Dream Home (aka Domek)
Designer: Klemens Kalicki
Publisher: Rebel Games/Asmodee NA
Duration: Around 20/30 minutes
‘She lives in a house, a very big house in the country…’
Dream Home is a game I was looking forward to for some time and I was so excited when it was eventually released in the UK last month. If you saw my unboxing video you would of seen how genuinely excited I was to receive it, and how much I loved the art and the components. It really appeals to the side of me that loves all things twee and colourful, but being a board gamer whose preferences lean toward heavy and strategic games I was slightly concerned it would be a tad too light for me.
Well let me start by saying this is definitely not the case; I have been shockingly bad at it so far, which I think is a good thing. Because I clearly need to hone my set collection, memory and house building skills! The game play itself is actually dead simple, very straightforward to pick up, but (much like in real life) creating your Dream Home is not as easy as it sounds.
Players have their own little house board (which is adorable obviously) with slots to fill with cards. These cards are for offer on the central marketplace, where players have four pairs choose from, or may take the space with one card only to become start player. Which, trust me, you will be wanting very badly at some point. The cards consist of rooms, décor and helpers such as architects, who will give you special abilities and bonuses. There are also roof cards of various colours. Each turn you choose a pair and place the cards on your board. You must place both cards each turn, and if they cannot be legally placed they are laid faced down as empty rooms, scoring you…nothing. So that’s to be avoided at all costs! There are some simple rues about where you place your cards, such as you cannot build above empty rooms, you can only use certain cards for the lower ground floor (e.g.- the ‘wine cellar’) and you maximize points when more than one type of room is adjacent to another, e.g. – a living room on it’s own will score you one point, but when next to a second; four points, a third; nine points. That’s a grand living room right there. When you pick up roof cards they are placed faced down at the bottom of your board, and aren’t to be neglected- a set of four will score you three end of game points, a set of the four of the same colour, a whopping eight points. It’s very easy to forget which colours are in your facedown pile, so good memory is key in this game. Décor can be purchased and placed only if you have the room it belongs with on your board already. You must also have a kitchen, bedroom and two bathrooms on the upper floors of the house for end of game scoring.
The game lasts 12 short rounds, and plays in 20-30 minutes depending on number of players. End scoring is based on points for rooms, décor, functionality, roof, and any bonuses you may have picked up during the game.
So what seemed like a simple and cute game of playing house is actually a bit of a mind boggling, cutthroat, nail biter, especially when it comes to choosing your cards each turn. You might desperately desire a games room (if only!) you might fancy the ‘handyman’ card that will allow you to swap two rooms at the end of the game (so you can possibly undo a bad decision you made earlier on) or you might just really really want a canopy bed, especially if you picked up ‘helper’ card who will give you double points for your décor tokens.
I found Dream Home to be great fun, surprisingly difficult, and cleverly designed to be easy enough for new comers to pick up, but with enough crunch to satisfy the more seasoned board gamer. There may not be any heavy strategy, but it certainly gives you plenty to think about and an interesting variety of decisions. There’s not a huge amount of of player interaction perhaps, it would of been fun to see some stuff that could mean bartering for each others cards, or auctioning off furniture or something, but well I guess that could be expansion territory? I think something that increases interaction with other players would be fantastic, because it does feel like a bit of a multiplayer solitaire, but you know that’s not necessarily a bad thing either as that’s something I rather enjoy as many other gamers do.
I wholeheartedly recommend Dream Home as a family game, a lightweight game with some teeth and especially as a decent set collection game.