Thursday, 2 October 2014


Some games are easy to pick up, some are tricky but become clear after the first round and some still have you groping around in the dark asking dumb questions well into the third act. Keyflower is definitely one of the latter games for me as it was hurriedly explained over the general pub hubbub. It's a game where you really need to get in with the iconography as this forms the central theme. The playing surface is all separate hexes each with a different function on them and each round there are new ones so the identifying of them forms a big part of each round to the uninitiated. We were a 5 player with three newbies and two old hands.

So briefly, Keyflower is a worker placement type of game where they can be used as either bidding tokens (Which ultimately means you will lose them) or workers to perform actions on the tiles. There are a number of different hexes which are placed down for each of the first three rounds Spring, Summer, Autumn. The Winter round consists of everyone placing scoring hexes that they were secretly given at the start of the game. This means that you and only you know a small section of the possible scoring chances.
Some Iconography for ya
Each round players bid for tiles so that they can be added to their home village. The bidding continues until everyone has declared that they are out. At any point you can use any tile as long as you pay the right amount of meeples and satisfy any conditions on it. Winning tiles means that you will collect all the meeples on them at the end of the round and if people use them when they are in your village.

Hidden meeples adds element of bluff
The core mechanic of the game is to gain resources and/or meeples that the tiles produce to allow you to satisfy the scoring conditions. Each tile can be upgraded and therefore award you more points at the end. There are a lot more extra rules which fill this game out and most of which you have to be reminded of throughout the evening.

Having said all that it's an excellent game. Somewhere in the autumn round it suddenly clicked for me and a clear strategy fell into my lap that nobody else was going for. I bid inexpensively for the tiles I wanted and managed to upgrade them. One element that I haven't mentioned yet is the scope to stitch up your opponents. If you are out bid for a tile you can move all of your meeples somewhere else. You might think you are safe on a tile but it can be taken away from you if you're not careful. Also players can make you pay more for resources by using tiles you need. All in all there is a balanced amount of back stabbing that goes on so as not to make it infuriating. Think El Grande levels of stitch up and you are about there.

It's incredible that I managed to win the thing. I hadn't a clue starting off but luckily spotted some rich scoring tiles that matched my own. Dave, the game owner, suffered from explainers curse and announced in a style similar to myself that he had lost halfway through the game! After several recounts the scores came out;

Chris - 48
Ryan - 45
Dave - 38
Daryl - 38
M (Ryan's wife) - 32

Following that the only Daryl and myself were left so we had a quick couple of games of Kingdom Builder which he both won.....


  1. Chris are you on some kind of quest to make each post title smuttier than the last? We have international followers, don't you know!

    Keyflower sounds good - reminds me partly of Five Tribes and partly something else... glad to hear the group is working out for you that end.

  2. I haven't even started with the knob gags yet. I blame alternative comedy in my formative years.

  3. Are you sure it was alternative?

  4. Sometimes it can't be helped. For example, earlier today I had a good look at Reiner Knizia's Colossal Arena.