Key to the City - London - an explanation
Richard Breese
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This geeklist has been compiled in order to provide interested gamers with an overview as to the contents and ideas behind Key to the City - London, the new game from R&D games being released at Spiel in October 2016 and then hopefully available from your FLGS shortly afterwards.

It is anticipated that there will be sufficient copies of Key to the City - London for worldwide distribution and so R&D games are not planning to take pre-orders from gamers.

For further information a full set of the English rules and the accompanying London information booklet can be uploaded from here: Key to the City - London English rules and Key to the City - London information booklet (which you do not need to read in order to play the game).
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1. Family: Key-series
Board Game: Key Harvest
Richard Breese
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Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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The theme in all of the previous Key games has been that of dealing with the trials of life and dodging the odd dragon in the medieval mythical Keydom. Key to the City: London is the first Key game to be set in a different and modern background.
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2. Board Game Designer: Sebastian Bleasdale
Board Game: Keyflower
Richard Breese
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Stratford-upon-Avon
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The bidding mechanism used in Key to the City: London is similar to Sebastian Bleasdale’s inspirational bidding system that is used in Keyflower.

Key to the City: London also has the common traits of the earlier Key-series games:
- player interaction is through the game mechanisms - not of a direct 'take that' nature,
- actions are of a positive constructive type, not negative or destructive,
- players are allowed to undertake a variety of actions, as I try where possible not to restrict players’ options,
- there is only a small element of luck in the game,
- the games have a family friendly theme - no games pieces are 'killed' in a key game,
- the scale of the game environment and the use of 'keyples' as gaming pieces is similar to those of previous Key games.

So it was appropriate for all of those reasons for Key to the City: London to utilise the 'Key' prefix in the game title.
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3. Board Game: Key to the City: London [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1719]
Board Game: Key to the City: London
Richard Breese
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Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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However in Key to the City: London a 'key' mechanic is the connection of the hexagonal tiles with six different coloured 'connectors'. Each colour of connector represents a different utility and the logic for this was best related to a modern day scenario.

As I have spent the majority of my life living in London and my co-designer of this game Sebastian lives in the nearby town on Windsor, the city of London became the logical choice for the theme.
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4. Family: Keyflower
Board Game: Key to the City: London
Richard Breese
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Key to the City: London is not an expansion to Keyflower. You do not need to own or to have played Keyflower in order to enjoy your Key to the City: London gaming experience.
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5. Board Game: On the Underground [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:1179]
Board Game: On the Underground
Richard Breese
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It had been a pleasure working with Sebastian on the development of Keyflower and its expansions, with his enthusiasm and analytical input making for a productive and enjoyable design partnership.

Key to the City: London was born from an idea of connecting the hexagonal tiles that had featured in the villages in Keyflower. So I was delighted that Sebastian was happy to become involved with the development of this idea and in the overall Key to the City: London project, to which he was able to bring his considerable earlier experience of designing the connection game On the Underground.
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6. Board Game: Keyflower: Keymelequin [Average Rating:7.68 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.68 Unranked]
Board Game: Keyflower: Keymelequin
Richard Breese
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Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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Sadly for me, my sister Juliet, who has been the illustrator on the majority of the earlier R&D Games releases, has now largely retired from illustrating to concentrate on her family and other interests.

However she was kind enough to agree to continue to illustrate the Keyflower title, including the new 2016 mini-expansion Keymelequin. Hopefully both Key to the City: London and Keymelequin will be launched at Spiel in October 2016.

In case you missed the (slightly shorter!) explanatory geeklist for Keymelequin there is a link here.
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7. Board Game Artist: Katherine Baxter
Board Game: Key to the City: London
Richard Breese
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I was fortunate to find London based illustrator Katherine Baxter and pleased that she was agreeable to take on this project. Katherine has extensive experience at creating beautiful and detailed landscapes and maps, which are full of character, largely using the traditional drawing method of Rotring pen and ink. There are many inspiring examples on Katherine's own website at http://www.katherinebaxter.com.

Katherine has created the drawings using an axonometric projection. With axonometric projections the scale of distant features is the same as for near features, so buildings mostly composed of rectangular features may look distorted as the presentation differs from how our eyes and photography work. As there is no vanishing point, the axonometric projection is ideal for the presentation of the buildings on the tiles as it allows the images to be matched up in any sequence, as they will be during the construction of each player’s borough during the Key to the City: London game.
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8. Board Game Designer: Richard Breese
Board Game: Key to the City: London
Richard Breese
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Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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Katherine was kind enough to offer me some tips so I could contribute several of the buildings to the project over and above my usual graphics role.

