Full disclosure: A review copy of Floor Plan was provided by Deep Water Games.
I know that writing about the day I’ve had for a review I plan on releasing days or weeks from now is kind of irrelevant, but I had a real banner day, today. Did the photography for five games! It felt almost like being back to normal, except then I remembered I couldn’t leave my house and was not making plans to do so before … March. So that’s fun, but I did also get a couple reviews finished that have been in limbo for a while, all of them partially done. Floor Plan is one such review, so, let’s see if all the wait was worth it!
In Floor Plan, you’ve been tasked to prove yourself as an architect by solving problems for a variety of clients and building their dream home. Rather than just solve one person’s demands, you figure, why not solve three at once? Surely that won’t lead to a Frankenstein home motivated purely by function over any general sense of aesthetic. You keep telling yourself, that, champ. But along the way, you’re going to learn to be thoughtful about the actual needs of the clients, whether it’s mobility, features, or social elements of the home you’re designing. You’ll need to turn a house into a home if you want to win; are you up to the challenge?
Very little! First, give each player a player sheet:
Then, set out the dice:
After doing that, reveal one card from each of the Layout, Design, and Build sets:
That’s most of setup! You should be here:
Finish up by setting one die face to 6 and rolling the other one. Players should draw a 6 x N square room (6 squares on one side, N squares on the other, where N is the other value rolled) such that it includes the shaded center box, and then put an L in the box to create their Living Room. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to start!
In Floor Plan, players work as architects to try and satisfy the needs of their various clients. To do so, you’ll draw up rooms and try to meet their demands as best as you can to build a pretty nice house. Ultimately, your goal is to score points for fulfilling their demands, and then win with the most points!
To start a round, you’ll first roll the dice. Once you do, both players use the rolled value to either Build a Room or Add Features.
When creating a room, you use both of the dice values as dimensions for the room (for instance, rolling a 2 and a 3 allows you to make a room that is 2 blocks wide and 3 blocks high or vice versa). Once you’ve drawn the room on your board (it does not need to be adjacent to other rooms), you must fill one box inside of the room with the label for the room. Nothing else may occupy that space. There are, of course, a few caveats to room construction:
- Rooms cannot overlap.
- Rooms cannot fully contain another room.
- Rooms cannot be drawn around features that were previously placed.
Instead of drawing rooms, you can add features. When you add features, you basically try to spruce up the property or the rooms to make them more inviting. Features work based on the number you roll; when you choose to draw features, you draw for both values rolled.
- Draw 1 Tree: Add a 3×3 tree anywhere outside (not within a room).
- Draw 2 Doors: Add two 1×1 doors on any walls in any rooms. A door drawn on a wall between two rooms connects those rooms, no matter which side of the wall it’s drawn on.
- Draw 3 Windows: Add three 1×1 windows on any walls in any rooms.
- Draw 4 Furnishings: Add four 1×1 furnishings inside of any room. Furnishings often are used to comprise various shapes, which are groups of orthogonally-connected furnishings.
- Draw 5 Deck sections: Add five 1×1 deck sections anywhere outside (not within a room).
- Draw 6 Stones: Add six 1×1 stones anywhere outside. While you can place them however you’d like, if you fully enclose an area with stones (including the diagonals), the interior enclosed area becomes a pool! The “size” of the pool refers to the number of water squares inside of it. Indicate the squares have become water squares by drawing some watery squiggles on it (an extremely technical term).
In order to use draw a set of features, you must be able to draw all of them. If you cannot draw them all, you cannot draw any of them.
Fulfilling Client Demands
Various Clients are going to ask for things inside of their homes, and task you with fulfilling them. They’ll usually relate to a variety of combinations of rooms and features. While you can fulfill the same demand more than once, you cannot use the same features and / or the same rooms to do so. They have to be completely separate.
When you complete a demand, write it on any of the yellow post-its on the bottom of your sheet. Doing so will unlock the corresponding bonus for you to use. Bonuses give you some gameplay effects:
- Wild: You may change the value of any one die to any other value you want.
- Double a Feature: You may double the number of features from one die when you are rolling features.
- Double a Room: You may draw a room of the same size again when you draw a room. You may label it with the same label or a different one; up to you!
