Eldritch Horror: Dreamlands Review - Fantasy Flight, Take Five!

Oh my word Fantasy Flight, SLOW DOWN!! It's no surprise that they chuck out expansions at a greater rate then they do actual games, but it's getting ridiculous now how unbalanced some of the devotion seems to be. Now of course you would beef up your big sellers that's understandable. But only one X-Com expansion and over 6 for Eldritch Horror and a 7th announced for the next quarter (Cities In Ruins)? Surely we can take a break and spread the love a bit? As much as I love Eldritch Horror, it's not like I can get it to the table that often in between releases!

Every single expansion to date has been a case of "more of the same", which is always a good thing for an expansion to do, but very few additional mechanics have been introduced or variations on Ancient One scenarios and I'd like for something fresh to pop up. The whole "destruction of cities" mechanic from the upcoming Cities In Ruins sounds cool and exactly what I'm looking for. A quick skim of Dreamlands doesn't seem to reveal anything new.

Big boxes mean lots of cards so give me a couple hours to figure out how I'm going to store everything and I'll be right with you. . .




Designer: Corey Konieczka, Nikki Valens
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Age: 12+
Players: 1-8 (but seriously, cap it at 4)
Time: 120-180 Minutes
RRP: £49.99


Description from the publisher:
It has been months since you saw the sunset city in a dream—towering minarets and domes, crossed by shadow and red light from the gently setting orb of fire that permanently rests outside the city. Since then, you’ve crossed these borders every night, searching for the city, hoping to set foot inside. You have seen wonders beyond compare: the sacred cats of Ulthar and the turquoise and tourmaline city of Celepha├»s that rests beneath the gingko-covered slopes of Mount Aran. You have all but abandoned your waking life, eating less and less, spending more and more time asleep. But tonight is different. There, on the silvery, blade-thin horizon between wakefulness and sleep, the black ships from the moon have finally caught up to you.
Descend into a world of sleep and splendor with The Dreamlands, the latest expansion for Eldritch Horror. For the first time, you have the chance to walk upon the sweet-smelling grass of the Enchanted Wood, travel into the Underworld, or sail off the edge of the world and voyage to the moon—this expansion introduces an entirely new side board, portraying the mystical, ethereal Dreamlands. As the realm of dreams leaks into our waking world, you’ll find eight new investigators that stand united against two insidious Ancient Ones: Altach-Nacha the Dreamweaver and Hypnos, the Lord of Sleep. With a massive array of new Spells, Conditions, Assets, Adventures, Mythos cards, and encounters for every location, The Dreamlands promises adventures unmatched by anything in the waking world.


YOUR EYES ARE GETTING HEAVY


As before there is a ton of new content in this box, enough for it to have been a standalone game in its own right. Spells, artifacts, items, conditions, investigators, encounter cards, basically if there was a pile for it originally, chances are you've just added to it. A new side board now exists for the Dreamlands which is similar to how you've seen previous side boards - some new locations and a couple of special rules. I do like however that you can perform a Rest action and potentially teleport over to the board itself. Not only does this save a lot of movement time, but it's also pretty thematic. In fact I couldn't help but get a "Nightmare on Elm Street" vibe when playing my last game against Hypnos.

Speaking of Hypnos, the new Ancient Ones introduce some new challenges particularly with Gates, but don't feel as interesting or threatening as some of the others we've seen before. The new Investigators include some familiar faces from the Arkham files that savvy players versed in the lore will recognise, though some are definitely more useful than others. Randolph the Dreamer is pretty solid, but in contrast the Scientist character is very situational and not as good.

The theme of the Dreamlands setting leads to some very imaginative encounters, but other than that it's nothing special and I personally prefer the more grounded escapades that took place in Antartica and Egypt from the other big box expansions.












A BROKEN PROMISE


The biggest issue we have though is that I feel like Fantasy Flight has broken a promise they made several years ago. Originally it was said that Eldritch Horror would be a more streamlined and accessible version of Arkham Horror and originally it was (though I still love Arkham also). But now it's just getting ridiculous with all the expansions and side boards and we're just repeating what was done before. It started off needing some more variety, we've now so gone past that point.

Added variety in the decks is great, but we already have so much, do we really need more? The chances of you recognising an encounter card from game to game are next to non-existant anyway. Many aspects from these expansions can feel a bit like clutter, the prelude cards for example felt like added complication. Not to mention that unless like me you custom build the Mythos deck for the expansion you're using, it dilutes some of the story-telling. In fact, I'm tempted to go the next mile and store my encounter cards by expansion as well. That way I construct the decks for a game based on the Ancient One I'm facing.

This is why I've always suggested that a new player should grab the small box expansions first. They add more variety without adding much complication as they don't need a whole side board to function. It just seems like it's time for Eldritch Horror to take a breather and let everyone stew in the content that's already out. I'll probably be more intrigued by Cities in Ruins for it's fresh destruction mechanic and at the end of the day, it's a small box expansion therefore it's easier to implement and cheaper to acquire.



VERDICT ON ELDRITCH HORROR: DREAMLANDS


Of course it's a no brainer that if you're a fan of the game, you're going to grab this to have more variety. But be warned, if you've been collecting the whole set to date, storage is going to become a burden and there doesn't yet exist a comprehensive storage solution on the secondary market to cope with the evergrowing influx of expansions.

It adds more variety, but doesn't really add anything new to the gameplay. The Dreamlands setting does enable some very weird and imaginative encounters to arise however, I felt more interested in digging in the depths of Antartica or delving into Egyptian tombs from the previous big box expansions as they were more grounded on Earth, but that's a personal preference.

Nothing wrong with it, but nothing that stands out from the crowd either and I'll likely opt to play one of the previous big box expansion boards/Ancient Ones over this. Grab it eventually, but I'd first go for Mountains or Pyramids. But the main verdict that can be reached here is simply "FFG, take five!"




BROKEN RATING - 6 HOURS OF NIGHTMARISH SLEEP




YOU WILL LIKE ELDRITCH HORROR: DREAMLANDS IF:



You love the game and want a complete collection.


You latch on to the mythos surrounding the Dreamlands from Lovecraftian lore.


You need another box to store everything!




YOU WILL NOT LIKE ELDRITCH HORROR: DREAMLANDS IF:



You're looking for anything new and fresh in the game mechanics.


You're taking it easy with expansion acquisition and don't own Mountains or Pyramids yet.


You've run out of storage space!





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