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Subject: First time playing... First session report rss

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Tim Why
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Hi there,
This is my first session report - just wanted to give a few first impressions on this game that I played for the first time... too early for a review but enough to get a few thoughts down. I don't really want to re-hash the mundane details of the game, but just a few impressions and "feels" as I played it... enjoy

Preamble

"A Keythedral is to be built in the fields near Keytown, in the middle of the Keydom. The inhabitants of Keyland will gather..."

I had suggested this game as a "Settlers but without as much luck" to which my friends enthusiastically agreed to try. One of them picks up the instructions and reads off the very first line, as above... groans and chuckles ensue as the sheer cheesiness of that first line pervades the air. The night then proceeds to be a "Key-" related pun-fest, as no one took the game seriously...

Rules Explanation

This went smoothly enough, as those present were reasonably experienced gamers... they just kept asking for the "Key" points... shake

It was definitely hard to shake the Settlers preconceptions, as people kept making jokes about building the "longest fence", referring to the forests as "hills" - because they do look like little brown mounds!

We found the game sped up a bit if we simply handed out the work order "towers" from 1-5 starting from the first player, so people would try to plan ahead. Also, we picked up the cubes as we placed the workers, except for the last turn when someone had a Law card they wanted to play which affected the number of cubes to pick up.

Gameplay

As it was the first time for all of us, it was interesting to see how the strategies played out. I was mindful to read out the strategy "hints" included in the instruction manual, so that I didn't have too much of an advantage. Initial cottage placements were fairly reasonable throughout.

Early actions showed the divergent strategies of the players. Some immediately sought to upgrade to houses, while others planned to hoard their resources for larger purchases. I decided to go for a more balanced approach, buying Keythedral seats when I could, and upgrading when possible. I also obtained a law card early, which I couldn't use immediately, but came in handy later.

Strangely enough, despite reiterating the importance of turn order, there were not very high bids for placement of the start marker. I think the highest was 2 cubes, and so the start player for practically the entire game was either the player to my right, or two to my right. This allowed me to max-out on my resource collection most times.

One player often complained about the slow pace of the game, citing long downtime between turns. I had suggested that they should plan their next move, instead of waiting for their turn before starting to look at the board... as it turns out, they were most often taking the longest for their turn, with every other player completing their turn within seconds.

Impressions

I enjoyed this game and the tactical aspect of resource collection. I did not have any concerns regarding the downtime. Despite the supposed lack of luck, I found that it did play a rather big role in my victory. I obtained an early Law card which allowed me to trade 1:1 for a used craft cube. I grabbed a gold cube as soon as someone spent it for one of the "10" seats. Luckily as the "12" seats were revealed, there was one that I could buy immediately (although there was definitely some strategy involved in getting a variety of resources along with the gold). It pretty much sealed the victory for me as I had previously bought several high-numbered seats.

So - barring the silly intro (I explained that it was in a line of "Key-" games, the first few of which I did not own), I found it quite enjoyable and look forward to playing it more!

hobbes
 
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Mike Frantz
United States
Wenatchee
Washington
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I've never played the game, but I think I have read of a popular variant that has more of the upcoming seats turned face up...which allows planning ahead for which resources you need. So you can choose what seats to target. Mitigates some of that "luck."
 
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Graham Smallwood
United States
Santa Ana
California
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TWO Equals in an "if" statement!!!
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And the one change I've picked up from the variants here is to deal the two law cards face up. More of an informed decision for when to pass, and everyone knows what cards are out there.
 
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J C Lawrence
United States
Campbell
California
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We play the entire game open. The law cards are dealt out face up, all keythedral tiles are face up, and there are no player shields. This leaves nothing hidden in the game except for player decisions, and the only random factor is which law cards appear when.
 
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Tim Why
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Thanks for all the suggestions.

I was wondering if a compromise might be do-able...

a) Instead of revealing all or two rows of the Keythedral seats, maybe reveal 3 rows, but allowing players to only buy from the bottom two. This way there is *some* planning, but still a bit of surprise.

b) How about revealing one law card face up, and one face down. Again, there is *some* idea of what's out there, but still some mystery and surprise. In the game I played, people picked up the law cards fairly quickly, and they call came in fairly handily when played.

Overall, I did enjoy the game and do sometimes like a bit of the luck aspect (when it goes in my favour, usually )

 
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