Welcome To…Your Perfect Home: Estates Analysis
Welcome To… is one amazing game. We have already played it a lot this year, and have played it with various sized groups. It has become a verifiable hit, in much the same way Onitama was last year.
For those who know it, Welcome To… is also a fairly mathy game. It is about using various different methods to score points – whether that is by building estates, increasing real estate investments, by building pools, or by building parks. You can also complete objectives, and hire temp agency workers, as well as gain minus points. There are a lot of different ways to play and to win. Today, I wanted to look at a few in a bit more detail.
To be precise, I have played a few games where either myself or another player have tried to max out a number of estates. This analysis started off as a question, namely: “which set of estates is best to go for?”
Like a lot of board game analysis however, it isn’t quite that simple, and we end up taking a detour through “Oh so that means that” Fields and “What the heck? I didn’t think of that!” Forest on the way to our Perfect Homes.
So today, dear reader, I thought I would show you a “never before seen” view of what it is like behind the scenes at Start Your Meeples. Due to the facts the sheets are just standard sheets of paper that you write on, I was able to use one to do a large chunk of the working out physically on the game – and here it is –
So, it wasn’t quite as simple as I thought it would be, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun or interesting – so let’s go through the results.
Please note – throughout this article I refer to cards and this is for clarity. When talking about the number of cards needed I am actually referring to the number of rounds or plays. In Welcome To… you actually play two cards a turn – a number and an action; however, for the sake of this article I have referred to those two cards together as “card”. I hope this doesn’t cause too much confusion. It was either that or refer to “playing plays played” which felt like the greater of two evils.
Welcome To…Your Perfect Home Analysis: Which Are The Best Things To Go For?
So, one of the things about Welcome To… is that there are so many different ways to win. We can look at the estates and say “well, there are five ways of scoring an estate of four based on differing levels of real estate investment, how can we judge this?”
Well, I am glad you ask dear reader, because it is here we look at one of the basic principles behind this analysis.
We are looking at maxing out estates within this article, and what that means is we can rule out a few different ways of scoring. Instead, taking both this principle and an example, we look at the four house estates and note three truths:
- The maximum number of four house estates you can have is 7.
- This, in this case, will take 6 cards (you can fit two four house estates in the top row, with two houses left over, two in the second row with three houses left over, and three four house estates in the bottom row. This last one only uses two fences/surveyors with no houses left over)
- To max out the scoring this is an additional 4 cards needed.
What this means is that the maximum number of points you can get is 56 points at the cost of 10 cards.
The Issue With One House Estates
Okay, so it isn’t quite that simple. We need to take into account 1 estates and the fact there are only 18 surveyor cards. For this we need to look at how many turns there will be in the game and how regularly we’ll cycle through the piles.
At a maximum you will play 35 rounds in the game (32 houses plus 3 non placement rounds…or 33 houses and 2 non-placement rounds. Please note – this assumes maximum efficiency and, as either the 33rd house or 3rd non placement will end the game, it isn’t counting both of those possibilities within the same sum). You can play a grand total of 33 cards full stop before you run out of space, but you may have an additional two rounds to find what you need.
There are 81 cards in the game split into three piles of 27 cards (of which you will play 25 since the top card is flipped when you play, and the bottom card won’t be counted), and so you will go through the pile at least once in a maximised game. You will get a maximum of 18 surveyors in the first deck of 27 cards, assuming none of the fences come up simultaneously forcing you to choose between them. In the second set it is possible for 6 to come up. That means you can make a maximum of 24 one house estates maximum.
That means it is 25 cards to maximise your one estate game – as you need to invest one with the Real Estate Agent card to have each house give +2 points. That means 25 cards gets 72 points. Not bad. It leave 9 houses left, and those may also make up their own estates.
So, What Are The Different Estate Values Worth?
Using that logic it is now possible to work out how much each estate is worth if you manage to max it out, as well as how many cards are needed to max out each estate.
I like graphs. Graphs are nice and colourful and make articles like this look better – so let’s plot these to see what they look like.
