Game: Welcome To...

Release Year: 2018

Publisher: Blue Cocker Games

Designer: Benoit Turpin

Player Count: 1 to 100 players

Play Time: About 20 to 30 minutes

Rules Complexity: Simple

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Back in 2018, designer Benoit Turpin and publisher Blue Cocker Games stunned the board gaming world with the sucker punch that is Welcome To... (which confusingly also goes by the name Welcome To... Your Perfect Home), a game where all you really do is fill out boxes on a sheet of paper.

People have been filling out sheets for entertainment since the 1800s with crossword puzzles, sudoku puzzles, and Yahtzee. But along came Welcome To..., sparking a new genre that's flourishing today: the flip-and-write game.

So, five years later, how does it hold up? Let's dive in!

This review is based on my own personal copy of Welcome To..., which I bought for $15 from a small online retailer. It's the 2020 edition. Also, I laminated a few sheets to be played with dry erase markers.

The Gist of Welcome To...

In Welcome To..., you're an architect in the 1950s with the goal of designing the best neighborhood. What that really means is filling out your personal sheet with the right numbers and checking off different features that score in various ways.

Here's the essence of Welcome To...: fill boxes with numbers in ascending order. The problem is, you fill one number per turn and the numbers are randomized, so you need to avoid boxing yourself out!

Every player has an identical sheet to fill out. This sheet consists of three rows of boxes, with each box representing a house on a street. The streets are of different lengths—10, 11, and 12 houses, respectively—but otherwise behave in the same way. That's the first major component.

Every turn, you have three options. These options determine which number you can fill on your sheet, plus an optional effect that can help you score even more points.

The second major component are the cards, which have numbers on one side and effects on the other. Two cards are always paired together to form an action: the number that you must use to fill in a house, plus an effect that you may or may not choose to use (but you will use 99% of the time).

The main effect is the ability to build a fence between two houses. Fences are used to group houses together into estates, with each estate earning points based on how many houses are grouped together. Another effect lets you increase how many points you earn from different estate sizes.

The six different effects in Welcome To... allow you to alter and advance your neighborhood in various ways.

Two effects provides other avenues for pursuing points. One lets you build parks on each street, with a big bonus for maxing them out. The other lets you build pools when you fill in a house, with each additional pool in your neighborhood worth increasingly more points.

The final two effects provide flexibility. One lets you adjust the paired number up or two by up to two values, which really helps when you're running out of houses. The other lets you duplicate an existing house into an adjacent house, which is invaluable when you accidentally leave too large of a gap between houses.

Each effect shows up multiple times during play. You'll want to use all of them, but you can never do everything you want to do—so picking and choosing the right ones is half the game.

So, every turn, you always have three actions to choose from, meaning three distinct pairs of numbers and effects. Then, when everyone has acted, each number is flipped over to become the effect on its opposite side while also revealing the next number card under it, thus forming new action pairs.

Now, here's the core rule that binds it all together: All of the houses on a street must adhere to ascending order, but not necessarily consecutive order. Also, streets cannot have duplicate house numbers.

Making sure your streets stay in ascending order is harder than it seems, but there's enough flexibility built into the gameplay that it never feels frustrating or unfair.

So, the goal is to pick the actions that allow you to fill in your houses while also activating effects to score in various ways. Too many errors and you'll be unable to fill in houses, you'll lose points, and you may even end the game prematurely!

And there's one last piece that adds just enough spice to elevate it all: shared goal cards that reward bonus points for building your neighborhood in certain ways. The first to complete one of these goals gets extra points, so players have one more thing to consider when they're choosing how to fill out their houses.

The Core Experience

Welcome To... is basically bingo but fun. It takes the best parts of bingo and wraps it all up in a layer of gameplay that's as engaging, satisfying, and pleasant as solving a difficult crossword or sudoku puzzle, but without any of the stress.

Like bingo, everyone fills out their own sheets using a shared number—except in this case, players make choices between three shared numbers. Unlike bingo, which basically plays itself and success is predetermined by your sheet, Welcome To... gives players a decision to make on every turn. A fun, juicy, impactful decision.

Welcome To... is bingo with tough decisions. Everyone has their own sheet and everyone faces the same decision every turn, but those decisions will quickly diverge and result in contrasting paths.

