Keyper - an explanation
Richard Breese
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Stratford-upon-Avon
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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 Keyper, the new 'key' game from R&D Games scheduled for release in Autumn 2017.

Since 2010 I (Richard Breese) have published a similar list for each new R&D Games game shortly before its release at the Essen Spiel convention in the October of that year. However, the plan with Keyper is to additionally release a special character edition through Kickstarter, and this geeklist offers a little insight into the background. However as the timescale required to create the special Kickstarter edition is much longer, I thought that on this occasion, it would be helpful to produce this explanatory list earlier, notwithstanding that the final graphics and full rules set are not yet available to include.

I will aim update this geeklist when more illustrations, graphics and information become available. I will also add a link to the rules booklet when this is completed in later spring. So if you would like to receive these details please subscribe to this geeklist (and add a thumbs up to spread the word which would be gratefully appreciated). Thank you.

For interest, the links to the earlier '- an explanation' geeklists are as follows:

2016: Key to the City - London - an explanation
2016: Keymelequin - an explanation
2015: Inhabit the Earth - an explanation
2014: Keyflower - the Merchants: an explanation
2013: Keyflower - the Farmers: an explanation
2012: Keyflower - an explanation
2010: Key Market - an explanation
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Board Game: Key Market
Richard Breese
United Kingdom
Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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Keyper is the eighth standalone new title in the 'Key' series to be set in the medieval Keydom. The earlier games in the series were:

1995 - Keywood (winner of 'Sumo' games magazine design competition),
1998 - Keydom (widely recognised as the first worker placement game),
2000 - Keytown,
2002 - Keythedral (which reached the BGG top 100 games),
2007 - Key Harvest,
2010 - Key Market,
2012 - Keyflower (currently a BGG top 30 game) and expanded by Keyflower: The Farmers (2013) and Keyflower: The Merchants (2014).

Since Keywood, all of the Series: Key (Richard Breese) games have had the same following characteristics:

1. Player interaction is indirect, i.e. through the game mechanism.
2. Actions are constructive, generating a positive feeling. Not negative, conflict driven or destructive.
3. Only a minimal amount of luck only, if any.
4. Players are presented with many options.
5. Plenty of player interaction.
6. The scale of the game environment is similar and features workers or (more recently) 'keyples' (wooden meeples).
7. A family friendly theme - dealing with the trials of life and dodging the occasional dragon in the medieval mythical Keydom.

Also in the Series: Key (Richard Breese), but set in modern setting of London, is Key to the City: London (2016), which shares all of the characteristics except for 7.
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2. Board Game: Keyflower [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:79]
Board Game: Keyflower
Richard Breese
United Kingdom
Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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Keyper is the first completely new medieval Series: Key (Richard Breese) game since the award winning game Keyflower, which is currently in the BGG top 30 games.
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3. Board Game: Keyper [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:1160]
Board Game: Keyper
Richard Breese
United Kingdom
Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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Keyper features special folding game boards, new mechanics and, in the special Kick Starter edition, 36 specially designed character keyples.

Keyper shares several of the characteristic of Keyflower in particular. The game is a worker placement game played over four seasons and game play is very interactive.
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4. Board Game: Keyper [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:1160]
Board Game: Keyper
Richard Breese
United Kingdom
Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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In Keyper the keyples feature prominently in the game. Each player starts with a team of 8 different coloured keyples (9 in the two player game), plus a keyper (a waving keyple) in their own player colour (dark blue, dark green, red or yellow). The keyper is played by a player in order to claim a country board at the end of summer, autumn and winter.

In the Character Edition the keyples are specially designed and produced exclusively for the Keyper game by Meeple Source.
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5. Board Game: Keyper [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:1160]
Board Game: Keyper
Richard Breese
United Kingdom
Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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Each of the other keyples has a special ability:

Black - mining,
Brown - forestry,
Grey - quarry work,
Light blue - shipping,
Light green - farming,
Orange - clay and brick work,
White - can be used as any other colour.

At the beginning of the game, spring, each player has two white keyples and one each of the other colours.

The designs should assist colour blind players. They character keyple's tools will also match the design on the game boards to assist with the colour recognition of the game boards also.

There are one each of the keypers. The keyples all come in both a female and male version. Two of each colour except white, with four of each of the white female and male keyples.
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6. Board Game: Keyper [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:1160]
Board Game: Keyper
Richard Breese
United Kingdom
Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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Each player starts with their own village board, keyp, keyper, team of keyples, a set of 12 village tiles, two scoring markers, three finished goods and will also claim a country board during each season.

The country boards are special folding boards (pictured) which enable gamers to choose from four different options at the beginning of summer, autumn and winter! Certain fields on the country boards are only available in certain seasons. For example raw materials can only be upgraded to finished goods in fields on the country board in spring and summer (so a player will usually need to build their own conversion tiles in their village). Gem mining meanwhile is only possible on the country boards in autumn and winter.

The village board comprises of a farm, village, fair ground, storage area, dock and keyp.
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7. Board Game: Keyper [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:1160]
Board Game: Keyper
Richard Breese
United Kingdom
Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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Keyper is a worker placement game. As mentioned above, Keydom, an early game in the ‘Key’ series, is widely recognised as the very first worker placement game. There are now a whole genre of worker placement games, so to make the publication of a new game in the category worthwhile I believe it is important for it to offer something new and that you will find that in Keyper, with its complementary 'joining' and 'laying down' mechanisms and keyple 'team management' decisions.

There is a high degree of player interaction in Keyper. If a player uses (places a keyple on) a country board then another player can join that player on the first player’s turn to both player’s benefit. It’s not a co-operative game in the true sense, but co-operative play can be beneficial.

