Game: Welcome To
Publisher: Deep Water Games
Designer: Benoit Turpin
Players: 1-100 Players
Playtime: 25 Minutes
Play Type: Roll and Write
You are an architect given the enormous task of creating the best town possible. Balance finding the right fit for each building as you compete with other architects to create the best plan. Don’t forget to add parks, pools and estates, but remember that your town must be orderly and neat. Work hard to stand out as the best architect for the job!
Welcome To is a game that focuses on the roll and write mechanic, but replaces the dice rolling with card flips. Each player is given a player sheet at the beginning of the game. This is where they will build their town and also where they will calculate their score at the end of the game.
Game play is very simple. In the center of the playing field, there will be a communal area that houses three decks of cards. Each turn, players will flip over the top card on each of these decks. It will leave a symbol card and a number card face up on each of the decks. Then players will simultaneously select one of the three combinations available, and write their selection on their town.
Rules for placement are simple, houses must be placed in ascending order from left to right in their town. There may be gaps, but the house numbers must ascend. For the most part, houses may not have duplicate numbers in a row. However, each of the symbols has a special ability that may help players place a house or help them score in the end. Let’s take a look at what each of those symbols does:
- Surveyor- This allows players to play a fence between two houses. These houses draw lines of housing estates. Housing estates are created when any number of houses are blocked in by fences. All houses must be filled in to be considered a housing estate. Many of the City Plan Cards, which are worth extra points when scoring require players to have housing estates with a specific number of houses contained in them.
- Real Estate- When players use a Real Estate Card, they may fill in one of the Real Estate spaces on their scoring card. This will affect how much each housing estate is worth at the end of the game. Players will have to select the size of housing estate they will increase the value of. Players will receive points for the smallest number showing for each housing estate at the end of the game.
- Landscaper- Player will fill in a park space on the corresponding row in which they built. During the end of the game, players will gain the smallest amount still showing for each row in the park section.
- Pool Manufacturer- If players build a pool in a space the depicts a pool in their town, they are able to mark off one of the pool boxes below starting with the smallest number. During the end of the game, the player will score points for the smallest showing number in the pool section.
- Temp Agency- Players who use the Temp Agency will be able to add or subtract 1 or 2 from the number depicted on the card. This allows players to build houses numbered 0-17, rather than the numbers depicted on the cards (1-15). In addition to adding more flexibility for placement, players will also fill in a Temp Agency space on their scoring pad. The player with the most of these filled in at the end of the game will score 7 points, the next highest scores 4 points, and the third highest will score 1 point.
- Bis- This allows players to duplicate a number on any of their rows (not just the house being placed). Players will choose a house, then place a house with the same number followed by the word bis directly next to the original house. This is the only way a row may have multiple of the same number houses on it. Players will also mark off the lowest bis number still showing on the scoring box. Players will lose points at the end of the game equal to the smallest number showing in this box.
Play will continue with players flipping cards and writing in their choices until one of three things happens. Whichever of the following criteria happens first will end the game. First, the game ends immediately when a player fills in their final house. Second, if a player completes all three of the City Plan Cards, the game ends. Finally, if a player is unable to build three times (shown by marking off their permit refusal on the scoring portion of the player sheet), the game ends immediately. Players will then complete the scoring boxes marked along the bottom of the player sheet. Sections marked in blue add points to the final score, sections marked in red subtract from the final score.
Whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins.
The components in Welcome To are very simple, but well thought out. The game comes with a deck of double sided construction cards that will be divided into three stacks during game play. I love that they are double sided and the flipping mechanic to create new combinations. This helps keep the table neater than if they had decided to have two separate decks for the symbols and the numbers. The game also includes several City Plan Cards, which help add an aspect of replayability to the game.
What I like most about Welcome To though is the set up of the player sheet. The clear symbols, and step by step scoring act almost as a player aid throughout the game. It helps new players understand what is happening without having an additional player aid next to them. The consistent use of the symbols throughout the cards, town area, and scoring adds considerably to the ease of teaching this game.
One downfall of the roll and write genre is that due to the nature of the player sheets, there is a limited number of times the game can be played without needing a replacement player sheet pad. Players who are frustrated by not being able to reuse the player sheets may seek to laminate a few them. This would allow players to play with dry erase boards indefinitely. Luckily, the game has a relatively low price point, and there are plenty of player sheets included in the base game for those not interested in laminating.