The tiles in Key to the City: London are larger than those in Keyflower so that the Katherine's images can be more readily appreciated during the game. The first edition of the game also comes with a 16 page Key to the City - London information booklet featuring the building illustrations (unencumbered by the information boxes superimposed on the tiles) and includes background information (in six languages) on all of the locations featured in Key to the City: London.
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9. Board Game: Key to the City: London [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1719]
Board Game: Key to the City: London
Richard Breese
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Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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The 57 location tiles (shown left without the overlying game information icons and text) can be joined in order to create a logical jigsaw representation of London, with the building locations approximating to their relative real life positions. A separate little puzzle for gamers to enjoy!

A map showing the actual locations is included below (and on the back page of the London information booklet).

Board Game: Key to the City: London
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10. Board Game: Keyflower [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:51]
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Richard Breese
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If I own Keyflower why do I need to buy Key to the City: London?

Whilst there are similarities between the two games, Key to the City: London offers different challenges and has a different look and feel to Keyflower.

Key to the City: London is a more streamline game. There are no keyple generation tiles, no green keyples (so no issues for red/green colour blind gamers), no iron, stone and wood resources and no transportation requirements. The upgrading mechanism is easier to follow and the source of new keyples at the end of each era (season) is handled differently.

In Key to the City: London your focus will be more on the logistics of the development of your own borough (village) as you attempt to create point scoring networks of connectors throughout your borough. However you are still likely to need to get connectors and skill tiles using other player's tiles. In Key to the City: London you acquire specific types of skill tiles, you do not draw blind.

As a consequence of the above Key to the City: London is likely to play in a shorter time than Keyflower, but with no loss of intensity, player interaction or challenges.
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11. Board Game: Key to the City: London [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1719]
Board Game: Key to the City: London
Richard Breese
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Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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What am I getting when I buy Key to the City: London?

The contents of Key to the City: London are as follows:

57 large hexagonal location tiles
8 3D landmark building markers
6 wooden Thames sailing barges
144 wooden connectors
72 skill tiles
120 wooden keyples
1 cloth bag
6 screens

These are set up as shown in the picture, which shows the position after the first round of actions. You also get rulebooks (in English, German, Dutch, French, Portuguese and Spanish) and a multi-language information booklet.
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12. Board Game: Key to the City: London [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1719]
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Key to the City – London is a game for 2 to 6 players played over four eras. Each player aims to develop their London borough, using tiles representing well-known landmarks.

On their turn players may:
(1) bid for a tile,
(2) use a tile to generate resources,
(3) upgrade a tile,
(4) pass or
(5) set sail.

The main actions are (1), (2) and (3), each of which involves using keyples. As in Keyflower all keyples used in these actions must be of the same colour as each other and the same colour as any keyples that have been used as part of a bid for that tile, that have been placed on that tile for resource generation, or that have been placed on that tile to upgrade it.

The player accumulating the most victory points after four eras wins the game.
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13. Board Game: Key to the City: London [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1719]
Board Game: Key to the City: London
Richard Breese
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Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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Bidding

Bidding is similar to the bidding in Keyflower. Each player is allocated one of the sides of the hexagonal tiles. In order to bid a player places one or more keyples on their side of one of the location tiles being bid for. If the tile has already been bid for by another player or players then the bid must consist of a greater number of keyples than the previous bid(s). There is no maximum number of keyples that can be bid.

If a player’s keyples are outbid, then the keyples remain where they are. The player may then use the outbid keyples on a subsequent turn, however the keyples must remain together. When using outbid keyples a player may supplement these keyples with keyples from other losing bids and/or with keyples from behind their screen.
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14. Board Game: Key to the City: London [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1719]
Board Game: Key to the City: London
Richard Breese
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Generating resources

Players generate resources by placing one or more keyples onto the location tiles that generate resources (those with a yellow coloured information box). The location tile may be in the player’s own borough, in an opponent’s borough or a current tile which is being bid for in the centre of the playing area.

If the tile has already been used for resource production or upgrades previously, then the placement must consist of a greater number of keyples than the previous placement and of the same colour. Unlike Keyflower there is no maximum number of keyples that can be used.

