Key Flow - 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 Flow, the new 'Key' game from R&D Games scheduled for release in Autumn 2018, co-designed by Sebastian Bleasdale, Ian Vincent and myself with new illustrations by Vicki Dalton.

I will update this list with any relevant developments. If you would like to receive these details please subscribe to this geeklist. Any thumbs-up to give this list visibility and spread the word and would of course be gratefully appreciated.

Thank you.
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1. Board Game Designer: Richard Breese
Richard Breese
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The idea for Key Flow was first floated by Ian Vincent in December 2016, as a game based on R&D Game’s Keyflower game, but using square cards which were rotated during the game play.

Ian has been a long standing and valuable playtester for R&D Games for almost 10 years, as well as a published game designer in his own right and an ex-semi-professional card player. He has also played an instrumental part in helping to shape the original Keyflower game as well as the other recent R&D games.
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2. Board Game Designer: Sebastian Bleasdale
Richard Breese
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After several experiments using Ian's initial design, Sebastian Bleasdale proposed a two layered alternative village set up, which we subsequently agreed upon and which now forms the basis of the game Key Flow. Sebastian was my co-designer for Keyflower and Key to the City London and is a constant source of new game ideas with several recent publications to his name.

I have a lot of admiration for the professionalism of both Ian and Sebastian, whose time and diligence has, I believe, been well rewarded by the creation of Key Flow and the positive early reaction it has received. Every last card has been given great consideration and I am sure you will find Key Flow an absorbing and well balanced game.

Key Flow was provisionally called ‘Keyflower the card game’, but after further thought we considered it a separate distinct game which contains several new ideas, and worthy of its own title in the Key roster. The title Key Flow was chosen because:

(i) the name is a little shorter than Keyflower, which reflects the shorter game length,
(ii) the game ‘flows’ quickly over the four game turns (seasons) and
(iii) the name still alludes to Keyflower, to which it is closely related.
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3. Board Game Designer: Ian Vincent
Richard Breese
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Stratford-upon-Avon
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Many of the ideas for Key Flow evolved from the Keyflower game. In fact Ian said that one of his aims when initiating Key Flow was to create a Keyflower game that he could beat both Sebastian and me at! And he succeeded! In Ian's own words:

'The motivation for Key Flow came from a particularly long (early) test of Keyper. I concluded the economies in Richard’s worker placement games are gradually becoming more sophisticated and if we need more actions to fully develop our economies they are going to keep getting longer (even with clever fixes like retiring workers).

I enjoy the more sophisticated economies but I don’t like the longer game lengths. So I wanted a way to pack more actions into the same amount of time. Simultaneous play does that but it also means multiple people can pick a space at the same time and I only knew one awesome worker placement system (Keyflower) that already supported multiple people taking a space. Fortunately, I happened to know the designers and the publisher for that one! So once I’d worked through the basic mechanics of drafting action cards, I pitched the idea to Richard. I had no idea that I’d be asked to put a prototype together for when we were meeting nine days later and that we’d be pencilling in a release date after the first test, or how much further room for growth and improvement three brains could find!'

(Illustration Ticket to Ride - India, one of Ian's previously published games.)
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4. Family: Key-series
Richard Breese
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Key Flow is the ninth standalone new title in the 'Key' series to be set in the land of Keydom. The complete list of games in the medieval series is:

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: First edition (being re-issued spring 2019),
2012 - Keyflower (currently a BGG top 30 game) and expanded by Keyflower: The Farmers (2013) and Keyflower: The Merchants (2014),
2017 - Keyper,
2018 - Key Flow.

Since Keydom, all of the Key-series 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.
4. Players are presented with many options.
5. Plenty of player interaction.
6. The scale of the game environment is similar and features 'keyples' (wooden meeples) undertaking their various tasks.
7. A family friendly theme - dealing with the trials of life and dodging the occasional dragon in the medieval mythical Keydom.

Also in the Key-series, 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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5. Board Game Artist: Vicki Dalton
Richard Breese
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I have been fortunate to know Vicki Dalton for a number of years, initially as the daughter of my gaming friends Alan and Charli Paull.

Vicki has worked as a board game illustrator for a number of years and I was delighted when she agreed to take over the illustrations for the R&D Games' publications after my sister Juliet retired to concentrate on her ceramics.

