While the genre has really taken off in recent years, Welcome To… is the first “roll n’ write” game i’ve ever covered. i may do more in the near future, including Yahtzee, which i’m sure you’re familiar with.
Hi! It’s Ryan from Nights Around a Table, and this is Welcome To…, a roll & write game for 1 to theoretically an unlimited number of players. You’d be forgiven for thinking this game is called “Welcome to Your Perfect Home,” since that’s what it says on the front of the box… or for thinking it’s called “Welcome,” since that’s what it says in the English rulebook, which starts on page 13 for some reason. Let’s just blame the translators for all of that. If you’re searching for this game on a store’s website or on Board Game Geek, punch in “Welcome To…” and it’ll come up. But this game by any other name would play the same, so let me show you how it goes!
You and your friends play architects during the baby boom of the 1950’s who are planning a new neighbourhood for development. It looks like your neighbourhood has all its houses, parks, and pools fully built, but you have to view your player mat as just a schematic – these spots merely have the potential for houses, parks, and pools, but they won’t actually get built unless you draw them in with a pen or a marker. NOT a pencil, because erasing things in this game is not cool.
Each turn, all players will have the choice of one of three houses to build on one of their three streets, and three effect options to improve their neighbourhood. The game ends when someone completes three special objectives, when someone fills up all three streets, or when someone is unable to build a house for the third time. Then, you tally up the value of your neighbourhood, and whoever has the most points, wins!
PLAYING A ROUND
There are 3 decks of cards on the table, and each round, someone flips over the top card and places it next to each deck. House numbers are on one side, and development features are on the other. The little peekaboo corner on each card tells you what’s coming up next. You have to pick one pair of these cards – you can’t mix and match between decks.
Next, you write the house number you chose into an empty box on one of your three streets. This works a little like a Sudoku puzzle: you have to write your house numbers ascending order, with the smallest over here, and the biggest over here, with no repeating numbers. The smallest house number in the decks is one, and the largest is 15. So you could put a 1 here and a 15 here, but you couldn’t put a 1 here and a 15 here. Likewise, you couldn’t put a 9 here and an 8 here – that’s not smallest to largest. You could put a 1 here and 15 here, but you’d have no room to put any other house numbers in between, so this street would be completely shot. And since numbers can’t repeat, you can’t have, like, a 5 and a 5 on the same street.
You can leave gaps, so 2 here and 5 here and 9 here is fine, and you can fill those spots in later. But be conscious of the fact that if you put a 1 here and a 3 here, you’ve really limited your options: you could only ever put a 2 here, and if a 2 doesn’t come up at the right time, you may be out of luck.
Thankfully, the other half of the pair of cards you chose gives you one of a suite of options to help you plan your neighbourhood more flexibly. Here’s what those effect cards do.
The temp agency lets you change a house number from 0 to 2 on either side. So this 4 with a temp agency could be written in as a 2, a 3, a 4, a 5, or a 6. If you write in a house number with a temp agency next to it, you can shade in one of these squares in the scoring section of your sheet. Players earn points at the end of the game for shading in the most temp agencies. Temp agencies mean that the lowest possible house number in the game is zero, if you modify a 1 or a 2, and the highest possible house number is 17.
If you build a house with a Landscaper card, you get to shade in one of these park spots on the street where you put the house. You have to shade in the parks from left to right, and they’re worth an increasing number of points at the end of the game.
If you plot a house with a Pool Manufacturer, and you’re able to put that number in a square that has a pool roughed in, you can shade in one of the pool squares in your scoring section. The more pools you build, the more points you earn. With any pair of cards you pick, don’t have to use the effect card – only writing the house number is mandatory. So if you pick a number next to a pool, and you can’t or don’t want to put that number on a house with a pool, you can still build the house – you just don’t get pool points for it. And the reverse is true: you can always write a house number on a house with a pool even without a Pool Manufacturer card next to it, but again, no pool points for you.
A Surveyor card lets you plot a fence. This is the rare case where the effect can happen on a different street than where you plot the house. Write down the house number as usual, and then draw a vertical line between properties on any of your three streets. This creates subdivisions. The rulebook calls them “estates,” but i think “subdivisions” is a better word in English. At the end of the game, subdivisions of different sizes that are completely filled with houses are worth a varying number of points. Each street has an implied fence at either end, so if you’re trying to create a 1-house subdivision, you don’t have to draw a fence here and here – you just need this one, since there’s already a fence over here.
The Real Estate Agent effect card lets you increase the value of the subdivisions you’ve roped off with fences. By default, at the end of the game, each house in a completed subdivision gets you 1 point. A subdivision is complete when all the houses between the fences are filled in. So this is a complete 4-house subdivision, worth 4 points, but this is an incomplete 2-house subdivision, so it’s worth zero. If you plot a house next to a Real Estate agent card, you can shade in one of the topmost values beneath a subdivision size of your choice, increasing the value of that subdivision size at the end of the game.
Finally, there’s the Bis effect. Bis in French is like a duplex, or adding a letter to an address, like 221b Baker Street. If you use one of these cards, you write down the house number, and then you get to repeat any house number on any street. So if it was a 2 with a Bis, after writing in the 2, if you had a 9 on this street, you could put another 9 here, or here, but not here – it has to be adjacent to an existing 9. If you pick another card with a Bis later – say, a 5 Bis – you’d write the 5, and then you could even have triple 9’s, or later, quadruple 9’s. But with every Bis effect you use, you have to shade in a bubble down here, which makes you lose more and more points by the end of the game.
Bis houses have to be part of the same subdivision, so if you had a 9 next to a fence, you could use Bis card to put a house here, but it couldn’t go here. Likewise, if you already had a duplex on a street, you couldn’t interrupt it later with a fence.
