Welcome To…Your Perfect Home Review
Every now and then a game surprises you. Sometimes this is for the worst, and a game you were looking forward to playing just fails to reach expectations. Alternatively, you may think a game looks like you won’t enjoy it, only for it to blindside you when you play it. You go into a game thinking one thing, only for it to be something completely and wonderfully different.
Such is the case for a little game by French designer Benoit Turpin. In it you have to choose a house number and place it, in numerical order, in a street you are trying to develop to be the perfect little American suburbia. It doesn’t look hugely exciting, and the box insert is horrifically poor, and yet, underneath it all Welcome To… (also known as Welcome To…Your Perfect Home) is a fantastic, addictive, and surprisingly enjoyable game.
So, today, I thought we would take a little look at Welcome To… to see what it is about the game that is making it such a great one to play.
What is Welcome To…?
Currently ranked at number 252 on Board Game Geek (the board game database) and ranked 22 in family games, Welcome To… is a game about building the perfect idyllic 1950s style housing estate in the USA. Created by Benoit Turpin, with art by Anne Heidsieck and distributed by Blue Cocker Games, Welcome To… is a paper and pencil, pattern generation game with a bit of a twist. What does this mean? Well, each player gets their own sheet and it is up to them to create houses within certain parameters to gain points.
The game is incredibly simple. Each game, every player gets one sheet (pictured below) and grabs a pen. Three piles of double sided cards are placed out in the centre of the table. On one side is a front door with a number. On the other side is a symbol denoting a secondary action. Three additional objectives are laid out, denoting different housing estate conditions. The objectives can be varied per game like with Sagrada.
Each sheet has three streets – one with 10 houses, one with 11 and one with 12. House numbers go from 1 to 15.
The top card of each pile will be turned over, revealing the backside of the card and the house number of the card below. Each player chooses one of the three combinations, i.e. one house number and one action, and applies the effect in their housing estate. By choosing a house number you are choosing to build that house and therefore mark it down inside one house on your sheet. They must be in numerical order. Where numbers may skip a few, you cannot place a number out of sequence. So:
1 – 2 – 3 – 6 – 8 – 9 – 10 – 11 – 12
The above would be fine since they are in ascending order, whereas –
6 – 5 – 1 – 3 – 8 – 9 – 4 – 10 – 12
The above would not be okay.
So, what are the actions? Well, they are actually remarkably simple.
- Fence – Fences are used to determine the housing estates in the game. You fill in a fence by drawing a line between houses, creating sets which can be anything from 1-6 houses in an estate. These help you fulfil the unique goals at the end of the game.
- Park – For the row in which you build your houses, build a park. The more parks you have in a row the more points they are worth.
- Pool – If the house has a pool in the garden (on the drawing) you can build a pool. If not then you cannot build the pool but you can still build the house.
- Bis – Bis means that if you can’t play a number but have space next to it, you can play Bis by making that number a variation. So, for instance, if 5 comes out but I can’t play it, I can write 5 Bis (or 5B) in a space next to it. These are worth negative points at the end of the game.
- Investment – These give you additional points per type of housing estate at the end of the game. For example, if you had three estates that held three houses each, you would multiply the number of estates with the corresponding investment on your sheet.
- Temp Agency – Temp Agencies allow you to manipulate the numbers on the houses by adding or subtracting 1 or 2 either way. They also get you points at the end of the game because you are helping create jobs.
The game gets played until one player can’t play any number three times, someone completes all three objectives, or someone fills every house on their estate.
What’s It Like Playing Welcome To…?
So, with all that in mind, what is it like playing Welcome To…? One of the reasons I bought Welcome To… initially is because I kept seeing it around Instagram. Several well-known board game reviewers, and a lot of other people aside, have been talking about Welcome To… and at first I didn’t get it. I couldn’t see how this one deck of cards and a sheet of paper could make such a good game.
So, back in November 2018 I decided to give it a buy to see what all the fuss was about. I have to admit – I kind of get it. It is a good game – a disposable game, granted – but it is a good game.
So, what is it like to play? Well, Welcome To… is a unique game branching into a category that is becoming more and more well known within the gaming community. Pen and paper games require you to permanently mark on a piece of paper, meaning there is a pad that comes with the game with a limited number of plays on it. It is an off-shoot of the category Roll and Write, a format that was made famous by games like the Catan and Castles of Burgundy dice games. These games mix luck and strategy to create a unique play experience.
Welcome To… is like those games but with a more original twist. This is not a variation of a pre-existing game. That being said, it too mixes luck and strategy. It is about trying to figure out how best to optimise the cards that are dealt in order to make sure you get the most points at the end of the game. This is a balancing act, but it is a fun one, and one that is well worth playing.
For a single sheet of paper, Welcome To… is a hugely thematic game. The different options do a good job of making you feel like you really are building a housing estate in 1950s America. Anne Heidsieck did a beautiful job with the artwork, and it comes across strongly throughout the game. The cards have their icons on the back, and even the player aids have these brilliant themed posters on the back. The posters either have something to do with Blue Cockers or something to do with the locations themselves. It’s a nice touch to keep the game feeling thematic.
One of the biggest strengths to Welcome To… is how much it has in common with worker placement or Eurogames. The highest score wins; however, how you get to that highest score is entirely up to you. You may decide you want to focus on building pools, or you may want to focus on parks. Alternatively, you may want to build estates, or focus on completing objectives. The list goes on, and this is a credit to the game.
Welcome To… is also really easy to learn. I first learned the rules listening to a YouTube video (this one) before reading the rules through. They are simple and easy to get your head around, and it only took a couple of minutes to teach my girlfriend for us to play.
There is this really nice aspect to Welcome To… where actually the game is about pattern generation. This means that you are physically building something and can see it come together (before your eyes) as you play. You don’t need to complete the sheet to finish or win the game, but it is incredibly pleasing (aesthetically and otherwise) either way to see it fill in.
Finally, and this is the core point, Welcome To… is a fun game. It is a game that presents a challenge in a really simple roll and write style. There is a lot of room for strategy, or you can just leave the strategy to one side and try your luck with just taking the game how it comes. It is thematic and highly enjoyable.
TL;DR: The Good, The Bad, and the Housing Development
So, what about if we break this down into Good, Bad, and Neutral points? Well, if we did it would look something like this:
- There is a strong theme running throughout Welcome To… that comes across really nicely within the artwork and mechanics of the game.
- The rules are simple, making it easy to pick up.
- In theory, the game can be played with 100 people. I would be prepared to bet that it has never been played with 100 people, but it is nice to have a game with that much scope, especially when our regular gaming group often exceeds 8 people.
- There are a lot of ways to gain points and this leads to a lot of different, very valid strategies to win. There are several different ways to focus on what you need to.
- The rule book needs a bit of work. It has a few odd choices for explaining things since (I suspect) it was translated into English rather than being written in English to begin with. The original language the rule book was written, I believe, was French.
- There isn’t a box insert or way of keeping the cards together in the box. This means we have had to stick our cards in a baggie. It’s not the worst solution, but there could be a better one.
- The sheets are one use only. There are only 100 sheets included in the box, meaning you can only play a set number of times before having to rebuy.
Conclusion: Welcome To…Your Perfect Home
So there we have it. Welcome To…Your Perfect Home is a highly enjoyable and unique game. It is easy to learn and offers up various different strategy options. Since the game only takes 25 minutes it can be played several times in a row and we’ve really enjoyed doing that. All in all Welcome To…Your Perfect Home is a great game that we are going to have to recommend.
So there you have it – the first review published this year. What are your thoughts? Have you enjoyed Welcome To… or is it a game you’d rather stay away from? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.