Recently we looked at the Summer expansion for Welcome To… and today we are here to look at not one, not two, but three more expansions: Halloween, Outbreak and Doomsday. All of these come from publisher Deep Water Games, featuring a rules sheet, a few expansion specific cards and a pad of player sheets. The core flip and write gameplay is unchanged, with minor additions in each expansion adding variety. However, does Welcome To… need so much additional content? Let’s find out!
Welcome To… Doomsday
A range of the houses now have bunkers in their gardens, ready to save the people of the neighbourhood if Doomsday does arrive. These do not replace pools but are found dotted in back gardens in a similar fashion. Whenever a player writes a number onto a house with a bunker they must write the same number onto both the house and the bunker. The number on the bunker signifies how many will fit into it.
At the end of the game players total up the number that would be saved in each street separately and in total in the neighbourhood. Whichever player has the most saved for the three individual streets gains a bonus of 10 points. 10 points are then awarded to the player who has the fewest total saved, apparently being an optimist about Doomsday. With a total of 40 bonus points up for grabs no player will ever manage to gain the full amount, which helps balance things at a lower player count. Players will want to utilize higher numbers on houses for the potential bunker points but this only makes it harder to get the numbers needed to complete sections of the neighbourhood that will score them points, just like in the base game.
The City Plan cards included add to the choices players must make, though mostly this is where fences will be drawn to make particular sized estates. Out of the three expansions covered in this review, and compared to the Summer expansion, Doomsday is the one that least impacts the base game experience. With only the addition of bunkers along the streets to contend with, there are no specific directions things come from, nor is there a race. Therefore, it is slightly less satisfying as a “new” experience, as other expansions force players to play differently to score big bonuses. Still, it all combines to make Doomsday the expansion I’d happy get to the table with new Welcome To… players. While there are tweaks on the base game, for the most part players can play almost normally and still roughly compete for at least one of the 10 point street bonuses.
Welcome To… Halloween
At Halloween collecting candy and finding the best scares are all part of trick or treating in the neighbourhood. While not every house on the streets have gotten involved, just over a third of the houses have got in on the Halloween action. 13 of the houses, to be specific, have candy and ghosts in front, always as a pair. Whenever a player fills in a number on one of these houses they must choose to circle either the candy or the ghost. This becomes important as it means players will have to commit to one type predominantly if they wish to get the biggest bonuses.
Both being somewhat of a race, when a player has collected 4/6/9 pieces of candy or ghosts then they can announce it to trigger an associated bonus. This bonus is then claimed, so no other players can redeem it – though if two players simultaneously trigger it both get the bonus and it is always possible to take a lower bonus if it is still available. Players can also only claim one bonus of each type, so as well as racing to collect them there is a spot of pushing your luck.
Candy is the simpler of the two, being a trade for straight points; with 5/10/15 points on offer for a player collecting 4/6/9 pieces. Choosing ghosts opens up bonus actions – something which is completely new to Welcome To… as an experience. 4 ghosts allows the claiming player to cross off a pool or a park, 6 ghosts sees 2 pools crossed off or a penalty free bis usage and 9 ghosts allows the player to cross off 3 parks or use the bis ability penalty free twice.
Players are encouraged by the way the points or abilities improve to double down, collecting only one type to beat the competition and strive for the highest value. This often sees players putting some dodgily numbered streets together in an effort to trigger the bonuses first. While points may help you win, the ability to have a bigger turn via the ghost bonus is the more interesting of the two. Not only can it help cross pools or parks off, that in turn score points, there is always a choice of two things to pick from.
The race aspect works well with a few players, though it can be frustrating if all players in a 4 player game go for the same ghosts or candy. For example, in a 4 player game if everyone collects ghosts one player could get nothing even if they collect all 13 ghosts, if they’ve been slower than others to trigger the different stages. For the extra choices this shakes things up a little, without spoiling the aspects players enjoy about the original board. It’ll certainly be a go to expansion as Halloween approaches, as well as for players that want the thrill of a larger than normal turn being triggered.
Welcome To… Outbreak
Adding a horde of zombies to contend with, players will be building barricades and collecting bullets. Shuffled into one of the three decks of cards are three zombies. When revealed these see the horde advance from the edges of each street, invading the first non-barricaded house they come across. Along the bottom of each street there are barricades with incomplete sections in front of certain houses. When a player chooses a number and fence pairing and writes it onto a house without a barricade, on top of the normal fence ability, they can draw in that section of the barricade. Two of the City Plan cards are based around barricades being completed on a street, so this focuses players’ attention.
To help slow the zombies down, which will attempt to invade three times during the game, are bullets. Starting with only one bullet, additional rounds can be obtained by advancing the real estate values to indicated stages with bullet icons – with 6 available this way. When the zombies advance a player can spend one of these tokens to stop a single street from advancing, crossing off the bullet symbol if used. There is no disadvantage to doing this, with one of the city plan cards being to spend 5 bullets and no points being earnt for remaining bullet symbols at the end of the game.
Zombies often get a bad rap in board games, unfortunately in the case of Welcome To… Outbreak there are issues. Unlike the ice cream trucks in the Summer expansion, the zombies attack from both ends of the streets. Instantly one choice is gone as players must either attempt to defend the two ends or become invaded. Worsening the issue is that unless you are going to trigger the City Plan objectives first often the best option point wise is to let the zombies in a bit – not something thematically that should occur.
Players do have the ability to defend via bullets, though they are at the mercy of the deck to produce enough real estate symbols. It can be irritating seeing plans foiled when the wrong cards come up at the best of times, the luck of the draw impacting the game, and this only emphasises it. Outbreak is certainly the weakest Welcome To… expansion to date, so stick to the others which don’t bog the original game down and come with additional interesting choices.
These expansions are a great way to get Welcome To… back to the table. Unfortunately, they aren’t always as solid an experience as the base, as is the case with Outbreak. They do allow for more variety though. After playing a lot of the base game, the ability to play a few expansion boards helps the game feel fresh for longer. The only annoyance is that now I have 4 expansions, and the fact they don’t come in their own box, the lid of Welcome To… will not fully close. If only three expansions were in the base box, after ditching the insert, it would be flat but 4 is just too many. Nevertheless, it is nice to see such support for the flip and write and even after playing 4 expansions I’m excited to see what else they come up with.
(Editor’s Note: The Welcome To… expansions were provided to us by Asmodee for the review. They are currently available from local board game stores, some of which are reopening! Find your local store here.)