Welcome to… Postwar America! Confident that a bright and prosperous future now lies ahead, America’s population experiences an exponential growth – the so-called “Baby Boom”. To provide affordable housing for the numerous young families, investors take on large building projects in the cities’ suburbs. In Welcome to you play as rival architects; each allotted 3 suburban streets to develop into a congenial residential area. Will you become the architect of the future?
What is Welcome to like?
Welcome to is a roll and write game in which the dice are substituted by cards. Every turn players will simultaneously choose 1 out of 3 different card combos and perform a two-fold action. The game ends by a player completing all three public City plans or when someone passes for the 3rd time. Higher points get awarded to the player that completes a City plan first which results in an exciting race. Yet clever use of the numerous bonus actions lets players pave alternative paths to victory.
Playing the game
All players receive a score pad. 3 randomly drawn City plans are put on display and the shuffled deck of Construction cards is divided into 3 stacks.
The Construction cards are double-sided with one side showing a house number and the other side showing a bonus action. Every turn the top cards of each stack get flipped over creating 3 action combos. Players simultaneously choose 1 out of those 3 available sets and perform the actions on their sheets. Multiple players may pick the same set. First, everyone must build by writing the chosen house number in an available plot. Players can skip house plots, but, from left to right, the numbers in each of their 3 streets need to be in ascending order.
Next the optional bonus action may be carried out. Some bonus actions provide ways for scoring, other offer flexibility when building a house:
- Hiring a Landscaper makes a player check one of the trees in the street where he/she just built a house. The more trees, the more points.
- Hiring a Surveyor makes a player draw a fence between to house plots. Houses within a fenced area form an estate. The size of an estate determines its point value.
- Using a Real Estate Agent a player can increase the values of different sized estates he/she has built.
- Hiring a Pool Manufacturer lets a player build a pool if he/she can write the associated house number in a house plot with a planned pool. The more pools, the more points.
- By making use of a Temp Agency a player may adjust the associated house number with +/-0,1 or 2. End game bonus points are awarded to the player that used the most Temp agents and for coming in 2nd and 3rd.
- Using the BIS actions allows a player to duplicate a house number on any street, but generates penalty points.
Building is obligatory and when a player can’t jot a number in an empty plot he/she needs to pass. If a player can’t build, he/she can’t perform the bonus action.
In the advanced mode players draft construction cards. Everybody draws 3 and picks 2. The leftover card is passed on to the player on the right. I prefer the regular gameplay however as players then shape their personal strategies with the same tools.
I’m a big fan of the roll and write-genre. There’s this nostalgic feel to scribbling with pen on paper. Nevertheless these little designs can hold a lot of innovation and ingenuity. “Welcome to… is not the first in exchanging dice for cards. What elevates Welcome to is the splendid theme and graphic design. Yes, it’s fun to cleverly write numbers in boxes, hence the success of “Qwixx” and “Qwinto”, just to name a few . But modelling your own perfect neighborhood with a few pen strokes is intensely more satisfying. I appreciate that designer Benoit Turpin and publisher Blue Cocker Games didn’t only seek depth in gameplay but also in theme by giving it a historical setting. I had an interesting read on the American postwar baby boom at https://www.history.com/topics/baby-boomers.
- Variable player modes (solo, regular and advanced rules)
- Supports a big player count
- The score pads are printed single-sided
Welcome to is a deceptively deep game for its simple rule set. Looking at its facade it may seem a straightforward race to complete the public goals. Nonetheless a one-sided focus on completing the City plans may end you in ruins. It’s a point salad in which the 6 bonus actions offer plenty room for personal strategy. Parks, pools and estates can be giant point generators, but which one will you address as there’s never time to realize it all? Especially the Pool manufacturer will tempt you into skipping empty plots to write a house number in a designated spot. But do the extra points the pool produces weigh up against the future building limitations you now caused on yourself? When the walls come crumbling down there’s the BIS action that allows 2 houses to be built in one turn. Handy to hastily fill up plots in a rush to the Public goals? Well, don’t forget that every BIS culminates penalty points. A nifty detail is that by a symbol in the cards’ corners the bonus actions for the next round are already visible.
Players: 1-100 (Technically possible, though I prefer a player count in which I can keep an eye on my opponents.)
Playing time: 25 minutes
Suggested age: 10+