Welcome To… is a flip and write board game based in the 1950s, where players attempt to build out the perfect neighbourhood of parks, pools and a street of number ordered doors. Originally available via a Kickstarter campaign in 2018, the playmat for this amazing title has just been restocked, so should soon be popping up in local game stores. However, will players welcome this addition? Let’s find out!
Unboxing the playmat the quality is instantly recognisable. Sized at 36” by 14” there is ample room for all of the normal middle of the table components, alongside plenty of helpful rules reminder boxes. There are slots for the three City Plan objective cards off to one side. The area for the 3 decks is enough so that slightly askew piles won’t collide into each other, allowing for uniform columns of cards for the pairings. The Neoprene playmat has a great finish, which doesn’t dampen the vivid colours used to highlight aspects, whilst being soft to the touch. It doesn’t have an area dedicated to writing on the player sheets. Though being soft this would have been a problem, as unless using laminated boards that provide their own sturdiness.
The mat won’t exactly see a lot of wear and tear, with only cards being flipped over. The product is “spill proof” though, so it’ll only be the cards on top players will have to worry about if a drink does get knocked. Enhancing the long lasting nature of the playmat, to stop the mat edges from peeling or wearing over time there is a stitch finish. Finishing off the product nicely is an anti-slip rubber base. Unlike other games with playmats this one probably wouldn’t get accidentally moved much during play anyway. Still, this helps make sure the mat doesn’t slide around the table, so the only way the decks will be knocked over is by players when flipping cards.
The box the playmat comes in does an okay job at storing it. The cut out window, which allows customers to see the product before purchasing does however present a weakness. Already there is a slight tear in the box off of one corner of this cut out area, so potentially long term it won’t be the best at protecting the playmat between plays. Nevertheless, it is an easy size to fit onto a game shelf.
Who the playmat is aimed at is a bit of a mixed bag. Playmats are often targeted at huge fans of a game, who want to upgrade their experience. They are also commonly utilized for games that require cards or tokens to be easily picked off the table. Whilst Welcome To… sees players flipping cards from the deck actually picking them off the table is rare. The information of how the powers work makes it useful for getting new players involved, but new players aren’t going to buy a playmat straight out of the gate. Therefore, it must be aimed at veteran players. Yet it doesn’t try to incorporate any of the expansion content – which fans are more likely to own.
Interestingly the distribution of the cards is also indicated on the playmat. Veterans will have got the feeling of how likely or unlikely specific numbers are going to come out of the deck. This can help them against newer players, knowing when it is “safe” to leave a gap for a certain number from previous experience. This little table helps remind newer players though so makes it slightly easier for them to compete, helping them get up to speed quicker.
There is no getting around the quality of the playmat. If you want to upgrade your Welcome To… experience it does make it a touch nicer, and it has a nicer touch to it than picking cards off the table. For a game like this, it does get very minor usage. Still, with the colourful elements it does add game based artwork to your playtable. For some that won’t be enough, while others look for any opportunity to add some flair to an experience. I’d suggest picking up some of the expansions for Welcome To… ahead of the playmat, as it’ll increase the variety when the game does get to the table, though it’s always nice to be able to show off an upgraded game.
(Editor’s Note: The Welcome To… playmat was provided to us by Asmodee for the review. It is currently available from local board game stores, some of which are reopening! Find your local store here.)