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Shaken, not stirred

Occasional ramblings on playing and designing boardgames (by the designer of Extra! Extra!)
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Shaken #15. Keyflower disappoints a second time

Andrew Bond
United Kingdom
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We just played our second game of Keyflower, three player this time, and once again I have come away bitterly disappointed with the end game scoring.

My son Joe won the game with 85 pts, my wife Jenny cam second with 73 pts, and I came in last with just 48 pts. A clear thrashing, hey?

But the outcome would have been very different if I hadn't triggered a tile-swap with Joe during the summer season. He had pole position on the Wainwright ('move 4, upgrade 2' tile), while I had the nod on the Barn (2 VPs for every resource, once upgraded). I then decided to challenge Joe for his tile and won. He countered by taking my tile. Game on.

And, of course, the difference at the end was ... The 36 VPs that Joe earned for the Barn alone. While I mustered a maximum of 8 VPs for the boat that score for move-and-upgrade capabilities.

Jenny's score was bloated by 30 VPs in the Key Guild, for collecting 15 skill tiles. And Jenny thought she had played badly and would lose easily. None of my tiles came anywhere near that VP count.

So, for two games running, the final scores (and therefore the outcome of the game) have been decided by just two tiles. In fact, the same two tiles. A terrible outcome. Had our scores been within 10-15 points of each other, I wouldn't have complained. But victory by a factor of almost two, mainly because I chose to have some fun challenging for a midgame tile, is ridiculous.

After all the positive things people have said about this game's clever bidding mechanism, I feel the whole thing is let down by totally unbalanced tile scoring. There should a maximum value applied to all tiles (something that Il Vecchio does and The Castles of Burgundy does in a different way).

I may give this game one more chance, but it's currently heading to my 'for sale' list.
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