This game is all about doing the best with what you're given. The cards flip to reveal numbers and you need to pick one to slot into one of your streets. You only have three to choose from, so there's very little analysis paralysis here. And since houses need to be filled in ascending order, each number only has a few playable houses that make sense, further reducing the likelihood of analysis paralysis.

You can plan ahead to some degree, like making sure you leave enough room between houses so that a future action can fit in there, but it's not the kind of game where you're thinking several steps ahead. At most, you can look ahead to the next turn because the number cards have hints as to what effects they'll turn into, but even then you don't know what number they'll be paired with.

Welcome To... is not the game for long-term strategies, for devising a plan and sticking with it to the end. It's about risk management. It's about constant pivoting and reassessment. It's about setting yourself up for success, playing the odds, and trying not to step on your own feet as you dance around your sheet.

On the very first turn of Welcome To..., the possibilities are endless. But this very turn will become the foundation that informs all subsequent turns, and that's always exciting.

You see, at the start of any game of Welcome To..., the possibilities are endless. Everyone has the exact same blank sheet of potential. You can choose any action, place any house on any street, activate any effect—but players will inevitably choose different actions, so everyone's sheets quickly diverge with every turn.

With every house you fill in, you lock yourself into a slightly more restrictive sheet with fewer options. At the same time, the effects you activated in previous turns dictate which effects you want to activate in the future.

If you've already built four parks on the long street, then you only need one more park to score that big bonus. But what if that street only has one empty house left and it's between a 12 and a 14? Are you going to wait for another park effect to show up and hope it's paired with a 13? Or are you going to take that 13 that just showed up even if it isn't paired with a park effect, thus abandoning that parks bonus?

My middle street needs a 13 and a park, but when this 13 finally shows up, it's paired with a fence. Should I risk waiting for another 13 and hope it's paired with a park? Or do I just take what I can get now?

There are so many interesting decisions like that in Welcome To..., and it all stems from that sort of domino effect where every decision stacks on top of previous decisions. On any given turn, you're simultaneously trying to solve the puzzle created by past you while making sure you don't screw up future you. Meanwhile, you're tempted to do everything—pools, parks, fences—and you inevitably end up trying to do too much. You can't do everything.

And so there's even a little bit of a push-your-luck feel. How long are you going to hold out for that 9-with-a-pool-effect that you've been waiting on for 15 minutes already? And when that 9-with-a-pool-effect does finally show up, it's as exciting as hitting triple sevens on a slot machine. You feel like a genius for holding out, for braving the odds, for making the right decision.

It's surprisingly thrilling when you've boxed yourself into needing one specific combination—like this 9 paired with a pool—and you're waiting for it turn after turn... and it actually shows up!

To be clear, none of this is stressful. Even when you're forced to make a tough choice, you're always making progress. If you abandon that final park and lose out on that park bonus, it's because you were able to fill in that house with something else. That's still satisfying. That still feels good!

Sure, you may regret taking certain actions on past turns that put yourself in such situations, but you know you only have yourself to blame. Plus, everyone is playing off the same card reveals, so it never feels unfair or unlucky. One person's good turn is another's bad turn, but it may very well be the opposite on the very next turn.

At its core, Welcome To... is a game of wrangling chaos. The cards show up, you do the best you can with them, and you compare your results with everyone else at the end. It's a series of increasingly interesting decisions, one after another, until you finally run out of houses to fill and get to see how it turns out.

Despite facing the same decisions every turn, player scores can differ by a lot—and when you lose, you can always recall several turns that came back to bite you in the butt in retrospect.

If there's one downside to Welcome To..., it's the lack of player interaction. Like bingo, you're playing on your own sheet and you have zero influence over anyone else's sheet. There's one effect that grants bonus points if you've used it more times than anyone else, but otherwise it's essentially a solo experience.

I don't mind this, though. Welcome To... lends itself to a meditative sort of experience that's fun precisely because no one can encroach on my sheet.

The Repeat Experience

Welcome To... is one of my most replayed games.

It may just be a series of simple decisions, but what makes each decision so interesting is that they're never made in a vacuum.