- Quick to Play
- Easy to Teach
- Family Friendly
- Simple, Thinky Strategy
- Additional Neighborhood Expansions Add Variety
- Small Portable Box
- Large Player Count
- Could be Played Remotely
- Unique Implementation of Popular Mechanic
- Limited Use Pages
- Multiplayer Solitaire
We picked up Welcome To when it was on Kickstarter for the second printing. Since it has come in, Welcome To has been our most played game of 2019 by far. There are many reasons for that, but most notably the fact that the game is quick to play but provides substantial thinky strategy appeals to my gaming group. While it is a relatively light filler game, it rewards players who think ahead and have a plan going into the game. When that plan works out, players are left feeling satisfied.
That being said, Welcome To may not appeal to gamers who want an experience with high player interaction. Throughout the game, players will mostly remain focused on their own individual towns. The only interactive elements would be the end game trigger, where players must be aware of what others are doing to know when the game might end and the Temp Agency scoring. While this may be a downfall for some, it does allow players to play with as many people as they would like. The solitaire nature of the game works well with any number of players.
It also has a unique property in that it allows players to play the game remotely. This might appeal to those who are seeking some way to engage a community from a distance, because one person could own the game and stream the cards, while others could play the same game elsewhere on their own player sheet. Due to the nature of most games, this can be difficult to organize, but Welcome To’s unique play style lends itself well to this type of game play. We intend to make use of this during our Extra Life campaign as a way to further interact with the community.
Welcome To stands out among other games with the increasingly popular roll and write mechanic. The use of a card deck provides the perfect balance between randomness and static gameplay. It allows players to plan ahead, but also forces players to adapt to the luck of the draw. With the added replayability from the various neighborhood expansion player sheets, I don’t see Welcome To losing its shine anytime soon. For those of you who have like me, enjoyed the influx of roll and write games, you won’t want to miss Welcome To. It has quickly become one of my top ten new to me games for this year.
In the Classroom
One of the great things about Welcome To’s ability to accommodate up to as many players as needed it that it works wonderfully in the classroom. Due to the family friendly nature of Welcome To, and the easy to explain rules, it can be implemented in the classroom in a variety of ways. Some skill sets that students could gain from Welcome To include an understanding of probability, organization and how to plan ahead.
There are a few ways to implement Welcome To in the classroom. Whatever way you choose to implement it, I suggest getting the player mat, and using a document camera to project its contents onto the board. I like having the player mat because it keeps things organized, reminds students what each of the symbols does, and includes the frequency of each house number.
I could see using Welcome To in two different ways in the classroom. The first would be as a brain break or time filler during transition times. When playing in this format, students would have a player sheet that they would slowly fill in as time allows. The teacher would draw 1-2 combinations at time, and let students fill those in. This would allow students something to look forward to, and also wouldn’t take very much time from class. Make sure if you go this route that you place the used cards aside, so that they are not being mixed back into the deck immediately. Some students may dislike this method because it may be difficult for them to remember their strategy between sessions.
The other way that Welcome To could be implemented is to have a full lesson designed around it. This would be dependant on what your curriculum is, but I could easily see using Welcome To to design a lesson around probability of numbers or organization. The expansion neighborhood player sheets may also lend themselves to a fun themed holiday activity with educational value. There are currently Halloween and Winter themed player sheets, but I hope in the future that other player sheets may come available that would be appropriate in a school setting.
In my classroom, I intend to use Welcome To in conjunction with my teaching of 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey. Specifically, I want to use it to help teach students the habit, “Begin with the End in Mind” (Covey). In order to be successful in Welcome To, students have to be able to see the bigger picture and create a basic plan of how they will proceed. I intend to use Welcome To as the opener to this lesson, and have students try the game with little direction (beyond the rules themselves) to begin with. After a round we will have reflection and discussion about what went well and what they could have done to be more successful. Then, I will introduce the habit, discuss how it connects to the game, and how it connects to their lives elsewhere. After the discussion and study of the habit, we will play again. This time I will stop and explain some tips for how to plan ahead in the game, and ways to be more successful based on the information they have. After completing the game, we will have a second reflection directed towards what students did differently after learning the habit. This would be a two day lesson, taking half of my ELA block each of those days.
I would suggest using Welcome To in classroom with older students though, as I think that students in elementary school may struggle with some of the concepts. If you have not used games in the past with your students, teaching the rules may take longer than you think, so be sure to leave extra time for that portion. If you are an educator using Welcome To in the classroom for another skill, please let me know! I would love to hear how you are implementing it!