Open Seat Gaming: Ramble Review: Welcome To...
Game: Welcome To . . .
Publishers: Deep Water Games and Blue Cocker Games
Designer: Benoit Turpin
Artist: Anne Heidsieck
Main Game Mechanisms: Random and Write/Draw and Draw
Number of Players: 1-100 (as many people as have clean sheets or the player sheet app)
Game Time: 15 – 30 minutes
Welcome To . . . [Insert town name here] is a thematic randomize and write game. Everyone is competing to build the best city/community, really three streets of a 1950s Levittown-esque suburb. The houses on your streets need to be in ascending numerical order so that it's easy for the postman to deliver the mail.
In order to accomplish this, there is one deck of cards that help to guide the game. This deck has the numbers 1 through 15 on one side - there are more of the middle numbers than the outside numbers. On the other side, each card one of six symbols, which are different (optional) things that you may do to the community that you are building. You can increase the estate worths, add pools, do construction adjustments, add fences to make estates, add parks, and add Bis units ("B" labeled apartment or condo units in the US).
The deck is split into 3 even piles, with the number side face up. Then, on each turn, you flip the top card of each of the three piles into a new pile to make a number and symbol combination (see the picture above). You must place a number or you will receive a building refusal, which can lead to negative points. However, effects on the symbol side of the cards are always optional.
Also, there are city plans that give you bonuses for their completion - the basic game cards are all based on sets of estate sizes (for example, a set of 2, a set of 3, and a set of 5 - separated by fences). The first person to complete a city plan gets the higher number of points, and then the card flips to the other side; anyone else who completes that city plan gets the second (lower) number of points on the card from that point on.
The game ends when one of these three conditions are met:
- A player has three building permit refusals.
- A player has completed all three of the city plans.
- A player has built all of the houses on their streets.
There are advanced and solo variants, along with expert rules, to keep the game fresh and replayable as well.
Sarah: This game brings something different to the randomize and write genre of games. The fact that you can play it with so many people and it has a scoresheet on an app (no paper/writing utensil required!) are just a couple of things that set it apart.
The different modes aren't the only things that add to the replayability of Welcome To. All of your number and symbol (effect) pairings are random, so you will always have different choices to make, which adds to the puzzly nature of the game. Also, there are a plethora of paths to victory. Trying to optimize how you place the best of the number and symbol combinations that are available to you is very into and makes you want to try to improve with repeat plays.
The art and the theme make this game very appealing. The theme of being an architect building your little community isn't typical for a randomize and write. The theme shines through with the intricate and unique art on the scoresheets and the house number cards. All of the little touches from the art posters on the back of the player aids, the folded and faded appearance of the city plan cards give this game a huge "50's" feel as well.
Marti: I cannot get enough of Welcome To..., and not only because I have really gotten good at the spatial puzzle. The art for this game is awesome - everything from the player aides, to the building plans, and even the score sheets is reminiscent of that 1950's suburbia look, and I love the look and feel that it has.
The rules are incredibly intuitive and easy for you to understand during your first play. After just a few card flips, I got a full idea of what I was doing and how I wanted to take care of the strategy. Speaking of strategy - this game has it in spades. Obviously, there is a lot of luck based on how the cards come out and what number and symbol combinations that you get, but you have some interesting choices to make every single turn.
Roll and write (random and write) games are really a great
Try, Buy, Deny: If you want a thinky game in a short amount of time, Welcome To . . . is right up your alley and it's a buy. If you like random and writes/roll and writes/draw and draw games (I have no idea what to call them anymore), it's a buy. If you want an awesome, strategic roll and write that has almost infinite replayability, this is your game and why haven't you pre-ordered it yet?
The game has the perfect blend of luck and strategy, and it's at a great price ($25 MSRP). You get 100 sheets in the box, you have the ability to print out more, and they've said that they will have refill packs soon after the general release. Plus, you can use the app or you can print out more sheets if you need them.
Additional Details: Welcome To... is available for Gen Con Preorder for one more week (until July 20th) at Deep Water Games. They will also have limited copies for sale at the Deep Water Games booth. If you want to try before you buy, Tiffany Caires (Deep Water's Marketing Director) did 3 different live streams where you can easily play along with the game.
You can use the app (Google Play; Apple Store) or you can download and print a score sheet from BoardGameGeek. They also have shipping pre-orders available, and I believe the full release of the game in the US is in September (I'll correct this if I'm told differently).
Sarah and Marti