Counting Zzzzs Review
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Players: 2-4 (ages 10+)

It’s difficult for many of us to get a good night’s sleep. Neighbors are screaming or partying at 2 a.m. Maybe a dreadful nightmare is haunting us. There’s so much beyond our control. Now there’s a card game that reflects this common malady.

Counting Zzzzs is marketed as a “surreal card game.” Players are each dealt five cards: Element cards or Action cards. Element cards are people, places, things, or verbs. Each has positive or negative point values, and some have extra points when played with other cards. Action cards—Benders, Blocks, and Wakeups—give further instructions. Benders instruct a player to make a one-time bending of the rules, as stated on the card. Blocks are used to block the actions of another player. Wake Ups end a dream and force a player to total his or her points.

Players place a card face up to start their dream. Other players can add an Action card to their own dream or an Element to another player’s dream, as long as the card could be a natural sequence of that dream.

Sound simple? Well, some Element cards have both positive and negative points. For example, the top of one card is “Grand Canyon” (+2 points) and the bottom is “Gaping Chasm” (-2 points). Does it mean that I have the choice on how to play it? Context cards are placed sideways until an Action card forces the card positive or negative. Wow—I need a tutor! A game shouldn’t be this difficult to understand. My teenagers and I argued because we couldn’t agree on what the cards and rules meant. After a few unsuccessful attempts to play this card game, we did agree on one point: Counting Zzzzs may be surreal, but it’s also a very confusing game.

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