Back in 2017, the Roll and Write genre got a huge boost in popularity. A style of game seen as ‘basic’ suddenly became the hot property. Yahtzee is the oldest Roll and Write I can think of. While it’s a game that is well known I wouldn’t call it super popular, but its lets people understand Roll and Write as a concept quickly. Roll dice, write down results to optimise points.
And then in 2018, Welcome to appeared in a huge way. Essentially a Roll and Write, but replaces dice for cards. One side of the card shows a street number between 1 and 15, and the other an action you can take. Shuffle the deck and flip the top card, and you have a set of three numbers and powers. So the same effect as rolling dice, but cards allow more combinations without increasing the number of dice.
But why does Welcome to have you doing anything? Well, you are a developer building your suburb. You want to create a well ordered and popular building development. This is done by ordering house numbers from lowest to highest, building parks, swimming pools and groups of homes as requested.
One of the things I love about Welcome to is what I call a ‘multiplayer solitaire’ game. You do what you do, and you solve the puzzle of points optimisation on your own. No one can do anything to sabotage you or mess with your score. This takes a lot of pressure off many players. Welcome to becomes a challenge of the highest score on your own skill.
And puzzle it is. Put a high numbered house to early in the row, and you lose placement opportunities. Building pools is good, and the more you build the more you score, but the house numbers and locations are scarce. Do you build a park and boost a score, or build a fence and group houses for points? Which serves you better?
You can see what other players are doing, and the choice of three options helps you avoid painting yourself in too much of a corner. But as I said, there is nothing anyone can do to you to mess with you. You won’t be forced to place something that hurts you, or picking something you don’t want in Welcome to. The most you can do is try and complete a set of houses before someone else – that’s it.
If there was a digital version of Welcome to, it would have a permanent place on my phone/computer. As a puzzle, it scratches a lot of itches for me. At the moment on my phone, Elder Sign: Omens takes this roll, but it’s a bit too involved for me to destress with. Welcome to doesn’t have this issue.
On Board Game arena and on the physical table, I have only ever played the ‘basic’ rules. There are many other options in terms of how to play. These include more complicated planning objectives, roundabouts and even keeping specific cards. One day, I might give them a go.
But if this intrigues you at all, have a look at Welcome to on YouTube for a rules explanation, and try it on Board Game Arena!