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Store:  Family Games, Ding & Dent
Edition:  Keythedral
Series:  Key
Theme:  Fantasy
Format:  Board Games, Placement / Tile-Laying Games


numbered limited edition of 600

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
8+ 60-90 minutes 2-5

Designer(s): Richard Breese

Manufacturer(s): R&D Games

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Product Description

A keythedral is to be built in the middle of keydom. Your workers are hereby requested to assist in the gathering of materials for the five building phases.

Accommodation supplied.

Assistance available at a price.

All contributors suitably rewarded.

Please apply.

Product Awards

International Gamers Awards
Best Strategy Game Nominee, 2005

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Richard Breese

  • Manufacturer(s): R&D Games

  • Artist(s): Juliet Breese

  • Year: 2002

  • Players: 2 - 5

  • Time: 60 - 90 minutes

  • Ages: 8 and up

  • Weight: 1,160 grams

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


  • 2 playing mats
  • 29 octagonal field tiles
  • 34 building tiles
  • 1 keythedral tile
  • 25 cottage tiles
  • 51 worker counters
  • 20 law cards
  • 85 wooden resource cubes
  • 30 wooden craft cubes
  • 15 wooden fence markers
  • 1 wooden start player marker
  • 5 work order markers
  • 5 turn order cards
  • 5 player screens
  • 1 rules booklet

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.5 in 2 reviews

Fantastic bits, and a simple, great game!
September 15, 2003

If theres one game that I could pick to be reprinted, it would be Keythedral (R & D Games, 2002 Richard Breese). One of Mr. Breeses previous games, Keydom, was republished as Alladins Dragons a fantastic game, and I feel that Keythedral has the same promise.

But at the same time, I love owning one of the @ 500 games that Richard Breese self-published. The game is a work of art, having a good theme, and excellent game play. One of the things that drew me to this game was that it had octagons rather than hexagons a rare sight in games! The next time you see a sign-up list to preorder one of Breeses games, get on it! Keythedral is rapidly becoming one of my favorite games, and Ill tell you why, starting with a description of game play.

Each player chooses a color and takes ten round tiles of that color (workers), three fences (straight wooden sticks like the roads from Settlers) and five square tiles numbered one to five. The square tiles have two sides a cottage side and a house side. A small board depicting the Keythedral is placed on the table. It has five circles at the bottom numbered one through five. It also has seventeen squares numbered from one to five (four 1, 2, and 3, three 4, and two 5). Each player is given a screen in their color, which they may keep all of their stuff hidden from other players. Another board is placed on the table, which explains some of the rules, and has cubes (yellow, purple, and white) and law cards placed on it. The remainder of the cubes (brown, black, green, red, and blue) are placed in the box. The law cards are shuffled and placed in a draw pile on the board, with two cards flipped face up for all players to see. Building tiles with numerical values from one to five are shuffled and are placed face down on the matching squares on the Keythedral. Five round green tokens are placed near the boards. The start player (youngest player on the first turn) is given a start token to indicate this.

The players then set up the actual playing board. Each player takes a turn and places an octagonal tile on the board (each tile represents one kind of resource red, wine; black, quarry; green, farms; blue, lakes; and brown, woods.) and one of their square tiles, cottage side up, adjacent to the octagonal tile. Once each player has placed all their cottage tiles, the game is ready to begin. All the 1 tiles on the Keythedral board are turned face up, and the first turn begins. Each turn is made up of five phases.

The first phase involves placing worker counters. First the start player takes the round green token marked first, and places it on one of the round numbered spaces on the Keythedral board. The chosen number is the current active cottage. Each player, starting with the start player, moves a worker off of their matching cottage onto an adjacent tile. Only one worker may occupy an octagonal tile, so if there is no tile available to the worker to move to, the player cannot place it that turn. The next player takes the round green token marked second and places it on a different round numbered space, and the same process occurs until all five cottages have been used. Phase two then occurs, which involves collecting resource cubes. Each player receives one cube of the matching color of any octagonal tile where they have a worker.

The third phase involves spending resource cubes. There are many different things a player can do with their cubes:

- Build a house: The player may pay one black and one brown cube to change one of their cottages into a house. On future first phases, when that number is selected, the player may move two workers off from that house onto adjacent tiles.

- Build a fence: The player may pay one brown cube to place a fence between a cottage and an adjacent tile, blocking that player from moving a worker between those two tiles.

- Bribe workers: The player may pay two red cubes to remove a fence from the game.

- Buy a law card: A player can pay one cube to buy one of the face-up law cards (which is replaced at the end of the round). These cards give the player special actions during the game. Once a player buys a law card, they may do nothing else with their resource cubes this turn.

- Buy the special cubes: A player can exchange any two cubes for one white cube, any three cubes for a purple cube, and any four cubes for a yellow cube.

- Trade with the trader: A player can exchange any two cubes for one cube of the color they need (from the box).

- Buy a seat in the Keythedral: Each face up tile in the Keythedral shows from two to four different colored cubes. If a player pays these cubes, they remove the tile and place it behind their screen. Once all the 1 tiles are bought, the 2s are flipped over, then the 3s, etc.

Players take one of these actions in turn order, until all players have passed (or bought law cards.)

The fourth phase includes players retrieving their worker counters. The green round counters are also removed from the board, and new law cards turned over if necessary.

