The Cardboard Hoard: Review of Lucidity
Lucidity: Six-Sided Nightmares is a small-box competitive push-your-luck game designed by Shannon Kelly that plays one to four players in fifteen to twenty minutes. It was originally published by Fox Tale Games, with a Kickstarter that successfully funded in July of 2017, and is being released in retail by Renegade Game Studios.
Like many push-your-luck games, Lucidity features fist-fulls of dice. Unlike many of them, Lucidity goes to great lengths to sell its theme, including the fact that its 80 dice are all custom faces focusing on the nightmare theme. Also aiding to sell the theme is the vivid, colorful artwork by William Webb. While I am personally rather ambivalent toward horror themes in general, I appreciate that Lucidity successfully pulled off this hallucinatory nightmare theme without resorting to a dark, difficult to play color palette.
In Lucidity, players will be entering the dream world, “a world of vivid hallucinations and horrific monsters,” as Dreamers. The goal of the game is to gather fifteen power from the dream world without being corrupted by Nightmares. Players that are corrupted aren’t eliminated, however. They become the Nightmares they were corrupted by, and will try to steal power from other Dreamers playing.
The dreams are represented with dice that come in four colors, each representing a distinct terror -- blue is “The Depths,” green is “Envy,” yellow is “Imprisonment,” and red is “Primeval Fear.” Each die color has a unique distribution of die faces. The yellow dice have two “Exhaust” faces that can force you to end your turn, while the other colors each have one “Exhaust” face. The red dice, which are the highest risk-reward of the lot, are the only dice that have a “Hunt” face, which can eliminate you from the game, but are also the only dice that have a face worth 2 power, in addition to having a face worth 1 power. The blue dice each have three “Shadow” faces, while the other colors each have two per die.
“Shadow” faces need to be placed with the shadows of that color, and trigger a special action relating to that color. Adding a “Shadow” to the blue row, for example, forces that player to immediately draw and roll another dream die. Having too many shadows of any color is what causes players to become corrupted into Nightmares, which change how they play, although the win condition of acquiring fifteen power remains the same.
A player’s turn begins with them choosing how deeply to dream, which in terms of the game’s mechanics means how many dice they will randomly draw from the dice bag -- either three, four, or five. They will then draw dice, returning any two they like to the bag, and roll the remaining dice. Power will get placed in the power row, as will “Hunt,” “Exhaust,” and “Shadow” dice faces. The player, if they are not eliminated, exhausted, or corrupted, may continue this again up to two more times, drawing one more die than they did previously. When they either choose to stop, or are forced to stop by the dice, the play moves to the next player to their left, and this continues until someone gets to fifteen power, or all players become Nightmares, in which case the player with the highest power wins.
As is probably clear from the gameplay description, going on a hot streak with the dice can win someone the game very quickly, and going cold can quickly corrupt, exhaust, or eliminate someone just as easily. However, due to the quick-playing, lighter nature of the game, this isn’t as big an issue as with longer, heavier fare.
Pros: Lucidity is a small box game with a fairly small footprint, making it portable. It features very high quality production value, with custom dice, a dice bag, and unique artwork -- including four prints of the game’s nightmare art in the box. The twist of having players that push too far become Nightmares and continue playing is nice, as it does not eliminate players from the game -- although acquiring four Hunt dice does eliminate a player from the game. The dice rolling is mitigated before the dice are rolled, and can be mitigated after the dice are rolled -- although at the high cost of one’s power. The game comes with a fifth advanced Nightmare that can be substituted in for added variety. I appreciate the game using the inside of the box lid for FAQ and overlooked rules. The game has a solo mode, and it plays differently depending on which of the Nightmares you play against, and also features a hard mode to ramp up the solo difficulty.
Cons: While I don’t mind a game playing quickly, especially a dice-chucking, push-your-luck filler, this game tends to feel over almost as soon as it gets going -- playing too quickly to feel rewarding. The mechanism of getting corrupted and turning into a Nightmare is supposed to be a punishment for pushing too hard, and, hence, something players are supposed to want to avoid, but there are situations in games where turning into a Nightmare can be advantageous, even instantly winning that player the game. The theme could be creepy and off-putting to some, especially younger kids, and the game is listed as being for ages 14+.
Lucidity: Six-Sided Nightmares is a step more complex than basic dice-rolling push-your-luck games such as Can’t Stop, Zombie Dice, and Deep Sea Adventure, and commits harder to its theme than any of those games. While the game play does not feature any new earth-shattering mechanisms, it has a few interesting twists for fans of the push-your-luck genre, and is worth a play at least for those that love that type of game. Personally, I enjoyed this game best at two players, but didn’t love the solo mode enough to keep it to play alone. Overall, I didn’t find Lucidity unique enough to warrant a place in my collection, and am passing it along to other reviewers that will hopefully enjoy it more.
Full disclosure: I received a review copy of Lucidity: Six-Sided Nightmares from Renegade Game Studios.