Now, what we can see here is actually really interesting. The most points comes from maxing out the one house estates, and building six house estates seems like a good idea but doesn’t actually get you that many points. That being said, maxing out the one house estates also means that you spend a lot of cards doing so. What this means is that we can actually plot the ROI of number of cards needed to points you gain per card.
For this I’ve added in Parks and Pools as well to get a wider picture in the chart above, but as you can see the best ROI actually comes from five house estates and not six. You can build a five house estate six times (two in each row) and maximise the points for 10 cards. That’s five surveyors and five real estate agents. It gives an average of 6 points for every one card you use. Not bad at all.
INTERMISSION: A NOTE ON OBJECTIVES
If you are familiar with Welcome To… you will know that Objectives also play a large part in the game. These could be any point value and so I have left them out for this analysis. We’ll continue to do this, namely because it’s not actually relevant for the sake of this debate. If you are solely maximising estates then you will only be able to complete a few objectives at the same time, and they may not be worth going for.
Likewise, I haven’t included Temp Agency cards because, in theory, you can get max points from one card just as much as you can get no points for eight Temp Agency cards in a large game.
Okay, intermission over.
I’ve never done an Intermission in an article before. Wasn’t that exciting?
What is ROI and Why Does It Matter?
Believe it or not, whenever you are playing board games, your mind is always calculating what it perceives to be the ROI (return on investment) for certain moves. It is, for want of a simpler term, working out what you get back for your actions in a game. In games like Welcome To… this is especially true since turns are limited by the number of houses, meaning that you need to optimise each turn in the best way you can for most points.
So, what does a high ROI mean in this case? Well a high ROI means you get more cards to score other kinds of points. You can go for pools, parks, or temporary workers more easily than you can from a low ROI.
So, let’s look at what else you can maximise and how you can do it.
Pools and Parks
I mentioned above that Temp Agency is a bit of a tumultuous thing to try and calculate; however, Pools and Parks can easily be worked out.
There are nine pools, and that takes nine VERY SPECIFIC plays to maximise for a total of 36 points. This gives pools an ROI of 4/1.
Parks take 12 cards to Maximise for 12 points. This means there are a maximum of 42 points, and they have an ROI of 3.5/1.
Adding It All Together
So, if you want to maximise your estates and play the estate game, then you also want to get as many points as possible. What this means is looking at what you can do within the number of cards you have to play with.
Essentially, it looks like this –
Above are the different maximised combos (max Estate strategy, plus max Parks, max Pools, and then max Parks and Pools) and how many cards they take. Anything in the red zone will cost too many cards, and the further away you are the better it is as the more cards you have (in theory) to play with.
What the above shows is that it is just about possible to maximise three house estates, parks, and pools for all 33 cards. This is, for want of a better term, really difficult, but it is possible. It is impossible however to fully maximise with fewer cards.
The question is – what is each of these worth?
Well, for the below, I have removed the impossible-to-achieve combos just to make it easier to see.
It is surprising how close the above are. There are actually less than 12 points between maxing three, four, five, and six house estates, showing it does come down to objectives and Temp Agency at the end of the game. Wow, I did not actually expect it to be that close.
I suppose this shows how good and balanced a game like Welcome To… is. Theoretically, maxing out three house estates or five house estates will be the best, and five houses estates leaves you with more cards left with a better ROI to get additional points. Both leave you with the same number of open houses to play with for objectives, but going for a five house estate strategy may give you more cards to play with for Temp Agency before the end of the game (in theory). Alternatively, it leaves you with the most breathing room.
You know, it’s always odd when a game is this balanced that I can’t give an opinion as to what the definitive best strategy is. The best way to score points with estates, if you maximise them, is to go for three, four, five, or six house estates and try to maximise them with pools/parks. Any more specific than that however, and I’m afraid I can’t actually advise (so…yes…I am just pointing out the obvious). Five house estates may give you more options, but it really comes down to the Objectives and Temp Agency workers.
So, what are your thoughts? What is your favourite strategy for playing Welcome To…? Do you prefer to stick to a concept or adapt it every time? Let me know in the comments below.