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Subject: Do You Want The Truth Reviews Keyflower rss

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Dustin Bartman
Canada
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Review Date: August 30th, 2015

Ages: 13+

Players: 2-6

Time: 90 – 120 Minutes

Release Date: 2012

Mechanics: Bidding, City Building, Worker Placement

Designer: Sebastian Bleasdale, Richard Breese

Publisher: R&D Games




Introduction


In Keyflower players have 1 year to build the most prosperous town possible. Each season new workers will be added to your town and new buildings will be brought out to purchase. There is bidding, resource management, deduction, and so much more to do in this game.

Gameplay


Players will each start with a home tile and 8 workers (a mix of blue, red, and yellow drawn randomly.) At the start of each season a number of available building/boat tiles are placed in the center for players to bid on. At the end of the season the player who bid the most for a tile will get to take the tile and add it to their town. The biggest thing that sets this game apart from others is the way in which the bidding works. Players will use any number of meeples of the same color to bid on a building. Any subsequent bids on that tile must be made with meeples of the same color. Players also have the option of using a tile for its action by placing workers on a tile. A tile may be used up to 3 times a season and each time you must use 1 more worker than the previous user of the tile. You may use a tile in your town, an opponent’s town, or one of the tiles being bid for. Worker color still matters. If a tile has been bid on with a blue worker, then only blue workers may use that tile for the rest of the season. Alternatively if a tile has been used by a blue meeple then only blue meeples can bid on that tile.



The player to the North bid 1 on this tile and the player to the Southeast bid 2. A player also used the ability of this tile to generate 1 gold. Once added to a town this tile can be upgraded by paying 1 iron and 1 stone. Once upgraded it will produce 2 gold whenever used.



I’m only scratching the surface here, but players will have a lot of options each season. Players can use tiles to generate resources, move resources around their town, and use these resources to upgrade their tiles.



The season will end when all players have used as many of their workers as they want to. Any workers you used to bid will go back into the bag. Any workers (yours or your opponents) that used your tiles for their action will go back to your supply to be used in the next season. Between seasons new workers arrive via boat and new random tiles come out.


A typical town after spring bidding. Notice that the roads all match up.


Winter is the last season and the tiles work a little differently here. The winter tiles are generally the biggest scoring tiles in the game and they are not completely random. At the start of the game each player is given 2 or 3 secret winter tiles. Players must place at least 1 of these tiles in the center for bidding at the start of winter. These tiles will be bid on just like the other tiles were, and they will only score at the end of the game for the player that successfully bid on them. This adds an interesting twist in that a player will be able to adjust their spring, summer, and fall strategies based on the winter tiles they are dealt however there is no guarantee that the player will win the bid on these tiles.



The game components with a player screen in the background.



Strategies That Work For Me


Bid Lightly: My number 1 tip for new players is to be very conservative with your bids. You want to start the season with as many workers as possible so that you can do more than all of your opponents. Remember that workers that you use to bid do not come back to you even if you win the bid. In the spring I will rarely bid more than 2 meeples per tile. In the summer and fall 3 meeples is usually my max bid. Of course there are always exceptions to this.



Keep Track Of Opponents Workers: This should be fairly obvious, but I’ll mention it anyways. If you are playing a 2 or 3-player game you at least want to know what color of meeple your opponents are weak in. A single strategically placed meeple can ruin your opponent’s season.



Upgrade Tiles ASAP: Upgrading your tiles have 2 advantages. First you will score more at the end of the game for an upgraded tile. Second and probably more importantly upgraded tiles are more likely to be used by your opponents. Any workers that your opponents place on your tiles will go into your supply at the end of the season.



Combo Tiles: Keep an eye out for tiles that compliment each other. You will not win the game by having the most tiles; you will win by having the most efficiently placed tiles.

The Truth


I’ll start by saying that I really liked this game, so any complaints here will be minor.



Cost: Speaking strictly as a person who buys a lot of games, I didn’t feel like there was $50 worth of stuff in the box. I’ll be honest, I have no clue what it costs to manufacture 141 meeples so I might be way off here, but it felt a little overpriced to me.



Player Screens: Yes they are all unique and cute, but they are also flimsy, hard to put together without damaging, and they take up a lot of room in the box.



Box Organization: Games like this make me wish I knew how to make foam core inserts. There is no insert, you are given a bunch of zip lock bags to sort and store your pieces in.



Tiles: 2 minor issues here. The tiles felt a little dull to me; I would have liked to have seen brighter colors used. Also slightly thicker tiles would have been nice.



Overpowered Tiles: I find that a few of the tiles are slightly overpowered compared to the rest. Take for instance the boat ‘White Wind’ which will score you 1 point for every worker you have in your village at the end of the game (as long as they are not being scored elsewhere.) Most other boat tiles will score you 5-10 points at the end of the game, but the player who snags this boat can easily score 20 without even trying.



There are a few other winter tiles that tend to be slightly more efficient. It takes a few plays to figure it out so a seasoned player will have a clear advantage over someone who is playing for their first time.



Resource Shortage: In a 6 player game you will rarely run out of meeples, but the same can’t be said for resources. If multiple players are stocking up on resources then you will often run out by fall. This can easily ruin your game if you have a resource generating engine going and nothing to generate. An extra 12 or so of each resource would have been great.