The fifth player includes an auction to see who will be the start player. The start marker is passed to the next player, and then each player bids once, in order an amount of cubes. The player holding the start marker makes the final bid, and if they win, they place the amount of cubes they bid into the box and are the start player the following turn. If any other player wins, they pay their cubes to the player holding the start marker, and then take the start marker themselves.

When the last tile is removed from the Keythedral, the game ends. Each player then adds the numbers on all the Keythedral tiles they have taken, and the player with the highest total is the winner!

Some comments on the game:

1.) Components: The components for this game are stunning. Usually, when a small company or an individual self produce a game, I expect to see slightly lower quality in the components. But these components blow me away. The only one I was disappointed with was the box, which is not very sturdy, and falls apart rather easily. The round worker counters and the octagonal tiles are amazing. Every single one has different artwork on it! There is almost no duplicate artwork in the game, which is incredible with the amount of pieces in the game. Little turn order cards are very helpful to the players when playing the games. The wooden cubes are large, and are brightly colored, making them easy to handle and distinguish on the board. All the tiles are a good thickness, and look really sharp on the table. One multi-colored worker is included in the game, in case a worker tile is lost. Even with the low quality box, I have to give the components of this game an A+!

2.) Rules: The rules are printed in a large 12 page booklet. They are extremely well written and easy to understand. The game is easy to teach, but the placement for the tiles is very important, and a round of the game might need to be played with new players, then the game restarted, so that players better put down their tiles. In the rules, there are detailed explanations of each law card.

3.) Strategy: There are so many decisions to make in the game, and strategy on many different levels. First, setting up the board is rather strategic, as players must try to maximize the positions of their cottages. Then, when moving workers into the tiles, a player must be careful to try and get as many of their workers on tiles, while canceling the movement of their opponents. The most strategic decisions to be made are during the third phase. What should a player spend their resources on? Its important to upgrade cottages to houses, but at the same time, a player cannot avoid buying Keythedral cubes. Should a player buy the expensive cubes early in the game (yellow, white, purple), so they have them ready at the end (they are needed for the 4 and 5 tiles), or buy other things? When should a law card (useful but not that powerful) be bought? There are many decisions, but the game runs quickly, and there is very little analysis paralysis.

4.) Variants: Three variants are included with the game, and I have found several more on the internet. My personal favorite variants are turning over all the Keythedral tiles at the beginning of the game, so that all players can plan long-range strategy, and adding one more of each numbered Keythedral tile on the board.

5.) Staying in the game: Even if a player is losing, because the final tiles are worth five points, its very possible for a player to go from last place to first if the other players arent careful. I think this is a very good thing in games.

6.) Fun Factor: The theme is well integrated in the game, and helps make the game immensely enjoyable. Once the game is learned, it can be played in a little over an hour, and provides quite a bit of fun for all those involved. There are very few games that people pick up quickly, yet have extremely diverse strategies. Keythedral is one of them.

Its hard to compare Keythedral to other games, as it is fairly unique, yet seems strangely familiar. Its one of my favorite games to pull out, and I have yet to play it with anyone who does not enjoy it. Mr. Breese has done a fantastic job. The only problem is going to be finding a copy to purchase. Lets hope a company picks up the rights to this fantastic game and republishes it. But if before then, you have the opportunity to get this game, dont pass it up you wont regret it!

Tom Vasel

by ASF
Quick, Clever and Fun
November 09, 2002

Played twice now and proving popular with all but the crankiest of players, Keythedral provides a very pleasant gaming experience.

It starts with some strategy and luck in the setup phase, as each player draws a face-down terrain (octagon) tile and places it face-up on the table along with one of his five numbered cottage tiles. You don't want to compete with the player on your right, and finding a spot for your cottage which is or will be adjacent to four terrain tiles can be a challenge.

After setup, your goal is to maximize your worker placement each round and thus your supply of resource cubes. This is dependent on the number of cottages you've converted to houses (one black and one brown cube) and the order in which the cottages/houses produce workers. You want to get, say, seven cubes in each of the later rounds while your opponents get four or five.

Every cube has value, and you must carefully choose how to use them. For example, you'll almost certainly want to trade in four of any type for a gold cube late in the game -- but *when* you do this is important, a calculated risk -- and so is which cubes you keep, since you save resources if you can produce a cube of a desired type instead of trading for it.

Player turn order can be crucial when competing for the higher valued (VP) tiles late in the game, and bidding with cubes for turn order takes place after every round (about six or so) of the game -- a nice touch.

Influential law (special action) cards can be purchased for a cube, but only two are available per round and once you buy one you can perform no other actions. Other actions include building and demolishing fences.

Choices abound: do I go for the small-value VP tiles or hoard my cubes and wait for the more valuable ones? Do I build a fence just to stay in the round, hoping the next group of tiles gets revealed, or buy a law card before someone else does? Do I trade in three cubes for a purple one (stained glass) before anyone else does, hoping that one will show up later? When should I play those sneaky law cards I'm holding?

There are 46 VP's in the game, so amassing 13 VP's may be enough to win. All players should have a shot when the final two 5 VP tiles are revealed and available for the taking, so everyone will almost always be in the game to the very end. Cardboard player screens hide everyone's cubes and other holdings, so memory can play a factor but probably not kingmaking.

All in all, a very solid and enjoyable game!

Other Resources for Keythedral:

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