Summer Thematic Neighborhood is one of many expansions available for Welcome To, Deep Water Game’s flip and write board game. Designed by Alexis Allard and Benoit Turpin, featuring artwork by Anne Heidsieck, the expansion adds an alternative neighborhood for players to use with the game base. With new city plans and plenty of tasty looking ice creams, how has this changed the experience? Let’s find out!
Note: This review expects you have an understanding of how the base game of Welcome To plays.
It’s summer and a splattering of the houses along the neighborhood streets have ordered ice creams. Thankfully, each street has at least one truck ready to fulfill their request. A single truck is situated at one end of both of the top two streets, with one on standby at each end of the third street.
Whenever a player writes a number onto a house the truck for that street drives to it. Crossing out any ice cream cones it passes, if the newly numbered house has a cone it gets circled. Circled cones are the only that are successfully delivered. In the third street the player decides which truck to use, effectively from which end deliveries will be made, the first time a number is added to a house – crossing the other truck out accordingly.
Bonus points are on offer for the player who gets a truck the full way along each street first. For example, say Grace chose to fill in a house number that caused the truck to be at the final house of the middle row. If she was the first player to move that truck the full street length, she would circle the bonus for that street, with the other players crossing it out. Each street has the same bonus of 1 point per delivered ice cream cone – which could score players up to 9 points. The game end is triggered via the usual methods, with all of the original elements still scored. On top of the bonus points earnt for cones, players gain 1 point per scoop of ice cream in circled cones. This means that not every cone is equal, with cones ranging from 1 – 3 scoops.
Three new city plan cards, the objective like bonus cards, are included in the Summer Thematic Neighborhood expansion, each featuring ice cream cones. These don’t need to be in play but do add to the summer vibes of the expansion. Two put a spin on the regular completed estates city plan cards, requiring estates to have been successfully delivered to or completely skipped by the ice cream truck. The third rewards a player the bonus for successfully delivering ice creams to every house with an order on a street – no mean task for only 8 points.
For the first couple of plays the base game of Welcome To had a minor brain burny nature to the puzzle. When this started to reduce players were left to try different routes and see what they could make work for maximum points. The Summer Neighborhood expansion adds back a wave of new puzzle brain burn. The core of scoring points is still there but so many points are locked behind the ice creams and trucks players need to reevaluate their approaches.
A simple change of approach may make the expansion sound new player friendly. However, after struggling through a game with a new player to Welcome To – a willing guinea pig – it is best to only play with those that have some experience. After only a game or two of the base game players will have seen how the core game works. Then, introducing them to the world of ice creams and trucks is an easy step. Otherwise, there are more rules for players to learn and remember. Effectively only offering new players another way to punish themselves score-wise via bad placements.
The Summer Thematic Neighborhood expansion adds a new wave of tension, minor interaction and choice to the experience. Similar to the city plan cards, extra points for ice cream trucks are awarded to whomever gets the truck to the end of a street first. This creates an incredible trade off. Getting a truck to zoom along the road can easily get you the bonus. However, as you’ll have passed numerous ice cream cones, not scoring them, the bonus will be tiny. Then there is the race against other players, making the decision of how many points is enough that bit harder to answer. Welcome To isn’t overly interactive and this adds just a smidge more, causing players to occasionally lift their head from their own neighbourhood.
In an average game players can expect to gain at least 30 points from the ice creams, though up to 50 – 60 points isn’t uncommon. Compare this to the ~8 points often earnt from each city plan card and the ice creams can swing a game massively. This helps the Summer Thematic Neighborhood feel like it’s own puzzle. The core of Welcome To is there, with fans able to pick the new elements up with ease. Still, scoring big while trying to maximise the ice cream points isn’t something to be done with ease, making it a great expansion to truly test yourself.
(Editor’s Note: Welcome To Summer Thematic Neighborhood was provided to us by Asmodee for the review. The expansion and base game are currently available from local board game stores, find your local store here.)