Board games from the late ‘80s/early ‘90s — like Mall Madness, Nightmare, and Dream Phone — have somewhat of a cult following today, decades after their release.
Dream Crush takes inspiration from classic dating games and creates a tabletop experience filled with conversation and laughter. Read our DreamCrush review to see if this game wins over your heart.
Dream Crush Overview
Dream Crush is a game for 2 to 6 players who each try to find their perfect match while also guessing who the other players will choose each round.
Initially, players only see the Crush’s photo, their name, and a little tidbit about them. However, as the game progresses, new information is revealed about the Crushes.
After 5 rounds, the player with the most correct guesses wins the game.
How To Play Dream Crush
A game of Dream Crush begins with each player taking a Scoresheet and writing in their name and the names of the other players at the table.
Next, 3 Crushes are chosen for the game. The rulebook states that the person who last went on a date (the starting player) gets to choose these 3 from the deck of Dream Crush cards; in my games, we like to mix it up and do this randomly or have each player select 1.
These 3 Crushes are placed at the top of the gameboard, above one of the 3 columns on the black background.
Then, the left column of the board is filled with facedown corresponding Milestone cards. Each round, 1 Milestone card is revealed; these serve as milestones players imagine they are experiencing with each of the 3 Crushes.
Finally, the remaining columns are filled with their respective Secret cards. Each round, the Crushes have 1 Secret card revealed, so players learn more about the Crushes as the game progresses.
Round of Play
Each round, you’ll choose the Crush you like best and then guess which Crush the other players around the table have chosen.
Since you reach different milestones and more information is revealed about each Crush throughout the game, you’ll likely bounce around from Crush to Crush.
Dream Crush is played over 5 rounds, with the steps of each round as follows:
- Reveal the next Milestone card. In round 1, the topmost card is “Gettin’ Acquainted.”
- Reveal each Crushes’ Secret card for that Milestone. In round 1, these are the pink “Accolades” cards.
- Choose your Crush and write their name on your Scoresheet under your column.
- Guess the Crush each other player will choose, writing it down on your Scoresheet.
- The starting player shares the Crush they chose and why. Then the next player does, and so on.
For each Crush you guess correctly — other than your own, of course — circle it with a heart on your Scoresheet.
At the end of a round, the starting player rotates to the next player in clockwise order. Then, a new round begins.
After 5 rounds, players count the hearts on their Scoresheet, and the player with the most wins.
Dream Crush Review
While not explicitly stated, Dream Crush is heavily influenced by the 1988 game, Heartthrob — but it reimagines the game’s original concept, making it more relatable and appealing to a broader audience.
Through and through, Dream Crush is a party game that focuses more on the social experience around the table and less on implementing strategy or tactics.
The table talk makes this game what it is — a delight!
It is so fascinating to learn why someone has chosen a specific person, and it’s so fun to guess who they’ll choose each round, especially as the game progresses and more of the Crushes’ secrets are revealed.
It’s even amusing to play and learn more about yourself. For instance, you might not know how much of a dealbreaker something is until it’s staring back at you from a Crush’s column.
Suddenly, the other 2 Crushes you’ve ignored all game don’t seem so bad.
Unlike other party games that work well to break the ice and ease new people into a gaming experience, I wouldn’t recommend playing Dream Crush with strangers.
For one, part of the game is guessing who people will choose (something that is difficult when you don’t know someone).
Also, so much of the joy of this game is discussing and learning about people you already know.
It’s less exciting when a stranger tells you it’s a dealbreaker if someone uses a handkerchief instead of facial tissue compared to your friend, who has a great story about the time she dated someone who did this.
The game includes a few variations to play Dream Crush; there are blank Secret cards for all the Milestone categories so you can add your own to the game, a variant where you play with only a Crush’s name and secrets, and an easy way to play remotely.
Dream Crush, however, doesn’t offer a change to the 2-player game; as is, it’s not much fun to play with so few options for 2 players.
A friend of mine came up with a house rule that adds more Crushes — 5 instead of 3 — that makes it more enjoyable at this player count.
Dream Crush is an excellent party game to play with friends. Not only will you laugh a lot, but you’ll come out of a game learning more about yourself and the other players around the table.