Each game, you’ll also deal out three random special objective cards. Each card has a set of requirements on it. The first player to meet all of those requirements gets the big score on the card, and then flips it over to its “approved” side; any other player who meets the requirements thereafter gets the smaller score, so there’s a race to complete them. If two or more players meet the requirements of a card on the same turn, they all score the big points, and turn the card over. You write the points you scored for each City Plan in the corresponding bubble, and if a player completes all three plans, the game ends.
There’s a set of basic plans, and some advanced plans, which are marked with an asterisk. You can play with whichever ones you want.
The basic plans all work the same: they show you a certain number of subdivisions. If you have completed those subdivisions in that quantity, on any street – same streets, different streets – doesn’t matter – you claim the points. But, you have to mark off the subdivisions you used to complete the card by drawing a line above them. Those subdivisions don’t count towards completing any other City Plan card, and you’re not allowed to split them up with a fence later on – they’re locked in place.
The advanced cards get a bit more picky. Some of them require something to happen on a specific street, like this one, which wants you to fill in every box on the longest street in your neighbourhood. Fill in the first and last houses on each street, build all of the parks and all of the pools on a certain street, build all of the parks and pools on any two streets, build 5 extensions, or hire 7 temps. If you complete a plan involving pools, those houses can also factor into other plans – houses with pools are reusable for plan purposes. This card wants you to build all of the parks and pools on a single street, plus one roundabout. Roundabouts are an advanced variant. Here’s how they work:
Before or after writing in a house number, you can build a roundabout by choosing an open lot and drawing a circle with a dot in the middle – AKA, a boob. This IS a French game, after all. Then, bookend your roundabout with fences. A roundabout turns one street into two – you can have the full range of house numbers, from 0-17, on either side of a roundabout. If you split up a street with two roundabouts, you can squeeze house numbers 0-17 into all three sections. Each time you build a roundabout, you shade one of these boxes, and building roundabouts will reduce your score at the end of the game. If you’re trying to complete a city plan where the whole street needs to be filled in, yes, a roundabout counts towards filling in your street.
The first player to complete a plan card can optionally leave the three topmost cards on the table and shuffle the remaining 78 cards together, and deal out three new decks of 26 cards each. This can happen exactly once per game.
If you can’t possibly put any of the available house numbers onto a street without breaking the rules, you have to take a mulligan. Shade in one of the Building Permit Refusal bubbles on your sheet. The game ends when one player has filled up all three streets, when someone has completed all three City Plans, or when someone has filled in all three Building Permit Refusals. You can end the game by filling your last space with a roundabout, and avoid having to take a Permit Refusal for not writing in a house number.
Here’s how to tally up your score.
Add up the points you earned for completing each City Plan.
Then, grab the lowest, leftmost unshaded value for the parks on each of the three streets, punch them in, and add them up.
Grab the lowest unshaded value for your pools. This isn’t a per-pool score – this is an absolute score for your pools.
Compare the number of temp agencies you hired against your opponents’ totals. Whoever has shaded in the most temp agencies gets 7 points. Second most gets 4 points, and third place gets 1 point. In a tie, all players get the full point value for wherever they placed.
In the Real Estate section, you count up the number of 1-unit subdivisions you have in your neighbourhood, and put that number here. You multiply it by the topmost unshaded number in that column to get your subdivision score. Repeat that process for subdivisions from 2 to 6 houses wide. A subdivision of 7 houses or more gets you nothing.
Pull down the lowest unshaded value for any Bis effects you used, any roundabouts you built, and any Building Permit Refusals you had to take. Add these numbers together, and subtract these numbers to get your final score.
If there’s a tie, the player with the most completed subdivisions wins. Still tied? Whoever has the most 1-house subdivisions takes it. STILL tied? Keep working your way up through the subdivision sizes until you find a winner. If you make it all the way to size 6 subdivisions without a winner… go buy a lottery ticket.
THE EXPERT GAME
If you want to play like a pro, put all the cards into a single deck effect-side up, and give one random player the solo card to mark him or her as the starting player. Deal out three City Plan cards as usual. Everyone individually draws three cards from the main deck and plays them face up in front of themselves. You have to pick 2 of the cards in front of you – the house number from one, and the effect from another. Write down the house number, optionally use the effect, and then you discard those two cards. When everyone’s finished plotting a house or taking a mulligan, you pass the one remaining card to the player on your right. Then, deal two more cards out to each player, beginning with the starting player, and repeat the process until the game ends.
To play Welcome To… solo, the rulebook tells you to cut the deck in half, but with 81 cards in the deck, that’s gonna be tricky. Shuffle the solo card into one mathematically impossible half of the deck, and stack the other quasi-half on top. Deal out 3 City Plan cards, and follow the same procedure as with the expert mode: pull 3 cards, and pick any two. Do the thing, and then discard all of the cards to end your turn. When you eventually hit the solo card, discard it. Flip all three city plans to their “approved” side if they’re not there already. So this mechanic imposes a time limit to get the biggest points from these cards. The game ends as usual, or when the deck runs out. If you hired 6 or more temps, you get the full 7 points – anything less than 6 temps gets you zero points for that category. The rulebook doesn’t give you any guidelines for what constitutes a good score, so i guess you’re just trying to beat whatever score you got last time. Post your best solo score in the comments section below, and maybe we can start there.
And now, you’re ready to play Welcome To…!
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[Music – Board Game Boogie by Ryan Henson Creighton]
Get Your Own Copy of Welcome To…
Ever since actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt told an interviewer he’d been playing a game called “Welcome To Your Perfect Home,” the game’s designers have – yet again – changed their tune on what the game’s actually called. You don’t even need to know the actual title, because i’ve got a link for you down below which, if you use it, will kick me back a small amount of dough.