17th December 2013

We planned to start early and get in a quick game of the “Feature Game”, Morels, however, we had just finished going through the rules and were just about to start when the late arrivals arrived early.  So, we left the mushrooms for another day and moved on to one of our favourites, Keyflower.  The reason why we were all especially keen to play this, is that the expansion, Keyflower:  The Farmers was released at Essen and we had been waiting since October for a good opportunity to give it an outing.  There are two documented ways to integrate the expansion with the main game:  you can choose tiles randomly from those available in the base game and the expansion, or you can use all the farming tiles and just use random base game tiles to “top up” the numbers.  Since it was the first time any of us had played the expansion, we chose to use this latter, “Farmers Variant”.

Keyflower

The idea behind the expansion is so simple that it is really very clever, and it is hard to believe that it wasn’t designed at the same time as the base game (though according to the designer, it was not).  In summary, the structure of the game remains the exactly same, but the new tiles give you access to animals which you place in the fields defined by the roads and the edge of the village.  There are a handful of rules associated with the animals (they breed at the end of spring, summer and autumn, but not winter because its too cold; they don’t breed if they are sharing with other animals because they are too shy), and the expansion also introduces wheat (which can be used to entice animals from one field to another or to encourage the horse pulling the cart enabling it to move more resources), but otherwise the game is essentially the same.  Or not…

Keyflower

As usual, we handed out our winter tiles and a handful of meeples (or Keyples as they are called in this game), before the spring tiles were laid out for everyone to look at.  With the farmers expansion, sheep are introduced in spring, pigs in summer, and cows in autumn.  So sheep came out first and Blue and Green got the key sheep producing tiles, and everyone with sheep tried to make sure they had at least two so that they could profit from the end of season breeding.  Unusually, almost no resource production tiles came out as these were of course displaced by the animal tiles, and this was the way it stayed for the rest of the game.  On the other hand, all the “green Keyple” tiles came out making them more abundant than usual.

Keyflower

In summer and autumn, Yellow tried to get into the animal husbandry business breeding pink cows and got into a tussle for it with Blue, who largely lost out and played most of the game with a village of just four tiles.  Meanwhile, the other sheep-farmer, Green, eschewed pigs and cows and concentrated on expanding his flock to nearly epic proportions.  By winter, Blue, with her hamlet and miniscule fields, was stacking pigs and cows in a way that would not have won favour from the RSCPA and Green (the shepherd) was trying to obtain the services of a weaver to increase the value of his flock.  Meanwhile, Yellow was trying to expanded his cattle business and Red, the only player who had managed to get resource production tiles was mining for gold, employing a jeweller to maximise her the outcome from her gold and moving iron from one side of her village to the other.  In the dying moves of the game, the Yellow outbid Blue for the dairy who in turn placed a large bid for the weaver which Green was unable to match.  This cost Green somewhere in the region of twenty points and forced him to take the hillside tile and try to make the best use of it he could.  Despite the inconvenience, Green still romped away with the win some twenty points ahead of Blue and Yellow who came joint second.  Even so, somehow this didn’t seem quite as much of a white-wash as last time

Keyflower

Learning Outcome:  Trying to breed pink cows does not make you a better farmer!

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