- Add Two Doors: As you might guess, this bonus lets you add two Doors to your house.
Each bonus can only be used once; be mindful!
End of Game
The game can end one of two ways:
- Clients: If you fulfill six Client Demands, the game will end after this round. The player(s) who did this get an additional 3 bonus points.
- Invalid Placement: If any player can’t place a room or features based on the dice roll, the game ends.
Once that happens, the other players play an additional round, and the game is over. Don’t forget your Layout Bonus, but add your points together and the player with the most points wins!
Player Count Differences
Relatively few, honestly. The only “race” element of the game is that one player will end it when they can’t build a room / feature or when they fulfill all their demands. As player counts approach the ridiculously high end (100ish), I assume there will almost always be a Bad Actor who tries to end the game as quickly as possible to be a jerk (since even in 2020, I am not convinced we can have nice things). As a result, I suppose the game could be shorter as player counts approach the realm of absurdity, but in your standard games I wouldn’t expect a significant change in player time. Plus, higher player count games of this are more fun since you’ll get to see so many different potentially-viable floor plans!
- It’s worth going for some early bonuses so that you can make moves towards later improvements. I think for pretty much any game that offers one-time-use bonuses there’s an ongoing tension between saving your bonuses for as long as you can and using them immediately, but for Floor Plan, part of that tension is also going for low-scoring, easy-to-get goals vs. more complex goals so that you can actually use the bonuses. Naturally, you’re going to want to start off with a couple demands early on so that you have the option to experience that tension about when to use the bonuses you unlocked.
- I always keep one wild pocketed so that I can potentially change the outcome of a roll and end the game, if I need to. Having it available so that I can drop the room I need to drop or add the last set of features I need to have to complete a demand and end the game is pretty crucial to me, generally, and usually worth that extra 3 points. Plus, ending the game on my terms can usually throw off my opponent, which isn’t bad.
- Doubling a feature isn’t bad, especially if you’re trying to finish off a deck or complete a pool. It’s even useful for furnishings if you need to really churn out a bunch of stuff before you can score a demand, but it might be less useful for, say, trees? Doors and windows will work pretty well for doubling, though. Just make sure you don’t go overboard on a feature early in the game; you’ll likely add a fair amount of them before the game is done.
- I tend to double rooms when I need a second room of a different type. I haven’t seen a lot of circumstances where I’m hyped to build a room of the same type and size (unless I really want to roll the dice on a specific demand), but it can be useful to get say, a Washroom and a Closet.
- Keep in mind that your Layout Bonus won’t score until the end of the game, so you should be consistently trying to boost it. There’s no point where you can essentially “cash out” and score it, so, you may not immediately see the benefit of working towards it. Don’t let it slip your mind! That’s a lot of points you can essentially earn passively (thereby making it easier to forget that that’s a scoring criteria).
- Have a plan in mind for what you want to go where. It doesn’t need to be a like, gospel, but you should allocate space with the understanding that, assuming everything goes well, you will put X room and Y feature in this location. I keep messing this up and it’s definitely a major factor in my recent losses.
- Keep an eye on how close your opponent is to ending the game. You’ll still get one round, but if you think they’re going to end it soon it may be worth going for the lower-value demand that you can score rather than the higher-value demand that you might not be able to convert on.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- I overwhelmingly love this game’s theme. It’s one of my favorite recent themes for a game, to be honest. I would love if there were a heavier sequel that went deep into room-specific layouts, but designing a house is such a cool concept. The art is also pretty nice.
- And the general design principles of the game are amazing! I have a blast every time I play. The game looks so clean while you’re playing it! Mostly lines and outlines. It almost makes you feel like you’re actually generating a legit floor plan, and I think that rules.
- I always like games that let you generate artifacts, and I like the artifacts that result from this game. I think I slightly preferred the artifacts I got from the print-and-play, as they felt more cohesive to me, but I think with a bit of post-game work these would look really awesome! It might be nice to have a like, Finalization Phase where you can take up to three more turns to finish the house, even though they won’t count for points. Or, I suppose, I can just do that on my time without the game’s structure. But that feels less fun.