When I'm presented with three actions on a turn, I'm choosing which one best fits my current sheet. Even if I were presented with those same exact three actions in a separate game—or even in a later turn!—the puzzle would be totally different because the "right action" is informed by the state of my sheet.

One set of options, two different sheets. The decision-making process for each player is unique because those decisions depend on how they've developed their sheets over the course of the game.

What this means is that Welcome To... is a puzzle game with near-infinite replayability. No two sheet states are ever the same, so no two decisions are ever the same. If you like the core gameplay of choosing between three actions, of slotting numbers into ascending order, of facing the unpredictable and trying to do the best with whatever comes your way, then Welcome To... will never grow stale.

And I haven't even mentioned the clever card design. Any number can be paired with any effect, so the pool of potential actions is vast. The thing is, you're always being pulled in two directions: you need certain numbers for houses and you need certain effects for scoring. More often than not, you don't get the perfect pairing of number and effect—so, you have to compromise.

I need that park for my bottom street, but I also need that 13 for that same spot. This happens a lot where you don't get exactly what you need and must decide whether to hold out for a better option that may not come.

Being forced to compromise time and time again makes you wonder if you could've done something differently. The very nature of compromise means you're giving something up, but are you giving up the right thing? You'll never know!

At the end of every game, I can't help but wonder if I would've done better if I had made different compromises... and that just makes me want to try again.

One random goal card from each of the three sets is used per play, and these goal cards inject Welcome To... with that final bit of spice that keeps it interesting from play to play.

Lastly, there are the goal cards. Every game is played with three random goals that gently nudge your neighborhood planning in different directions.

For example, in a recent play, one of the goal cards was to create six different 1-house estates. To do that, you need to use a lot of fences. I tend to use parks and pools and neglect fences, so this encouraged me to deviate from my usual picks—and I like that. I could've ignored the goal card completely and stuck with parks and pools, but of course that would've meant foregoing those delicious goal card points.

All in all, every game of Welcome To... feels satisfyingly different even though you're still playing the same core game. These elements come together to ensure that the turn-by-turn decisions remain interesting and don't grow stale.



In Welcome To..., the roundabout is a special ability you can use up to twice during a game. It's a double-edged sword that offers flexibility and potential for higher scoring, but can hurt you as easily as it can help you.

A roundabout takes the space of a house, adding a fence on either side of that house and dividing the street, allowing you to restart house numbers from 1 to the right of the roundabout. Seems pretty nifty, yeah?

Roundabouts in Welcome To... are great if you want more flexibility and freedom in your streets. If you like the tension in the core game, you'll probably want to play without them.

The downside of a roundabout is that you lose one of your precious houses, bringing you one house closer to ending the game. Constructing a roundabout also deducts points, with the first roundabout costing 3 points and the second costing 5 points. Two "free" fences can be great, but you need to make them count.

For me, roundabouts broaden the gameplay just a little too much. I find the extra flexibility undermines the puzzly nature and deflates some of the tension that starts to build during the mid-game. They aren't terrible, but I prefer to play without them.

Expert Mode

Welcome To... has an oft-neglected Expert Mode that increases player interaction by shifting it from a bingo-style game (where everyone plays from the same set of possible actions every turn) into a select-and-pass game.

In Expert Mode, everyone starts with their own hand of 3 cards and must choose one for its number and one for its effect. Then, everyone passes their unused cards to the player on their right. Then, everyone draws two more cards and repeats.

It's a neat idea, but one that falls flat in practice. You're always going to choose the best two cards for your own sheet, so the card that gets passed to your neighbor is essentially random. It just makes no sense to first pick which card you're going to send to your neighbor, only to hamstring yourself.

But more importantly, Welcome To... is most interesting when everyone is playing from the same cards. Everyone is dealt the same obstacles, and that's what gives the final score comparison meaning. When everyone is playing from their own hand of cards instead, the final scores come down to luck.

Solo Mode

Welcome To... can be played solo without many tweaks—and it works pretty well. It feels a lot like sitting down to work on a crossword or sudoku puzzle, except without the stress of feeling stupid if you get stuck.

To play solo, you play with one big deck instead of splitting it into three piles. Draw three, choose one for its number, one for its effect, and discard the last one.

