With countless games out there about adventuring in a medieval fantasy land or shooting space men with space guns, it’s a nice change of pace to play interior designer. Even if you’re awful at it.
Dream Home is a game that is exactly what it sounds like. Players are competing to build their Dream Home and it is incredibly refreshing in the current tabletop climate.
Each player starts with a home board made up of a two upper floors with five spaces each and a basement with two spaces. The goal is to fill these spaces with rooms in such a way that you leave yourself room to expand certain rooms for more points while not spending too long waiting on the perfect card.
Each turn six columns of cards are dealt onto the game board. Five of these columns have one room card and one resource card and the first column just has a room card on it.
At the start of each turn the player with the First Player Marker chooses a column of cards to take and play – if anyone chooses the column with just one card they get that card and the first player marker. Once every player has taken a column of cards the turn ends and the remaining cards on the game board are discarded and a new set of cards is dealt out.
The three types of Room Cards consist of basement room cards, unique room cards like the sauna and normal room cards. As the name suggests, Basement cards can only be played on the two Basement spaces. Normal room cards can be placed on the top two floors of your house and some rooms like living rooms become worth more points when you make the room bigger by playing multiple cards of the same room type next to each other.
The resource card deck is made up of four different types; roof cards, decor cards, tool cards and helper cards. Roof cards are stacked face down in the roof space of your Home Board where you can’t look at these until the end of the game when you’ll pick four roof cards to play as your roof hoping that you remembered to pick up four of the same colour for a nice bonus. Decor cards are one of a kind cards that when played add a little something special, and extra points, to the room you play them in. Tool cards and Helper cards are kept face up next to your game board. Each tool card has text on it to tell you when and how it’s played. Some will let you switch cards around on the Game Board before you pick any up and others will let you change things on your Home Board among other things. Helper cards hang around until the end and are used during scoring for bonus points.
At the end of the game you add up the total number of points that your rooms are worth according to the points value on the bottom of the card, add points for the roof you’ve managed to build, add on any decor token points and check out the bonuses you get from any helper cards you might have picked up during play. There are also bonuses for making your house functional, things like having a living room, bathroom and kitchen in a house or having a bathroom on each floor.
That’s it. That’s Dream Home in a few paragraphs. It’s such a simple game, but it’s so full of character and fun that it’s definitely not one for overlooking. The gameplay is fast paced and so easy to learn you’ll be up to speed after a couple of turns and games can last under ten minutes once you’ve all caught up. This quick fire nature is perfect for a quick game or for replaying all night as resetting the game takes seconds.
The art for the game matches its tone perfectly. It’s a cutesy cartoon style that screams not-quite-Disney-enough-to-be-sued full of colour and little details that make each and every card pop. A lovely touch is that each card has different art, even when they’re the same room. It would have been so easy for the publishers and developers to phone it in here and have one piece of art for each room, but making them different makes it so aesthetically satisfying when you complete a living room with three cards.
It’s an incredibly simple premise, barely more complex than a draw-and-play, but this is exactly what makes Dream Home so successful. It’s perfect for children as the rules can be taught in less than five minutes, but it has strategic elements for those wanting a deeper game as they try try to make their house as functional as possible for bonus points.
Dream Home is also a lovely palette cleanser between more intense games on game night. While it won’t make it to the table every single night, when it does it’ll bring a smile to your face and bring a nice change the pace.