- I love the characters and their various needs for their houses. I’m especially excited about the game’s concern for things like ramp access and mobility throughout the house. I wish it were a larger through-line (just because I think it’s super cool), but it’s really neat how the diverse range of characters have a variety of needs you can meet over the game. It’s a good moment for players being able to solve this problem, and I think it’s a fun gameplay element, as well! Big fan of the whole thing.
- There seem to be a bunch of places you could take this concept for future games, and that excites me. I think that Welcome To already has this with thematic neighborhoods, but you could add additional cards, mechanics, or boards with starting features to them to really shake things up! Or you could just retheme the entire game; make it about a farm or a space station or a church or a grocery store. I appreciate how open-ended it is, and it makes me feel like it’s got a solid amount of potential. You could even have thematic conceits / events / restrictions! I had a fairly open layout in the last house I made and I think that would be a cool thing to force players to do; give them points for rooms connected by a wall but no doors, but then subtract points for rooms that have no doors at all! Force them to treat the house as a complex or something.
- Relatively portable! It’s pretty small, as far as games go; I could fit it in my backpack. A companion app of some kind that would show you the cards and roll the dice would be nice, though; then I could just take some laminated copies of the sheets and go wherever.
- I think I wish that there were more basic requirements that all houses needed to have in order to be valid. Something like a bonus for each different room type you had at least one of, so that you could justify getting one of everything in there instead of pulling a Michael and designing a building without bathrooms. Minor things like that would improve my immersion a fair bit.
- The nittiest of nitpicks, but the box can only barely fit the paper pads, so getting it removed is a struggle and laminating the sheets will be nigh impossible. A slightly bigger box would have helped, here, or slightly narrower pads. Oh well; there are enough in the box that I’ll probably be fine without laminating. Or I can laminate a few and store them elsewhere.
- At times, the game fails to feel particularly cohesive, and that bums me out, a bit. I think part of that is the modular nature of the game, right? You can’t expect every module to stick together perfectly. But, under certain conditions you can successfully win a game of Floor Plan without building any external doors on your house. If you want to make a comical nightmare house (and indeed, Floor Plan Golf does sound like a fun game with the right cards), that’s all well and good, but I think I miss a few things from the early game, like forcing players to have connected rooms to the outside. It often feels like certain goals aren’t aligned with the entirety of the house process, so the game can come off a smidge disjointed. But yeah, that’s likely the price of modularity.
- The “no feature overlap” rule can be a bit frustrating. If it says a tree visible from a bedroom via a window, I would assert that the tree / bedroom / window all need to be unique. I had a game where one deck square diagonally overlapped with another area I wanted to score and screwed it all up, which, not amazingly fun, but I can understand why they set it up to prevent players just making repetitions of the same structures.
Overall: 8.25 / 10
Overall, I think that Floor Plan is a lot of fun! I think a lot of it is that I’ve always been really into architecture, and Floor Plan lets me come the closest I feel like I’ve gotten in a game to actually designing a house. I think it’s a super cool concept for a game, and I’d love to see how it could be extended and applied. Imagine a whole set of games like Floor Plan: Theme Park or Floor Plan: Space Station or something, using similar mechanics with new spins to let you generate some pretty cool artifacts. I do wish there were a bit more scaffolding in place to push you to make an actually usable house, given that my last win came from a house with no external doors, just windows, but at a certain point if you’ve got tension between realistic gameplay and fun gameplay you’ve gotta lean into the fun, I suppose. That is my main criticism of the game, though: it’s a game with a lot of excellent parts, but it often feels like it is simply a collection of fun parts thrown together without always the most coherent through line. It’s still fun, for me, but I think there’s a game I would truly love hidden in these parts somewhere, which is why I’m kinda stoked about hopefully seeing more games in this series, yeah? I wonder if it’ll get there. In the meantime, though, it’s a pleasant and relatively simple roll and write with great art, excellent characters, and a pretty straightforward gameplay arc, even if I have yet to play a game where I haven’t messed something up. There’s probably a lesson here about playing in pen, but I refuse to learn it. Anyways, if you’ve been looking to design your dream home, you love a good roll and write, or you want to see what a game can look like when an actual effort is made to provide representation, I think Floor Plan really succeeds on all of those fronts! I really enjoy playing it.