is why dealing the entire deck would be harmful and expensive at low player counts.

If you are playing the version where you dealt four cards to each player, the players with winning cards will split the pot based on how many winning cards there are. If you dealt all the cards to the players then you will always split the pot into 4 parts and distribute to those with the winning cards. Alternatively if you have four cards you could still split the pot into four and let any parts not claimed ride into the next race.

Play continues until you get rich and leave, you get poor and leave, you fall over, you need to do some sort of chore, or some other part of life decides to call you away. Maybe the turkey is done.

how it went

We played for hours. That’s not to say this game is amazing. Let’s get into it.

The Racing Horse Game is very simple to learn, so we were all on board almost instantly. If you are starting out with a bunch of people, maybe do one single practice race where bets go directly in front of people (to easily reclaim) in order to teach the game.

A random hand with two 3's, a queen and a 4
This is a sample hand I dealt for this review. Hands do get this bad sometimes, but not that often. If we start play and someone scratches a 3, 12 or 4 I will lose those cards. I’m rooting for whatever is left after scratching, even if it is a long shot.

In true Idle Remorse fashion, both John and I ran out of chips… not instantly, but very, very quickly. And this is not our fault, really. You don’t have agency over when to bet. The game plays itself, and you are just there to see how much you win. And that’s not the hallmark of a great game, but it can still be a lot of fun.

Don’t ask me why, but I had $80 in $1s in my purse. So when John and I ran out of chips, I roughly split up the $80 into two and gave us a path forward. And there was definitely an element of excitement to having real money on the table. Especially because we both continued to do terribly.

For a large portion of our early play, Keri was winning everything. She had most of the poker chips and a lot of the $1 bills at some point. But, like I said, we played for hours.

A mess of poker chips and a big wad of $1 bills
This is Kerri’s booty in one of her high points

At some point, I think each of us was broke (some of us multiple times). We are a really chill game group so we just let those people continue play without paying in. We had gigantic swings. This game is very luck-centric.

There are times when you are so lucky that every single one of your horses gets scratched, so you know you can’t win and are just paying into the pot and rolling dice.

There are times when no one wins because no one has those cards. In these few cases we just let the pot ride into the next race.

There are plenty of times where the most commonly rolled horse, like the 7, is scratched at number 4 and you have to pay 4 chips or dollars or whatever each time you roll the most likely roll.

There are times when you have one chip left and you just manage to squeak by anyway, without losing it. Kind of like bungee jumping where it looks like you may hit the bottom but then you fly so high. But eventually you settle near the bottom again.

Another shot of one of our races where horse 7 is (somewhat predictably) about to win! Or will it be 9?!

After a great deal of play, we all discussed how this is probably not the best game ever, but we could see how it would be a traditional game that families might play around the holidays or during get-togethers. I grew up playing Tripoley at holidays with pennies, and it was so much fun. We all got why this game has staying power. The Racing Horse Game allows you to enjoy each other’s company without so directly focusing on each other, instead focusing your attention on a common thing.

I would really like to try playing this sometime with a lot of people. I’m not sure exactly how the gameplay would differ. I feel like it would be cheaper because you would simply roll fewer times in a race. And I bet when you win, you would win big, especially with more losers paying in based on their cards left.

So it’s worth saying that we played with four players, and I don’t think this game is meant to be played with so few players.

play or pass

I’m going to say The Racing Horse Game falls just this side of play. If it’s not your cup of tea, you can just limit your time playing. It’s true that this game could play itself without you, but that’s hardly the point. If you enjoy rolling dice, betting on horses, having some of your outcome be out of your control so you are a mere observer, then The Racing Horse Game is perfect for you. It’s a great way for a large group of people to pass the time and enjoy each other during gatherings.

As mentioned early on, The Racing Horse Game has many names. If you want to check it out and have trouble finding it, try Etsy too. Just google horse racing game. Most versions are made of wood. Some have the same Finish line but just change the number of spaces for each number (which is a nicer look imo).

Review: Jishaku

Review: Jishaku
Publisher: RSV Productions, Inc.
Year: 2007
Players: 1 or more
Tagline: The Game of Magnetic Action

Image shows two stones touching with lightning coming on where they touch

how we met

Jishaku is probably one of the last games I picked up at thrift before we locked down at home. It’s definitely illustrative of the random games we find at one of the local thrift shops. Prices are always $2. You might find XCOM, you might find Jishaku. You might find Can’t Stop, you might find Gargoyles. You might find Battleball, you might find Harassment The Game. You might find nothing.

These are all true stories, but the point is that one day I found Jishaku at my local thrift shop. The game looked strange and magnetic. I am often intimidated by abstract games. I am just not sure I have the attention span to be successful at them. But abstract games also come in all shapes and sizes, and they often interest me. I was excited to check Jishaku out.

how it plays

Jishaku consists of 18 rather strong magnetic stones and a foam playing field with (in my version) 22 spaces to place a stone. The winning conditions depend upon which version you decide to play.