The Beautiful


Length/Weight Sweet Spot: For me this game is the perfect length and weight. It is long enough that you feel that you are accomplishing something, but it doesn’t get boring or repetitive. There are enough meaningful decisions to be made throughout the game, but you are rarely overwhelmed with having too many things to consider.



Meeple Bidding/Actions: Having multiple meeple colors to bid with adds so much strategy to this game and elevates it from a good worker placement game to an amazing overall experience. Figuring out which colors your opponent is weak in and using this information to your advantage adds a whole new level of strategic depth to the game.



Strategic Uncertainty: Every single game of Keyflower will be different. I know that people say that about so many other games, but it is 100% true with Keyflower. I’ve had games where both of my winter tiles were based on getting a lot of tools. Spring rolled around and no tool tiles came out…summer came and still no tool tiles…same thing in the fall. Even if a lot of tool tiles had come out there is no certainty that I would have gotten my 2 original winter tiles after the winter bidding. A strategically placed bid could have shut me out.



Now I realize that a lot of people may not consider this to be a good thing since you can be at a major disadvantage if the tile shuffle doesn’t go your way. I however think that there is a good balance to the randomness. Yes, every once in a blue moon you will lose a game because the tiles that you need don’t come out, but most of the time you will be able to find a way to score a decent amount of points in the end. You may need to switch up your strategy when the new seasons tiles are revealed, but it makes the game more interesting.



The tile randomness will be much more extreme in low player count games since there is a lower number of tiles that will come out.



Good Balance Of Mechanisms: You need to bid on tiles, build an efficient village, manage your workers and resources, and try to figure out what your opponents are hiding. All of these things blend together really well to make a solid overall experience.

Overall Score: 9/10


I could go on and on about how much I love this game, but I want to keep this review as short as possible. I have been infatuated with this game for the past few months. It has been a big hit and I bring it to the table whenever I get a chance. It is one of those games that you will want to play again and again even if it is 2 in the morning.



If you haven’t experienced Keyflower yet go out and try this game ASAP.

check out my other reviews at www.doyouwantthetruth.ca
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Nice review! thumbsup

dcb411 wrote:
Overpowered Tiles: I find that a few of the tiles are slightly overpowered compared to the rest. Take for instance the boat ‘White Wind’ which will score you 1 point for every worker you have in your village at the end of the game (as long as they are not being scored elsewhere.) Most other boat tiles will score you 5-10 points at the end of the game, but the player who snags this boat can easily score 20 without even trying.

I find that any "overpowered" issues are neatly taken care of by the bidding. If this boat is so strong that everyone wants it, then naturally people will bid heavily on being first to choose a boat, which will make it less good (since the meeples of the winning bid don't score anymore), and more costly (since those meeples can't be used for other tasks anymore).

Now, obviously, it's good strategy to bid early on this boat with a color other players aren't very strong in, but that just means that in autumn there should be strong bidding for becoming start player, and additionally this particular boat only shows up in a 6-player game, which means that there's almost guaranteed to be other players who're strong in whichever color gets chosen, which means that bidding is virtually guaranteed to go up to the point of diminishing returns.
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Tom C.
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Additionally, biding conservative is of course a good general guide, but in this game the first 2 seasons are the only time you can get production tiles, which are critical. Miss out on those and you'll have an uphill climb. I have found through repeated plays that the bidding strategies in this game are varied each game, and strategies always depend on many factors, which is good. I only have a few games I rate as tens, and this is one. It's very balanced with experienced gamers.
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Adam Kazimierczak
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Each game of Keyflower presents a different challenge due to the meta of your players and their bidding styles as well as the random exclusion of some tiles. Having a shortage of one resource on the board can be vwry painful but also very rewarding if you nab the only source.

Amazing game-- a dozen or so plays in and I still have no desire to crack open the expansions yet.
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Dustin Bartman
Canada
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kaziam wrote:
Each game of Keyflower presents a different challenge due to the meta of your players and their bidding styles as well as the random exclusion of some tiles. Having a shortage of one resource on the board can be vwry painful but also very rewarding if you nab the only source.

Amazing game-- a dozen or so plays in and I still have no desire to crack open the expansions yet.


Agreed. I'm scared to even purchase the expansions because in my mind I am thinking there is no way that they can improve the game.

(Just to be clear I will buy them eventually, but the base game still has plenty of legs before I place my order.)
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Alex P
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dcb411 wrote:

Agreed. I'm scared to even purchase the expansions because in my mind I am thinking there is no way that they can improve the game.

(Just to be clear I will buy them eventually, but the base game still has plenty of legs before I place my order.)


Keyflower: The Merchants allows one to get around completely unpredictable shortages with contracts that, in a pinch, can be used to get one of a specific resource.
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omar
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I love this game and would like to add a few thoughts to your excellent review:

- green meeples are worth GOLD. Try to get them if possible and try to block the tile that might provide them to opponenets

- Being the first to place can be devastating. Consider winning the first player meeple (and block with greendevil)

- Place tiles to reduce transport costs when upgrading, e.g. if a tile requires gold, place it close to gold production tile or home tile


Truly, the default box organisation is crap. I made an insert that houses the game and the farmer expansion (will remodel when i get the merchants).

Contrary to you Dustin, I love the design and colors. You are right about the shields/houses though.

Sorry to hear its so costly where you live, however, I really encourage any serious gamer to consider overcoming the cost hurdle and get Keyflower (reasonably priced in Europe imo)


O)
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