Zombies, Ice creams, fairy lights, and nuclear fallout zones. If that doesn’t sound like a fun town to live in then, quite frankly, you've been living under a rock!
You may already be familiar with the phenomenal flip and fill game Welcome to Your Perfect Home published by BlueCocker Games, and not just because I wax lyrical about it at any given opportunity!
But if you aren’t, then you are seriously missing out, my friends!
The full Welcome To review by fellow blogger, The Game Shelf, is available here. However, to get you in the mood to move, I will give the briefest of overviews of the basic gameplay below.
In Welcome To, you are playing an architect trying to build out your town. But not just any town, however. Your town needs to be THE destination location if you are going to be crowned the daddy of all designers!
So, how do you turn purchasers with mortgage money into precious points? Well, Your town is going to need to have sparkling swimming pools and luscious green parks aplenty for a start. Plus, if you can be the first architect to group your des res in combinations matching strict building contracts, you can sneak in some serious bonus planning points.
On each turn, you (and everybody else) will select a pair of cards from three distinct piles. Then you will write that number on any space on one of your three streets and (if desired) carry out the corresponding building action. Standard placement rules state that you can only write numbers in consecutive order from lowest to highest and you cannot duplicate a number in any one street (although, having said that, subdividing streets via roundabouts is possible but you will be justly punished through negative marking – and rightly so as who would want to live next door to a traffic circle?!). The game ends when one player achieves all three building contracts, or conversely, when somebody defaults on them all. And whoever has achieved the most points overall wins!
There are of course lots of finer details which will either score you points or take them away. But the game is a constant Jackhammer of decision making; forcing players to make tough decisions each round because every.building.counts! Some luck of the draw is in play through the combinations coming out of the three decks. But flexibility is key. And this game gives you just enough space to think you can strategise out of a building control no-no before throwing you into another construction conundrum.
It is a rare grade 1* game; a flip and fill with a strong theme, and I love it! Multiplayer. Solo. In the flesh or over the internet. I don’t care. This game has me hooked.
And when I found out there were expansions available to the base game. I had to have them. And I do. All SEVEN of them!
Am I crazy? Probably, but not for that reason. Each little box offers a new gaming experience but with the benefit of already knowing 99% of the rules. Another highly thematic board, another set of very unique building contracts, and another opportunity to challenge myself with the flip of three cards.
But for those of you wanting more Welcome To action but not quite ready to go all-in (just give it time), which one(s) should you choose?
Well, that is where I can help you, friends.
I’ve generously volunteered to play them all this month (oh the agony!) and give you the low-down on the high-rise.
So without further ado, let’s break ground and get plotting!
In this variant, the bonus city plan cards are all about making your town sparkle like a winter wonderland. However, mo’ lights can also mean mo’ problems for some streets!
As the three special cards almost contradict each other in terms of objectives, it is a merry miracle that you get to choose just one to use as the no.3 contract in a game. Unless you’re Christmas crazy like us and play with just the three festive plans in which case you really will need to focus on one or two plans.
If you are shooting for the complete street light-up bonanza show plan, then you will have to work out fairly early on which tactic you are going for. The longer, more point heavy highway, or the shorter but more achievable points parade.
I really liked this expansion. The snowy board definitely had me excited for Christmas which, given that we are only in March, is a pretty good achievement on the part of the designer!
Bunnies, daffodils, chicks, and chocolate. The cute, cuddly side of Easter shines out of this colourful expansion. Yett hides a brutal challenge that will have players going loopy. Literally! With contracts that are either dependent upon collecting or abstaining from delicious eggs, this can be one brain burning bunny!
At first sight, collecting eggs (in addition to the usual des res desirables of pools and parks) looks quite straightforward. Some houses have one egg printed on them, others two. Simple, you think as you plan to allocate an appropriate number and reap the delicious rewards.
However, not so fast, my egger architects. In order to gorge on these rich treats, you can only use numbers that include a loop. Even then the number of eggs collected is restricted by the precise number chosen. For example, placing a 6,9,16 on any available egg space will reward a maximum of one egg whereas a 0,8,10 will secure a double yolker on a spot showing two eggs.
It is definitely worth going for eggs, but keep an eye on how many are in your basket for there are huge bonuses available if you can collect 14 or 18 overall – much more valuable than the contracts.
With high numbers of points available in Easter Egg hunt, this variant gets my brain scrambled in the best way!
Summer is here! Summer is here! Ok, so it’s not technically summer yet. However, in Welcome To Ice Cream Truck, it's definitely time to slap on the suntan cream and eat our own bodyweight in ’99s!
Like Bondi Beach, this variant is hot, it's crunchy, and there is a lot going on! Whilst the format is the same, the introduction of a travelling ice cream truck on top of the usual contracts and town attractions, is similar to the standalone Welcome to Las Vegas, as discussed in the honourable mentions below. You're able to gobble up single, double, and triple scoop scoring bonuses. This is only if you’re filling in door numbers as they go in the same direction as Mr Whippy gave me serious brain freeze!