Middle of gameplay with stones laid throughout the blue playing field
This is our game mid play

Jishaku does a nice job with their instructions, and they provide multiple ways to play. The rules outline the strategy of the game, which probably can’t be overstated: It is important where you place your stone as well as how you place your stone.

There are four games offered in the instructions:

  1. I’m Out! – I would consider this version a default since it is emphasized a bit in the rules. Split the stones between the players and take turns placing one stone at a time in the playing field. If one or more stones attach to yours or any others during your turn, add those to your hand. The first player to declare they are out of stones to place wins I’m Out!
  2. Elimination – this version seems very similar to I’m Out! except that you get points whenever stones get attached. The first player to 10 points is eliminated. If you have more players keep playing until a last player is left, and they win Elimination!
  3. Roundup – this version sounds fun because the goal is to place ten stones as a team prior to starting play. Then on your turn place one of your remaining stones with the goal of attracting as many other stones as you can. So this version flips and makes attracting stones a positive. Take one point for each stone you attract. First player to 12 points wins!
  4. Solitaire – this version is very simple. You are alone with 18 magnetic stones and 22 foam holes. See how many stones you can place without any connecting. Very few can place all 18!

how it went

Bill and I played Jishaku recently on a rainy Saturday afternoon. We played the I’m Out! version before just randomly playing with and testing our magnets. Although Jishaku provides four different versions of gameplay, I’m Out! and Elimination are essentially the same. Roundup is even more dependent upon who goes first. And Solitaire seems challenging and fine.

My hand holding 9 magnetic stones
This is my beginning hand of magnets. There are nine.

These magnetic stones are very strong. Before we started play Bill was noticing the stones reacting to their surroundings, most likely some screw or other metal bit in the underside of our ancient dining room table. In order to minimize any disruption we put the playing area on top of the box to extend the distance between our magnetic stones and the underside of the table.

So we all know the basics of magnets, right? They have north and south poles. The opposite poles attract each other and the same poles repel each other. When you have stones that are magnetic, it’s not always clear where those poles are unless you are able to test them out in advance.

You will never know (unless something happens to give it away) how your opponent is placing their stone from a magnetic perspective. The best you can do is use the other magnets in your hand to understand the basics of the stone you are placing, then pay attention to how any surrounding stones react. And trust me, they react.

You can try to place your stones so that the strong side faces down, but that only works for magnets whose poles are lined up according to your inner knowledge. If we have the same “stick” of eight or nine magnets and mine is facing one way while yours is facing another we may be on two opposite pages as we place stones.

Here is another shot of our play

There are some fun and clever reviews of Jishaku on BGG. BGG user @robertlahue even went to the trouble of measuring the distance at which the stones will generally react to one another, with the ultimate conclusion that the playing board makes certain placements near impossible. I understand one of the responses to this review too: the game is supposed to be challenging.

The distance from which the stones will almost inevitably react is where you need to try and force your opponent to place. But even if you get to really know what you are doing, your success seems to depend a great deal on whether or not you went first.

BGG user @rjbeeth seems to be a fan of the game but suggests buying more magnets will make it so that the first person to make a mistake is not necessarily the loser. That makes a lot of sense.

What I enjoyed most about Jishaku was the tension. The magnets are strong, so waiting to see if they jump together feels very tense. Will they pinch my fingers? So exciting!

My hand with 10 magnetic stones at the end of play
This is my ending hand of magnets. There are ten. Whomp whomp

I had a pretty big oops at some point in our play and it gave Bill enough runway to be able to place every stone he had left before I could really do anything about it. And Bill won Jishaku!

play or pass

Pass. I might actually encourage you to pick up Jishaku if you see it at thrift because it’s so unique. The gameplay is simple and I do enjoy the tension. But Jishaku dared to ask the question: can strategy overpower magnetic force? The answer in our play was no. Once the board hits a critical mass of stones, there’s no real safe placement and you can’t recover. The magnets win every time.

Review: California Dreams

Review: California Dreams
Publisher: Pressman
Year: 1993
Players: 2 to 4
Tagline: Be the one to help the “CALIFORNIA DREAMS” reach the top of the music charts…and win!

The band members in a photo together

how we met

I believe I may have already mentioned the wonderful thrift stop where I found California Dreams in a past post. It was the same trip where I found a complete, dirt cheap copy of Roller Coaster Tycoon and my first copy of Murder, She Wrote. That is a pretty good stop!

I did not know much about California Dreams the television show, but I do know a little something about my ability to withstand a great board game cover. And I think you do too. I was thrilled to add California Dreams to my shelf of shame for the next several months.

how it plays

The goal of California Dreams is to have the most points in the end, indicating that you were very helpful to the band as they climb their way to the top! Then you win!