On a player's turn they can play a keyple onto any 'field' on a country board or onto a 'plot' on their own village board as follows:
1. If the keyple does not match the colour of the field on a country board it is placed on, or if the field does not have an associated colour, or if the keyple is played onto a developed plot on the player's game board, then the player will receive one resource or action.
2. If the keyple does match the colour of the field then the player will receive two resources or actions.
3. Each field or plot can accommodate two keyples. A player can only play one keyple on their turn. However the other players, in clockwise order, have the option of joining the player whose turn it is on that player's turn. They must use a keyple of the same colour as the keyple played by the player whose turn it is, or a white keyple. As the limit of keyples on a field is two, then only one of the other players may join the player whose turn it is. The two keyples work together and as a result are more efficient and productive. The player whose turn it is earns an extra resource/action; two if there is no colour match or three if there is a colour match. The 'joiner' receives the same amount - even though it is not that player's turn.
4. Each keyple has the potential to work twice. A keyple may be placed onto a field or plot where there is also a keyple from an earlier turn. The effect is the same as a joiner. The original keyple is laid onto its side to indicate it has now worked for a second time. The keyple just played (only) gains the extra resource.

Alternatively, once per season, a player may play their keyper. The keyper is placed onto one of the keyp spaces on the country boards. Each country board always displays a single keyp field. This action claims that country board - and all of the keyples on the board! - for that player at the end of the season. So in summer, autumn and spring, players are likely to have different numbers of keyples in their team, keyples of the same colour and a different set of coloured keyples to the other players.

It is fun to try to tempt other players to join you on your turn, if indeed that is what you want. As both players, you and the joining player, will generate extra resources or actions. So it is important to note what colours of keyples the other players have and also the number they have left. Un-played Keyples are always visible and kept next to the keyp on a player's village (player) board.

As a result of both the joining mechanism and the board claiming mechanism, players are likely to finish playing their team of keyples at different times. Whereas in many games it is a disadvantage to run out of meeples/keyples. In Keyper this can be an advantage. This is because if another player still has keyples to play, then on your turn you can 'lay down' keyples on a plot on your player board or a field on the country board you have claimed, and those keyples can then work for a second time. If you can lay down two together then you gain the same benefit as if you had played a keyple and another player had joined you - either two or three resources or actions, which is often better than you can achieve on your own. So there is a double benefit on joining - you get more resources/actions and additionally you may get extra turns ('lay downs') toward the end of the season.

Whether you want more or fewer keyples is an interesting choice. Fewer means are more likely to get some lucrative lay-downs. But your choice will be restricted by the fields and plots you have access to. For this reason you may also chose to play keyples on country boards that other players have already claimed.

If a player gains more than eight keyples (nine in the two player game) on the board that they claim, then the extra keyples are placed on the player's mini keyp board during the following season. These keyples produce a raw material or a 'basic' animal at the point that the player places their keyper in the following season.

After a playtest well known gaming reviewer and co-founder of Counter gaming magazine Alan How said of Keyper: ‘I preferred Keyper to Keyflower as Keyper is inclusive, not confrontational, you can use what other players do.’

A player’s strategy is likely to be influenced by the (seeded) spring country tiles they acquire and by the particular coloured keyples they recruit for summer. Different combinations will encourage a player develop their farm and/or village, help with their shipping or mining activities and prepare for the seasonal fairs. They will constantly need to evaluate whether to join other players, when to claim a board, whether to play on their own or another player’s country board, when to use their own village, when and whether to upgrade their farm and village buildings and whether to recruit a large or small team for the following season. Players are fully engaged throughout. The winner is the player to gain the most points, usually through pursuing at least a couple of the different strategies.

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8. Board Game: Keyper [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:1160]
Board Game: Keyper
Richard Breese
United Kingdom
Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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Game contents

48 country tiles (plus a minimum additional six tiles in the Character Edition),
48 village tiles,
26 fair tiles,
6 boat tiles.

4 ‘flexible’ country boards,
4 village boards,
4 mini keyp boards.

4 waving wooden keypers (all character keypers in the Character Edition),
32 wooden keyples (all character keyples in the Character Edition),
48 wooden raw material resource cubes,
48 wooden eight sided finished goods counters,
8 wooden score marker cylinders.
96 wooden animeeples: chickens, cows, goats, horses, pigs, red deer, sheep and wild boar. 20 wooden wheat counters.
64 gems.

A black cloth bag for the country tiles.

A rule booklet.

In the character edition the rules and game tiles are in English. In the standard edition there will be either one or two editions (with one will in English only and one in German only) or a multi-language edition there will be both English and German rules, but with English only tiles.
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9. Board Game Artist: Vicki Dalton
Board Game: Keyper
Richard Breese
United Kingdom
Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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Many gamers have liked the illustrative style of the early medieval key games which were drawn by my sister Juliet. Juliet has now retired, but I have been fortunate in that talented gaming illustrator Vicki Dalton has agreed to illustrate Keyper in the same style (see picture) as adopted by Juliet.

Thank you for taking the time for reading this geeklist and for your interest.
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10. Board Game: Keyper [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:1160]
Board Game: Keyper
Richard Breese
United Kingdom
Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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A Kickstarter project was set up (in Nov-16) primarily to determine if there was interest for the special Character Edition and I’m pleased that this edition was so enthusiastically received.

As a thank you to all of the backers to the Keyper Kickstarter for their support and for contributing toward the target and to meet requests I’ve added a stretch goal. This will mean that for all of the Character Edition sets all of the 32 keyples and 4 keypers will now be unique designs as shown in the image below. (Previously there had just been a single female and male keyple design for each different colour of keyple.)

See picture left.
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