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Store:  Strategy Games
Series:  Key
Theme:  Fantasy
Format:  Board Games


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Ages Play Time Players
12+ 60-75 minutes 2-5

Designer(s): Richard Breese

Manufacturer(s): R&D Games

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Product Description

Keytown is the third in the series of 'Key' games and contains the familiar mix of skill, constant interaction and decision making. Each player controls a team of townsfolk, which they promote as the new leaders of Keytown. In the 'olden days' (in the game Keydom) these teams specialized in different activities: mining, fishing, forestry, brewing and farming. With the passing of time, the townsfolk became skilled in each of these activities. They then aspired to gain further skills and experience as churchmen, councilors and tradesmen. With these new skills came seniority, prestige and high standing amongst their peers. Keytown is played over four rounds; each round represents a generation in the lives of the townsfolk, during which the townsfolk may work or study in the resource locations, gain new skills in the church, council or market, or start a family in a cottage. After four generations, one of these teams is destined to emerge as the new leaders of Keytown. The winner of the game is the player whose townsfolk are collectively held in the most esteem at the end of round four. Like Keydom, contents include full-colour board and counters, wooden cubes and counters. Rules and components are in English and German. Games are numbered and production is limited to 500 copies.

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Richard Breese

  • Manufacturer(s): R&D Games

  • Year: 2000

  • Players: 2 - 5

  • Time: 60 - 75 minutes

  • Ages: 12 and up

  • Weight: 720 grams

  • Language Requirements: Game components are printed in multiple languages, including English. Manufacturer's rules are printed in multiple languages (including English).

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.5 in 4 reviews

Your "Key" to Great Gaming!
November 28, 2000

I like this game more and more each time that I play it. At first, the counterintuitive mechanics did indeed cause some confusion, but when a clearer understanding of what was being simulated finally emerged, I fell in love with Keytown.

There are so many clever things in this simple game, I don't know where to begin. The phase of openly laying tiles is interesting as players jockey for position. The rotating phase of allocating cubes is quite tense as you realize the cubes that you're placing on opponent tiles will possibly be used against you next turn! The 'distraction' (harlot) purple tile gives you a one-time chance to hamper another player. The multiplier counters offer an opportunity to create uncertainty and to bluff. Cottages, where tiles can procreate and thus increase your pool, add yet another strategy element. The option to change the player turn order, at an ever increasing VP cost, is intriguing. The fact that tiles are worth VP's equal to their squared value, not just their added value, encourage players to attempt the difficult task of advancing their higher-numbered pieces. I could go on....

Sure, the board did not lay flat, and the box was a bit flimsy, but do not judge this title based on a single play. KEYTOWN has been a big hit with my group, and is easily one of my favorite Euro's of the past year. As mentioned, the rules (with examples) are seamless, as is the flow of play.

I cannot rate this item against the designer's previous efforts in this series (Keydom and Keywood) as I have never seen, let alone played, those rare games. Nonetheless, Keytown stands tall on its own merits--this is a terrific package, and well worth your time and money.

Not a classic, but very, very good
January 01, 2001

Some games feel like they were cut out with a cookie cutter. Another wargame with the same mechanics as hundreds before it, or the latest makeover of Monopoly. It isn't often that a game feels like a labor of love.

Keytown is the latest in the well-received Key series by Richard Breese. Each of the games has been better than its predecssor, if the newsgroups are to be believed, and even the first was quite good for a first-time design.

Keytown, as described elsewhere on this page, is a competition for prestige over the course of four generations of Keytowner life. Players start with identical clans of peasants, and devote them one at a time to various pursuits around the beautiful board. Some clan members may try to gain prestige directly in the three main town sites, or engage in somewhat more 'entertaining' pursuits, which lead to new family members. Or they can work the fields, forests, mines, and so on, gaining the materials needed to further their goals.

Each turn takes a number of rounds, each devoted to a different activity, and players feel constantly involved, as they must react to the placements of each other player. There is a very real ability in this game to mess with another player, but this usually allows the other player to return the 'compliment' on the next round. Keytown can turn very, very nasty.

At first glance, the game does not appear to be a cutthroat gaming experience. Indeed, it looks like rather light fare. Do not be fooled. This is backstabbing at its best and most blackhearted. This is definitely a think piece, too, with tough decisions every turn. It is for this reason that I do not give it full marks. If it were a bit lighter and more family-accessible I would have no qualms about giving it 5 of 5.

Oh, yes, and the board would have to lie flat, too! :)

Wonderful game of selfish competition
November 26, 2000

I totally disagree with the previous review. I found the artwork to be very pleasing, and often humorous if you looked closely enough. We also had the problem with the board not laying flat, but that's not a big deal.

As described in the summary, the theme of the game involves making your family the most prominent and powerful in the village. Maybe the bidding doesn't make too much sense in the theme of the game, but then again it's basically an abstract game. How many other great German games have loosely fitted themes?

In the first phase, you place tiles throughout the different sections of the board. This is where you can help yourself by deciding what aspect of the game to focus on for this round.

Later, in the cube placing phase (or bidding) you put cubes on the previously laid tiles. This is where the game really stands out. In order to climb your way up the social ladder, you have to step on everyone else! For the most part, you can't really place cubes that help you, only cubes that hurt your opponents. Unfortunately, any cubes you place on an opponent's tiles are kept by that player for use against you the next round. This makes for some bitter rivalries and sneaky backstabbing, much like real social climbing. For any gamers who have complained about games not having enough player interaction, this is the game for you.

My main problem with the game is that it is a little too math-heavy for my tastes. Don't let this deter you, though, because there is no more math than a game like Torres or El Grande.

Overall, I found it to be a fascinating game of checks and balances, with far more things you want to do in a phase/turn than you are able to do. Both of these are hallmarks of a good game.

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