The resources generated in Key to the City: London are connectors and skill tiles.
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15. Board Game: Key to the City: London [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1719]
Board Game: Key to the City: London
Richard Breese
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Connectors

When generated, players should immediately take and place their newly acquired connectors. Connectors are placed so that they lie over the side of any tile in the player’s borough. Only one connector can be placed on each side of the location tile. Connectors placed on a side adjacent to another tile sit across both tiles to connect them together, however connectors may also lie on just one tile at the edge of a player’s borough. Once placed, connectors cannot be removed or repositioned.
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16. Board Game: Key to the City: London [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1719]
Board Game: Key to the City: London
Richard Breese
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Skill tiles

There are three types of skill tiles in Key to the City: London: coins for financiers, compasses for architects and bricks for builders.

When players generate skill tiles they should place them behind their screen for subsequent use or scoring purposes later in the game.
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17. Board Game: Key to the City: London [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1719]
Board Game: Key to the City: London
Richard Breese
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Upgrading

Location tiles in a player’s borough showing an upgrade arrow can be upgraded by that player. The upgrading mechanism is different to Keyflower. Players trigger an upgrade by placing one or more keyples onto the tile to be upgraded and meeting the requirement shown in the upgrade arrow. If the upgrade requirement includes connectors, the connectors simply have to be in place. The connectors remain on the tile after the tile is upgraded. If the upgrade requirement includes skill tiles, these are ‘spent’ and returned to the general supply for re-use.

To upgrade the tile flip the tile over. The eight landmark tiles can be upgraded a second time. When this occurs place the corresponding 3D landmark building marker onto the tile.
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18. Board Game: Key to the City: London [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1719]
Board Game: Key to the City: London
Richard Breese
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Passing

On their turn a player may pass and do nothing. If a player passes they can play again later, unless all the other players who have not already sailed also pass. If all the remaining players also pass then all players sail in the order that they passed.

Sailing


On their turn a player may set sail. Once a player has set sail they may take no further actions in the current era.

To set sail the player sails their river barge to the right (downstream) onto one of the available berths on the next river tile.

The choice of berths determines which player will be the start player in the following era, how many additional keyples they will receive in the next era, which player will receive the river tile from the era just finished and, at the end of the game, how many victory points they will receive for their river barge.

When the last player has set sail this indicates the end of the era.

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19. Board Game: Key to the City: London [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1719]
Board Game: Key to the City: London
Richard Breese
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End of the era

At the end of each era the following takes place:

Keyples which are part of unsuccessful bids are returned to behind the screen of the player who placed them and then players take the tiles that they have successfully bid for, including the river tile from the era just finished

Players take the number of keyples from the bag as indicated by the number next to their berth and place them behind their screen and retrieve any keyples in their own borough and place these behind their screen. Players simultaneously place the location tiles they successfully bid for into their borough.

The location of the tiles will influence the scoring possibilities of the player. For example in the situation illustrated the owner of the upgraded Marble Arch tile scores 2 victory points for each tile that is connected directly, or indirectly, to the Marble Arch tile by a black connector.
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20. Board Game: Key to the City: London [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1719]
Board Game: Key to the City: London
Richard Breese
United Kingdom
Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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End of the game

Players add up the scores on their tiles. The player with the most victory points is the winner. In the event of a tie, of the tied players, the player whose river barge occupies the berth furthest to the right of that tile is the winner.

In the example left, the owner of the upgraded Globe Theatre tile scores 2 victory points for each red connector on the tile.
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21. Board Game: Key to the City: London [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1719]
Board Game: Key to the City: London
Richard Breese
United Kingdom
Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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Microbadge: VegetarianMicrobadge: Key Market fanMicrobadge: I'm the Keyper of the Keyp!Microbadge: Key-Series fanMicrobadge: Leonard Cohen fan
For more information on the game download the Key to the City - London English rules and Key to the City - London information booklet.
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22. Board Game: Key to the City: London [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1719]
Board Game: Key to the City: London
Richard Breese
United Kingdom
Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: VegetarianMicrobadge: Key Market fanMicrobadge: I'm the Keyper of the Keyp!Microbadge: Key-Series fanMicrobadge: Leonard Cohen fan
We hope you found this Geeklist useful. I, and I anticipate Sebastian, will endeavour to respond to any comments added to the list in a timely manner and hope that you will be sufficiently enthused to acquire a copy of the game. We are confident that you will enjoy the game if you have enjoyed the earlier Key games.
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