Earlier this month I bought Dream Home at a Dutch fair called Spellenspektakel. Droomhuis, as it is called in Dutch, was the first game from Chronicle Games, a new Dutch publisher. It has been published earlier in the year by REBEL.pl as Domek. I played it quite a few times since I bought it. Is it any good?
I played it with every player count possible and I have to say that I really like it with all. Dream Home is a family style game, the rules are easy to learn and the game plays very intuitive. It’s also a good-looking game, plus the components itself are top-notch. You get nice illustrated, house-shaped, player boards, beautifully illustrated cards, sturdy cardboard pieces and a chunky wooden house as the first played token. What do you need more?
Well, I would like you to tell me what this game is all about, thank you.
No. Thank you.
In Dream Home, you are trying to build, wait for it, your dream home. You do that by placing room cards on your player board. There are twelve available spaces, the game takes twelve rounds and every round you choose a column on the market board in the centre of the table. One column consists of one or two cards, and one of those cards is a room card. The other card might depict a part of a roof, a piece of furniture or maybe a piece of equipment or a craftsman that can help you build your home in a more professional way.
There are different types of rooms and these rooms give you different amounts of points, depending on the type and the location of the different room cards in your home. A living room card alone gives one point. A living room card next to another living room card, on the same floor, gives you four points in total. Three living room cards next to each other gives you nine points and then it stops. You cannot infinitely expand your living room for even more points.
Nobody wants a house full of living room. I’d like to sleep and take a long shower once in a while too.
Bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and even a game room, they are all part of the room deck. Some rooms need to be a little bigger than the other. Some rooms are more convenient next to a specific room type and some have to be placed at certain spots. Have you ever seen a garage on the second floor of a small family home? However, all rooms have to follow the law of gravitation. You cannot make your bathroom float in the middle of your home, you need a room and some walls beneath it.
You also need a roof. You get points for completing yours, which means four roof cards. You get more points when your roof has the same colour and maybe a tiny window. The funny thing is that when you take a roof card you may never look at it. You reveal all your roof cards at the end of the game. You have to remember the colour of the roof cards you have chooses earlier. That sounds easy, but you will forget sometimes.
You can also acquire some furniture. Beautiful paintings in your living room, a hot tub in your bathroom or a nice treehouse in your garden. They all give you more points. Craftsmen or tools don’t give you any direct points, but they help you along the way. They allow you to switch rooms at the end of the game, for instance.
There are two elements in Dream Home that I really like. The first one is the drafting element. In player order you will, after the top row of the board is filled with accessory cards and the bottom row with room cards, choose one column and place the room where you think it fits best and handle the accessory card depending on the type. This is fun because you can exactly see what your opponents need. There are no hand cards and no surprises. Being first to pick is very handy.
You become first player by choosing the first column of cards, or card really because the first column consists of only one room card and no accessories.
In a two and three player game, being the first player is see even more helpful than in a full four player game. Why? Well, before the first player decides which column she chooses for herself, she must remove a column from the game, leaving fewer columns to choose from. In this way the first player has more influence on what other players can or cannot choose.
The other thing I like is the set collection aspect of the game. You are trying to create large rooms. Large rooms give large amounts of points, but there’s also a bit of push your luck in this game, because, keeping in mind that you cannot place floating rooms, you sometimes have to place rooms in places you don’t want to place them, because you might be able to finish that big living room. But maybe not, maybe you’re just waiting for something that never comes.
The funny thing is that you sometimes have to remind yourself that this is not a real home and that you can actually do what you want. A tiny living room and three kids rooms. Your choice.
Another funny thing is the tiebreaker. If you are unfortunately tied with another player you both try to look for children in your little house. And that’s not as easy as it sounds, they are masters in hide and seek. You found more than the other player? You win.
In conclusion, I’ve really enjoyed playing Dream Home and I think it is a perfect game to bring to my family on Christmas Eve, to play during ‘het avondje van Sinterklaas’ or any other family occasion. Or just on those nights where you want to play a game, but don’t want to overthink it. It’s beautiful, you can explain it in a minute and it’s just very fun to build your own house of your dreams.