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Key Flow review in nine words: it’s Keyflower, minus hexes and auctions, plus card drafting. Done! If you don’t know Keyflower then that’s as useful as mud, of course. So: both games are from the same design team. Both are surprisingly intense engine-builders, where each player constructs and populates a village over four seasons, gathering resources and scoring points based on their buildings. DiTherent things happen in different seasons: ships arrive in summer, stores are filled in autumn, everything scores in winter.

Key Flow ditches hexes for cards, and your villages are built along a river (bottom level) and a road (top level). The way the cards are placed is not just strategic, it’s also deeply satisfying. You’re creating a lovely community that makes stuff and trades with its neighbours and it’s just ooooh. Except sometimes it’s aaargh. From Key Flow’s art it looks like it’s going to be pastoral and lovely, but this is an intelligent, Thercely tactical, challenging title with ever-changing gameplay. Speaking as a designer, I wish I’d created this. As a player, if you like engine-builders then this is a must-try.

But you can’t ignore the similarities to Keyflower. They’re like parallel universe versions of the same game and, honestly, if you have one then you probably don’t want the other. For me Key Flow just has the edge but then I like drafting games. One thing’s for sure: if you’re new to the Key universe, either of these titles makes an excellent start point.


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About The Best Games of 2019

Must Plays and more in our Best Games of 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Over the next 196 pages discover all of the most positively reviewed games of the year. With a massive 181 games reviewed, this is the definitive “what to play next” guide of 2019! Games reviewed include: Wingspan Copenhagen Hellboy: The Board Game Res Arcana Lifeform Century: A New World Megacity: Oceania Pandemic: Fall of Rome Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Rough Nights & Hard Days Azul: Stained Glass of Sinatra Tapestry Letter Jam Hako Onna Everdell Battle Ravens Dune + Many more!

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