The basic solo mode in Welcome To... is almost identical to the main game but slightly streamlined.

You also shuffle in a "solo card" into the bottom half of the deck; when that solo card appears, all of the goal cards flip to their claimed sides. It's a soft timer that nudges you to achieve the goal cards as quickly as you can, if you want to.

Overall, the solo mode is clean, simple, and easy. It's a pleasant experience if you're happy with the beat-your-own-score approach to solo gaming.

New Solo Mode

If you want a more advanced experience, Welcome To... also comes with something called "New Solo Mode" that's a bit more involved. The general idea is the same as the basic solo mode, except now you're scoring against a dummy AI opponent.

Instead of a single "solo card" shuffled into the bottom half of the deck, three "completed plan" cards are shuffled into the bottom half. When these cards appear, they indicate which of the goal cards is scored for the dummy opponent.

In the New Solo Mode, these "completed plan" cards are shuffled into the bottom half of the deck. When they appear, they'll trigger scoring for the dummy opponent.

On top of that, when you play your two of three cards every turn, the unused card is set aside for the dummy opponent. At the end of the game, these cards grant points to the dummy opponent according to their effects—and the order of these effects is important because certain sequences score more or less.

The five dummy opponent cards (top row) are double-sided for a total of 10. They range in difficulty, so there's always a challenging opponent that's perfect for your personal skill level.

The best part is that there are 10 different dummy opponents to play against, with increasing difficulty. There's a satisfaction and sense of progression when you fail to beat a particular dummy over and over, then finally score that win. If you hate beat-your-own-score solo games, then this is the mode for you.

I was initially put off by this mode because it seemed too complicated for a game I cherish for its simplicity, but it actually plays pretty well once you get over the learning curve. I wish I hadn't ignored it and instead checked it out sooner!

What's in the Box?

Welcome To... is a lot of game but doesn't have many parts.

There are a total of 81 number/effect cards, which get split into the three decks used during gameplay. And then you have 28 goal cards, with 18 of them designated as basic goals and 10 of them designated as advanced goals.

There isn't much to Welcome To..., but the gameplay is phenomenal. It's just player sheets and cards. The inclusion of player aids is great and the rulebook is pretty good.

The game also comes with a pad of 100 score sheets. I recommend laminating a few and playing with dry erase markers, otherwise you'll burn through them quite fast! (You could also play using the free score sheet app on Android or iOS, but it's just not as satisfying as physically writing on a sheet with pen or marker.)

Lastly, there's the rulebook and 4 player aids that show the distribution of the number cards and explain the game end conditions for reference.

Setup and Table Footprint

One thing I love about Welcome To... is how little space it needs. You really only need space for the three piles of number/effect cards. It's nice if the goal cards can sit face-up off to the side, but you can put them away if needed (as long as you track them).

The table footprint is already small, but you can shrink it further by stashing those goal cards elsewhere and bringing them out whenever you need to reference them.

As for the score sheet, those can technically be held in hand if you really don't have space. Or you can play them in your lap. (Ideally you'll play with them on the table, but I'm just talking about worst case scenarios.)

What this means is that Welcome To... can be played in bed or on the couch, and that's great because this is such a chill game to relax to. I've personally played on my couch using a TV dinner tray to hold the cards. So, so convenient.

Setup is equally straightforward. Just shuffle the cards, split into three piles, and randomly select three goal cards. Boom, you're ready to build your neighborhood!

The Bottom Line

Welcome To...

Excellent Score Guide
  1. Streamlined logic puzzle-style experience
  2. Easy to learn, quick setup, small table footprint
  3. High replayability because no two game states are ever the same
  4. Engaging but not stressful or brain burny
  1. Not much player interaction

For what it aims to do, Welcome To... is a perfect game.

It sets up quickly, it plays in under 30 minutes, and the gameplay is simultaneously tense yet relaxing, scratching the same itch that makes crosswords and sudoku puzzles so popular worldwide yet without the same frustrations.

Welcome To... is a phenomenal game for couples and solo players, the kind of game I want to pull out on a weeknight after dinner. It's so smooth, engaging, satisfying, with just enough variation from play to play to not grow stale.

I highly recommend it and it won't ever leave my collection.

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