North Ryde - Sydney
I don't play to win - I play for enjoyment and social interaction.
This review is a re-post of a session report for my local gaming group Northside Gamers, from a single 4-player session on 1 November 2016.
My local FLGS retailer - Advent Games came to the party and delivered me a brand new copy of Dream Home, a very light card drafting, set collecting game.
Each players starts with their very own player board in the shape of a 3 storey house, with a basement and first and second floors, onto which they will place various room cards to build their 'dream home'.
Room cards range from living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, garages, studies, wine cellars, and roof tiles. Cards each have a standard point value for end game scoring, but several can be conjoined to make larger rooms, which deliver a larger score, but they must be adjacent, so where you place your rooms can be crucial. You also score additional points for having a bathroom on the first and second floor, and for having a kitchen/bedroom/bathroom. Roofing tiles score for a continuous set of 4 of the same colour or for 3 different colours.
Placement follows a a simple rule that a room can only be built above an existing room, so you can't build on the top floor without building the rooms underneath to support it. Uncompleted rooms count as zero.
In the deck are various tool cards and helpers, that allow you to change the rules - rearranging rooms, swapping cards, and various other little features. Also included are "decor" items, that add additional value to the rooms - spa pools, a treehouse, bird house, kitchen appliances, etc.
The game is played out across 12 rounds (until the cards run out) with a draft of 9 cards being displayed in vertical sets of two - one room card and one roof or tool/helper card in each set. One of the possible sets is only a single card draft, but choosing this gives you the start player marker for the next round. Each player in sequence choosing two cards form the draft and placing them in their house. The draft is cleared at the end of the round and a new draft is drawn.
Turns are very quick and with everyone competing to complete the same goals, turn order means you sometimes don't get the cards you want to complete that set - encouraging you to take the first player initiative.
The artwork is delightful with a colourful, bright and happy cartoonish look that really fits the theme. Each of the 120 or so cards is separately illustrated in incredible detail. The closer you look at the cards, the more detail you see - in fact the tie breaker mechanism is to count the number of children in your house, and those children are often hidden under beds (with only tiny feet showing) or partially obscured under a pile of toys in the play room. The boards are solid and the artwork consistent with the cards. Tokens are similarly solid and clear and the start player marker is a lovely big orange house that stands out on the table.
The quality and attention to detail in this game is evident with the plastic box set in the shape of a house. It comes with scoring pads, but scoring is so simple, they really aren't necessary.
Quick turns, simple decisions and very little downtime, the game is easily done in 30 mins and plays 2-4 players. I would say the game probably plays best with 4, as your card-drafting options are further restricted. The game also has plenty of nice, light little decisions - "do I take the extra living room to score higher, but this will limit my space for other rooms". "I need that garage to be able to build above it, but I also want the wine cellar because it scores higher". " If I take one card, I can grab the start player marker and have a better selection next turn".
Like most card drafting, set collecting games, there are distinct similarities to Sushi Go, but the card placement adds a nice little touch, plus the tool/helper cards provide extra advantages without adding any real complexity.
Overall, this Dream Home is an absolute delight. Great theme and consistent mechanisms, simple gameplay, light decisions, card placement options, drop-dead gorgeous artwork and components and very, very accessible for families - all in a quick 30 mins. The only negatives (and I really am stretching to find some) are the table space, due to each player having their own player board. I'm not sure it would be as good with two players, but hard to assess after just one 4-p game. There's also no summary of the card distribution, but even then the overall quality more than makes-up for these tiny quibbles.
As a family game, and one that would work with kids too, this one is a highly recommended 7.5 from me.
Thanks for the review. This is high on my RADAR and you just confirm it is a must play game. Hoping my wife, who reminds me she is not a gamer, will enjoy the set collecting and drafting.
You think that's air you're breathing?
We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant That We Should voyage far.
Thank you for your review!