There is only one dream factory and it’s not the one you think it should be. Films can not replace the power of human imagination, which accepts broadcasting from a strictly guarded site. We do not even know, where it is. They are brought us there blindfolded and our report began before its gates. This is, how its location is secret. It is a place, where only a few chosen ones can get.
Resulting journalist report brings us into a world of board game called Imaginarium. The designer pair Bruno Cathala and Florian Sirieix set out on the dream journey, and the Bombyx company produced their idea from scraps. From here, the finished game went out into the world and the faithful form of it was provided by Felideus Bubastis. The expansion of the encyclopedia of dreams in Europe is taked care of by Esdevium Games.
On the lid we can see a fantastic scene that includes an elephant, gear wheels, a winged piggy bank and a host of other elements. It looks a bit like a photograph of a place, but because it’s dreams, we can never be sure about that. Inside, we find that wood, copper, and crystals are needed to make dreams. They are filled in a cardboard container together with charcoal cubes. This whole reserve has to be placed at the center of the workshop. On the conveyor belt at the bottom, there is place for random machine cards, four card assistants will be ready to start the game at the top and project room on the left is filled with other random cards. Players get each their own miniature of worker and places it on the order track.
The choice of the pieces will also determine looks of player’s own workshop and screen, that the player will take. They will find details of their faction’s starting resources on their board. This includes not only raw materials, but also starting machines, which will be placed just below their workshops. Then every participant receives a set of his six tokens and hides them behind his screen.
Players get one at a time through the whole round and gradually plan work for their laborers at the beginning of each round. They place their own pieces either in front of one machine on the conveyor belt, or assigns it to the coal extraction team. In that moment, however, machines that have players in their possession (and are repaired) have worked long and hard and now it is time to collect their regular fruit. Machinery usually produces raw materials, but it does not apply universally. There are also those, that can be used in combat, both for attack and for defense.
Then the players call up their workers by name and they finish, what they have sent them to do. They will bring either black coal cubes back home or bring new machine. However, it is necessary to pay for it with this black currency, which does not reflect any light. But in spite of all the care during transport, each device will arrive broken to their workshop, so its card must be placed horizontally for now.
When everyone changes and evaluates their plans, attention turns back to the workshops. They offer a total of six actions, of which only two can be used in each round. And the choice is not quite free, because the players are dependent on two rotating joined hands connected to their board. That is why only some pre-given pairs of actions are possible. However, the player can choose the order, in which he will do them.
First option is to repair machine, so participant can immediately use it. Such a functional device must immediately be placed on one of the free places inside workshop. Alternatively, player can decide to dismantle the entire machine to the last screw. He will receive a raw material corresponding to its value in return. Machines can also be combined with each other, improving them, but above all freeing a precious place in the workshop. Players can trade their raw materials, even for victory points. For finance, they can then hire assistants, that provide some interesting skills.
This is all done by all players at the same time, and before he finishes his move and attempts to occupy the best position on the order scale (the sooner he finishes, the better), he has to check, if he succeeded in meeting requirements of any of the projects. Game ends, when one of the players gathers at least twenty points. But that does not mean he can celebrate victory. A two-point reward awaits those who have the most raw material hidden behind their screen. Only after they have been credited is the moment, when can holder of the highest total win the whole main prize.
Imaginarium looks at first glance as a fairly complex game. But when you break it up and start playing, you will find that you do not have much to do at all. The overall refill is simple and easy to handle. And here is0 where the ice breaks with those interested in the game, because whoever takes it with the expectation of a heavy and thoughtful game, will be disappointed. And on the other hand, beginners might be overwhelmed by seemingly complex rulebook.
In addition, the game itself is not really fun. It’s not quite bad just because the players all deal with the machine at the same time, but there is no extra step towards entertainment. Something that would differentiate the game and made it a real experience. This is all about nice pictures.
It’s just a real-time phase, that gives players a bit of a shot, because who will finish early will have the advantage in the next round. This tension is also the brightest moment of Imaginarium. The only thing left is building a workshop and converting raw materials. And there is also not much ways to get the winning points.
But if you forget the originality of the race, Imaginarium remains a good entertainment for a circle of casual players. If they succeed in learning it. From the point of view of building a raw material machine that should be better suited, it will have its competition in the form of a simple and popular Splendor. Compared to it, it has more significant production value, but there will be also higher price tag involved.
The overall processing is this time a bit of a two-sided weapon. Everybody has really fantastic pictures, that are on the verge of realism and somewhere beyond the classic steampunk. For a number of players, it can just be beyond the limit of taste, but a lot of players, on the contrary, will greatly appreciate its originality. Quality of the materials is the highlight as well as beautiful figures of workers.
As for the progress of the game, less experienced players need to count over one hour, even in lower numbers. Unfortunately, the lowest number – two – requires quite a significant impact on the gameplay to even work. And the very praised element of the struggle for order here is not so important. Instead, there will be chance of sabotage, and for the first time and the most important conflict will enter the game.
Imaginarium is ultimately quite a controversial game. Among our editors, we found players, who liked it very much and boldly compared it with similar games available in our country (already mentioned Splendor or Century: Spice Road). And then there is the second camp, that criticizes it for a number of shortcomings. Imaginarium is a game you should try before you buy it.
+ everyone plays at the same time
+ speed determines the order for the next round
+ excellent processing
- in two very different
- longer game time
- controversial graphics
- lack of ways to winning points