California Dreams throws a couple of unique things at you right off the bat. For one thing, the player with the shortest hair goes first. For another thing, you do not have a dedicated pawn; all pawns are in play all the time. The first step is to get them out of the Garage, so if you roll a number you can move whatever band member. Once they are all out of the Garage, you must always move the band member that is furthest behind – or choose between any that are tied for last place. Move them that number of spaces and follow the directions for the space you land on.

The pawns and dice for you to see

Here are some spaces on the board:

  • SECRET DREAMS space: draw the top card from the SECRET DREAMS deck and read it out loud. Then secretly set aside your answer A, B, or C. Then each player will verbally say what they thought you picked. If anyone matched with you, they get one check for the band member you moved. You get 1 point plus another bonus 1 for each match. If no one matches, well, that’s a bummer!
Cards include things like "What is the best quality in your dream guy/gal? Good looks, sense of humor or great personality
California Dreams brings you all the hard-hitting questions
  • LUCKY STAR space: draw the top card from the LUCKY STAR deck and read it out loud. This one is a bit of a crap shoot. Each player places their bet using their LUCKY STAR TOKEN on the face of the band member that they think matches. Then the spinner is spun and anyone that matches gets 3 points for that band member!
Card example "Someone admires your great personality! Who asks you to greet people at the door at the next band's gig?"
I’d be a great greeter! Jake said that, didn’t he?
I think Jake said I’d be a great greeter, so I’m going to put my chip on Jake
  • BATTLE OF THE BANDS space: the player moving a band member here chooses another player. Starting with the player whose turn it is, they take turns rolling the BATTLE OF THE BANDS DIE until one of them gets a “no guitar” symbol. That player loses, and the winner rolls one last time to see how many points they get for that band member.
  • CORNER spaces: if you land on a corner space by exact count, take 2 points for the band member you moved there.
  • TOP OF THE CHARTS: when you land on TOP OF THE CHARTS you get 5 points for the band member you moved there!

If you roll a SUN, take the top card of the CALIFORNIA DREAMS deck and follow the instructions. This deck gives you valuable points which you track by placing checkmarks next to the name of the band member. But watch out because this deck can also give you negative cards which award BUMMER points!

Card example includes "Bummer! Sly loses they money from a gig. Score 2 BUMMER POINTS."
Tony! Tony! Tony!

After following the directions on the CALIFORNIA DREAMS card, take another turn!

The game ends once each band member has reached the TOP OF THE CHARTS space. Then all players add up their points, subtracting any BUMMER points. The player with the most points wins!

how it went

I had not seen California Dreams prior to finding the game and only watched a couple of early episodes on YouTube after playing. This was not nearly enough info to compare gameplay with the show. So I turned to an expert, Stef of HappiMess Media (check out her hilarious and creative coloring book out now). Here was her response when I asked if she would mind sharing her experience and/or memories of the show:

“Do I MIND? I LIVE for discussing ‘90s sitcoms starring privileged, unchaperoned teens, especially ones who are in a band and get into wacky hijinks.

“Can I recall a single episode of California Dreams, though? Not at all; it was a rare treat for me to actually catch it on TV. I remember they had a dope rehearsal area, with a Beach + Trapper Keeper aesthetic. There was the tough-but-sensitive guy in the leather jacket, and the gorgeous blonde, whom I so wanted to be because she was a gorgeous blonde. And I of course recall Sly, a girl-crazy, slick-tongued schemer who finagled a role as band manager.

“How could Young Me NOT love California Dreams? Was it the most original thing? Not a chance, but it showcased close friendships with young, good-looking people and the taste of fame and freedom. There were no adults in sight, and everything took place near the Pacific Ocean. In other words, it featured all the elements that my little self aspired to—and, admittedly, what excites my adult self to this day.”

Stef of HappiMess Media

I am not sure our play revealed much of what California Dreams is all about other than the general aesthetic and very high level plot that band members want to do well with their band. But for example the LUCKY STAR space determines which character goes with which card by spinning the spinner. So while some cards specifically tie an event to a character (like UGH Sly lost all the money from the gig BUMMER!), many cards are assigned randomly to characters. Kind of an odd choice if the characters of the show are fully formed.

This is our play getting started, rounding the corner

I thought the choice to not assign individual pawns was actually pretty clever for this type of game. Sure, there’s not much strategy in having to always move the last band member on the track, but this also means you are not playing as one of the characters. So our girl Stef playing this as a young person would not be taking on a character but instead hanging out with all the band members as herself, and helping them rise to the top of the charts to boot!

The other dark photo I took of our play, probably because it cracked me up that Jake blew up his amp BUMMER!

Only one of our game group was unlucky enough to encounter BUMMER points during play, and they came in last. The rest of us were spread out a bit, and John won California Dreams!

play or pass

Not a complete bummer, but I still say pass. I think California Dreams does some interesting things with the pawn movement. I like how it places you as yourself joining the characters instead of playing as a character. But ultimately California Dreams is based too heavily on luck, even for me. I also don’t think the characters came to life in this game very well. We had a fun play through, but that was enough for me.

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