Dream Home is a game where you have the opportunity to design your own home. The outer shell is fixed, but inside you can have whatever rooms you please and furnish them however you like. It might help if you do some logical things like building a roof, having at least a bathroom, a bedroom and a kitchen and, of course, build from the ground up.
In your role as a designer you can call in help from different trades-people and use different tools, but there are other house designers looking for the same skills and equipment. You can build however you wish, but there are benefits to building larger rooms, furnishing them well and trying not to get into sticky situations where you want to build upstairs but haven’t built your basement yet!
Dream Home Gameplay
At the start of a round of Dream Home, you lay out nine cards on the central board, five room cards and four accessory cards. These cards are paired together so that when a player takes a room card they also get an accessory, the one room card not paired with an accessory grants you the first player marker for the next turn.
Players take turns taking the pairing of their choice and adding it to the house on their board. Room cards are simply slotted into one of the 12 room spaces on the board, though you have to be careful not to get stuck with nowhere to build. You can’t build a room above an empty space, so you have to build at least one room on the first floor before you can start on the second. Fortunately, if you are completely stuck you can flip a room card over and place it as an “empty room”, this gives you no points but can be used to fill in those tricky basement slots.
The accessory cards come in three types: roof cards, tools and decorations. Roof cards are collected throughout the game, at the end you choose four of them to tile the roof of your house with - in order to score extra points. Tools give you useful powers, such as being able to act before the first player one round or being able to swap the position of two of your room cards. Decorations are items such as ice-cream makers or grand pianos. These have to be added to specific rooms and are worth extra points at the end of the game.
At the end of Dream Home, rooms reward points based on what they are and how many cards they are made of. Bathrooms, for example, are always worth one point, while a living room is worth one point if you only have the one card, but four or nine if you have 2/3 of them in a row. There are also end-game bonuses for having a functional house. You get rewarded for having a bathroom on each floor, or for having a bathroom, kitchen and bedroom in your house, and also for collecting four roof cards, with even more points if you collect a matching set.
Amy’s Final Thoughts
It’s hard not to be won over by Dream Home’s wonderful art and such a great approachable theme. Every room card tells its own story, such as the living room where they are watching the Star Wars trench run, or the kitchen set up for a birthday party. There is an incredibly innocent charm that permeates the game at every level. This results in a game that is very accessible for all ages, but don’t be fooled, with an adult group the game can be cut-throat.
Dream Home is a card drafting game by nature, but quite an unusual one because you are simultaneously able to see all of your opponent’s houses and all of the rooms available this turn. Being the first player grants you an incredible amount of power over your fellow players (particularly in lower player counts when the first player gets to throw away a room/accessory pair before they take one). As such, choosing when to take the first player marker, and thereby miss out on an accessory becomes an important choice.
There is a bit of luck near the end of the game, you can often find that winning or losing is all about whether that vital card you needed appears in the final round or not. That being said, a game of Dream Home uses every single room card and every single accessory card, so you do technically always have the opportunity to make that perfect home. Assuming that the other players don’t get those cards first! Naturally, this does mean that the game loses some replayability - you are never going to see an exciting new card you haven’t seen before.
Dream Home is a great game for a gaming group that enjoys lighter games. The rules are relatively simple and make perfect sense with the theme, combined with the fast play time creates a game that is easy to play for all ability groups.
Fiona’s Final Thoughts
Dream Home is a lovely family game that I’ve seen work for a group of gamers, a mixture of adults and children and as a lighter game to introduce to new players. The artwork and component quality definitely help to make it accessible, but in addition, the game makes some thematic sense. The bonus points available for a house that would actually provide good functionality or be considered luxurious. For example, if you have a bathroom, kitchen and bedroom then at least your house works, but if you have both an upstairs and downstairs bathroom then you get even higher bonus points.
Typically, we really enjoy drafting games and Dream Home is no exception. The fact that you’re drafting a pair of cards can sometimes make your choice a little harder and more interesting. The ability to draft the first player token and just one card also makes for some interesting choices. Another twist is the inclusion of tools and helpers, meaning that you’re sometimes making a sacrifice of points now in order to get the special abilities you might use to get more points later.
Dream Home might not work for every group of gamers, but for families, I’d definitely give it a strong recommendation as an entry-level drafting game, with some aspects adding a little more complexity than a game like Best Treehouse Ever.