Vicki first illustrated Keyper for R&D Games and has now created her engaging illustrations for Key Flow. Vicki has recently set up an instagram account where you can see more of her Key series art by following the link to: www.instagram.com/vic.key.art/
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6. Board Game: Key Flow [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:1699]
Richard Breese
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Stratford-upon-Avon
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The contents in the box of Key Flow include:

6 home cards,
6 store cards,
186 season cards,
180 octagonal wooden resource counters,
12 resource-multiplier tiles,
51 keyple tokens,
45 upgrade tiles,
45 single sided skill tiles,
9 double-sided skill tiles,
Rule books in English, French and German
and a bundle of fun!

The pre-production copy shown in the photo is featured in a Gaming Rules video by Paul Grogan which gives an excellent full run through of the Key Flow game.
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7. Board Game: Key Flow [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:1699]
Richard Breese
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Stratford-upon-Avon
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Background

In the game 'story', the great river Key Flow passes through the new Key Lands, carrying ships laden with resources for building and trade.

Along the riverside buildings are built, boats are moored in docks and animals graze in the fields. Players build communities alongside the river and send workers (known as ‘keyples’) to work in both their own and their neighbours’ businesses, enabling their economy to develop and flourish.

Key Flow is a card driven game based on many of the ideas contained in the award winning game Keyflower. The game flows quickly over four game seasons (rounds), allowing players to develop their own unique village, with many ways to score points for their buildings, animals, keyples, resources and other items.

(Pictured left - 99 village cards from the game, painstakingly aligned so that they could be printed on a single sheet with the correct and matching borders.)
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8. Board Game: Key Flow [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:1699]
Richard Breese
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Stratford-upon-Avon
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The game Key Flow is played over four seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter.

At the start of the game, a player’s village consists of just their home card. Each player is then dealt a number of winter cards (which they keep until winter) and a hand of spring cards. Players then choose one of their spring cards and pass the remaining cards to the player on their left. This process is repeated until all spring cards have been chosen.

There are two main types of cards, village cards and keyple cards.

Village cards feature either a road or a river. If the card features a road it is placed in the top row of cards alongside the player’s home card. If the cards features a river it is placed in a row below (offset by half a card’s width).

Keyple cards are played above the top row of village cards in the player’s own village or in their neighbours’ villages, in order to generate resources or actions. The buildings on the top row of cards may produce gold, iron, stone, wood, skill tiles, keyple tokens, transportation and/or building upgrade opportunities. Village cards on the bottom row cannot be used by keyples, but give their owner resources, skill tiles and animals.

Players are dealt and choose further cards in summer and autumn. In summer, cards may also include boats, which give special unique abilities to their owner. In autumn, village cards may include storage buildings, which require resources to be transported onto that card.

At the end of autumn each player will choose and play one of the winter cards they received at the beginning of the game. The other cards will be included in the cards dealt out and chosen in winter. All the winter village cards give different point scoring opportunities.

Throughout the game players may transport goods in order to upgrade buildings to make them more productive or to generate additional points. Keyple tokens can be obtained and used to supplement the number of keyples shown on the keyple cards or to generate extra turns at the end of a season.

All of the scoring in the Key Flow game takes place at the end of winter. Points are scored from the village cards in various ways, through upgrading buildings and from gathering gold. The player who scores the most points wins the game.

(The game illustration left shows a game of Key Flow in progress at the end of autumn before the keyple cards and tokens are removed. For illustrative purposes, each player has already played their end of autumn season winter card and has been dealt their 9 winter cards.)
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9. Board Game: Key Flow [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:1699]
Richard Breese
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Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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The full rules to Key Flow can be downloaded by following the these links to the files section: English, German and French.

Explanatory geek lists have also been published for each of the recent R&D Games games which can be accessed by clicking the links below:

2017: Keyper - an explanation
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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10. Board Game: Keyflower [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:49]
Richard Breese
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Stratford-upon-Avon
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Michael Kiesling’s brilliant new abstract game Azul was published in 2017. The game featured some wonderful resin tiles (see picture left).

BoardGameGeek have now created some similar resin skill tiles for the game Keyflower, with nine additional doubled sided tiles for use with Key Flow. So if you are interested in upgrading your games of Keyflower and Key Flow, head over the BoardGameGeek store at
https://boardgamegeekstore.com/

Available late 2018.
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11. Board Game: Key Flow [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:1699]
Richard Breese
United Kingdom
Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
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We hope you have found this geek list interesting and that you get the opportunity to play and enjoy a game of Key Flow.

We feel confident you will find and engaging and challenging game that plays quickly with any player count from two to six players.
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