SNAP Review – Home Sweet Home (Or Not)
Hey honey, we’ve got guests coming over. We’re going to need to clean up!
Can we get a maid?
You know, picking up the house is kind of like a cooperative game…
Funny you should mention that. This is a SNAP review for Home Sweet Home (or Not), a cooperative game system of adventures inside a family home.
Home Sweet Home (or Not) is by Paul Peterson of Smash Up fame, and published by Devir. 2-5 players ages 8 and up can play in about half an hour. There are five scenarios in the box, and they all use the system a little differently.
So what’s this “system”? And how is it related to the art? (by Álex Santaló)
The gameboard for Home Sweet Home is a house, built out of little box rooms, hallway tiles, and wooden doors. It’s arranged differently for every scenario.
There are seven different “family member” standees to choose from, and everyone should be able to find at least one that they identify with.
The cards aren’t particularly exciting, but they’re clear. And some of them are pretty clever: Cake Sling, “Nothing Happens” event, Story Vortex!
Many of the cards do require reading, and there is at least one typo we found. Also, the number 2 room is represented in pink on the cards but on the room itself, it’s purple.
There’s one more issue with the art, and we’ll get into that in surprises. But first, let’s talk about how we play this game.
Although there are five scenarios in the rulebook, the core of the gameplay is the same.
Start by setting up the house. Then set up Event and Item decks, adding in any scenario-specific cards. Generally, the player standees will all start outside the front door, and each room in the house will get two face-down Item cards.
Start each player’s turn by flipping over the top Event card and following its instructions.
Then the player may take up to three actions. Moving to an adjacent room or hallway is an action, and so is interacting with Item cards – picking them up, dropping them, swapping them with cards already in a room, and exchanging with another player in the same room. One twist of this system is that a player may do multiple interactions with items as a single action – as long as every interaction is with a different item. So, I’m picking up two items and dropping a third one; that’s all one action.
Whenever a player standee moves into a room, flip all the cards there face-up so you know what you’re working with.
At the end of a turn, refill all the empty room spaces with cards from the Item deck.
Most of the scenarios involve getting specific Item cards – or classes of Item cards – to specific places within the house, whether that’s to “tidy up”, make weapons to drive away ghosts, or create a black hole of junk to get rid of an alien.
The group loses if the Event Deck is empty before they reach their objective.
So, what did we expect from Home Sweet Home (or not)?
It took us a while to get into this game. Learning a new “system” can be a little intimidating, even if it’s a fairly simple one. The rulebook lays out basic actions, but even the starting scenario has specific rules that don’t carry over, so at the beginning it did feel a little overwhelming.
I really liked the modular room design. It makes me think of IceCOOL and I was excited to see it in a cooperative game, more like Pandemic or Forbidden Island.
But that leads to our first surprise:
The rooms are too small. At least the small ones.
They just barely fit two cards, but they’re supposed to also hold standees and these large wooden door clips as well. We had to take everything out of the small rooms to even get the cards out! By our fourth game, we weren’t using the doors at all. They’re bulky and really don’t add anything to the game other than holding the rooms together. (And this isn’t like an IceCOOL, where you need structural integrity to the board.)
The cards are also supposed to be stacked if there are more than two in the room, and it matters which stack a card is in. Again, with these really small rooms, it was hard to keep those stacks separate.
I was also pretty disappointed by the color issues and typos, as we mentioned in the art section. The “2” room with a purple indicator and the “5” room with the blue indicator just – they look too similar, it was hard to tell them apart.
Lastly, the scenario difficulty is all over the place. The first two scenarios were really easy. In fact, when we were playing “Restless Spirits”, we actually did too well finding items and making weapons and we had to wait to run down the Event deck so we could find all the ghosts to defeat them.
But the Egg Hunt and Alien scenarios got really hard really fast. The alien has Event cards that abduct players to its spaceship, and you lose if everyone is on the ship. This means that you have no idea how long you actually have to find items in the house.
The Egg Hunt keeps a relatively small Event deck (it doesn’t add anything), but it adds 25 more items to the deck. And you need to retrieve them all. And it makes it harder to cycle through all the other items that you don’t need. We played this with two players and we could not do it. I do think it would have been easier with more players.
Of all the scenarios, the only one we’d be likely to play again was the Alien scenario, because the alien moves every round and pushes players out of rooms. It’s just more interesting because it makes things actually unpredictable.
Would we recommend this game?
We probably wouldn’t recommend Home Sweet Home (or Not). It’s an okay game, but it’s not great. And the difficulties we had with the rules, and the cards, really aren’t welcoming to guests. It’s short and the theme is cute, but there are plenty of other cooperative games I’d reach for instead of this one.
Maybe with a few more rounds of polish and balancing we would feel better about it, but at this point we’re going to rate it 2 doors out of 5.
And that’s Home Sweet Home – or not – in a SNAP!
The Family Gamers received a copy of Home Sweet Home (Or Not) from Devir for this review.
Home Sweet Home (or not)
Number of Players: 2-5
Age Range: 8+
Playtime: 30 minutes or less