If you try to play all three summer contracts, deciding between strategies in this expansion is dazzlingly difficult, and makes choosing the perfect sun lounger on your holiday getaway seem like a Bahamian breeze.
Mixing in just one certainly gives a lower risk of sunstroke, but the burn is still going to be there. This is because the summer contracts seem tantalisingly achievable. Until, you realise that each ice cream truck is going in precisely the wrong direction to your numbers! Whilst that may mean you can get close enough to lick the drips off the zero ice cream cone estate contract, winning feels like a mystifying mirage.
I love this expansion and, as I ponder and panic over which numbers to choose, I can actually feel a heat haze rising above my overcooked brain!
Zombies. Wait, what? Zombie! Well, that’s just grand because zombies aren’t going to hit real estate prices, now are they? Are they...?
I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the bravest person when it comes to horror, and zombies are right up there in the premium gore-stakes. Whilst the thematic efforts gone to by Benoit and his team are appreciated, these zombies give me the heebie-jeebies!
Building barricades to stop the infection; this expansion is high-stakes survival mode, especially with the new time element added in.
The race is definitely on to protect inhabitants by flipping fences over and keeping the undead out in time to stop the spread.
Although, that makes separating the streets into neighbourhoods and completing contracts mind meltingly tricky, I did feel like a responsible architect for saving the souls inside my houses! If all else fails, you can concentrate on collecting bullets in the ultimate weapon against these Z-list house guests!
Haunted houses and spooky sweets. Nothing screams, family friendly neighbourhood like tiny vampires and little monsters running down suburban streets festooned with candle-lit pumpkins. Nevertheless, dear gamers, this holiday themed expansion has plenty of tricks nestled amongst its treats.
Unlike the base game, this expansion includes a series of additional bonuses that can only be gobbled up by the first player to achieve them. You can’t be too greedy though as only one ghost and one candy-corn bonus per person is allowed. Like a latex mummy mask, they introduce yet another layer of push-you-luck gambling into the game. Play it safe and you’ll get a treat-size bag of extras (one extra park or pool, for example). Risk knocking on a few more doors before you scurry home, and you could score a big sharing-sized points haul. Or you could miss the mark entirely. Spooktastic!
The bonus city cards are a trickier affair, but mixing one in with two base contracts made it slightly less of a monstrous task to achieve! (If you are up for a scare, however, try playing all 3 at once – it is a hilariously hellish task!). I did find the instructions a little unclear in this one. Although, this was an easy fix by heading over to the forum section of the Boardgamegeek webpage. While this was a little bit frustrating, I love the artwork on the boards and there is enough spooky strategy to keep me coming back to Halloween.
Eep! The end of the world is coming! Get to a nuclear bomb-shelter ASAP! Whereas Christmas Lights was all about making your town sparkle, this expansion is all about making sure there are enough residents left to turn the lights back on after the smoke clouds have dissipated!
With contracts heavy on shelters, this variation is a preservation means points bonanza. There is a big bonus for the first player to save fifty residents, and huge boosters up for grabs for the player who saves the most people in every street. However, there is also a small 10 point boost for the player who rushes the least number of residents into the shelters overall. Because of the considerable points difference between the optimist and the pessimist, this can be a little swingy at two players but, with three or more players, this is another great thematic option.
In the midst of the Pandemic last year, the designers and publishers released a free expansion to Welcome To as a generous gift to gamers; Quack. What’s even better, it is still available to download on boardgamegeek! Another sweetly themed version, players must reunite wayward ducklings with their parents though making unbroken chains of circled ducks.
Again, like Halloween, there are bigger bonus points for the first person to lead specific colour ducklings back to their mummy mallard or daddy drake. But in another twist (and a way to mitigate runaway leads), if the same architect catches all the ducklings, each player immediately receives a point for every duckling connected to their parent – awwww.
Although the contract cards don’t have massive point scores, the one you add into the mix is probably still worth reaching for, especially as it can be achieved even if the circled ducklings aren’t safely back under their parent’s wing. This was a fun twist on the original Welcome To. As a gift to us die-hard fans, there is no reason not to have it in your collection.
Welcome To New Las Vegas didn’t make this list because it is not an expansion to the original Welcome To. It is in fact a standalone game with a different theme and a host of extra twists and turns. If
You’d like to know more about it, click here to read the full review by fellow blogger, Jim Cohen.
Welcome to La Petit Mort
Due to licensing restrictions in place between the UK and France, the eponymous La Petite Mort (which is based upon the comic book by Davy Mourier) is unfortunately unavailable to purchase here in the UK. This situation may change, as you can probably guess, I will be sure to let you know if it does!
Welcome to Alexis Solo (US only)
Although Welcome To works brilliantly as a solo game (those 27 turns are brutal! Haha), there is a standalone automa which takes the single player experience to another level (or should I say 5 levels as they increase in difficulty!). The automa is truly great, although the scoring rules for it can be a little involved (plus availability in the UK is almost non-existent). On that basis, unless you have “beaten the game” in terms of the base solo experience, there is plenty of mileage in the included single player version to keep Welcome To fans puzzling away day after day without getting bored.