Keythedral: Strategies

Object of the game

Do not lose sight of the object of the game, which is to purchase building tiles, not to acquire the most houses or to fence off the most fields!

Turn order
There are slight advantages and disadvantages inherent in a player’s turn order position during the set set-up phase. The first player can always place a cottage tile adjacent to the Keythedral tile, where there is marginally less competition for the fields as no worker is played from the Keythedral tile (and there is no chance of the Keythedral tile becoming a house and generating two workers.) In a three player game the first player will be able to place two tiles adjacent to the Keythedral tile. In a five player game the 5th player may not be able to place a cottage tile next to the Keythedral tile if the first four players decide to do so. However, there is an advantage in playing the very last field tile as it can be placed in such a position so as to give the last player exclusive access to that field.

Placing cottage and field tiles

Try to avoid having a cottage tile next to one of the same number which is owned by the player to your right, otherwise in all but your own turn in phase one, the player on your right will be able to place a worker in the field between your cottages first.

Make sure all of your cottages can access at least three fields. A cottage on the edge of the board, which can only access one or two fields, is especially vulnerable to being unable to place its worker.

Access to the grey and brown fields are particularly useful at the beginning of the game as stone and timber are the most used resources in the building stages 1 and 2 of the Keythedral and they are also required to build houses. Black is not required in building the Keythedral after phase two. Timber is required in stages 1 to 3 of the Keythedral building, but not after stage 3, and timber is also required in order to construct fences. Blue and green are moderately useful throughout the game as food and water are required in all stages of the Keythedral building. Red is useful from stage 3 onwards, where wine may be used to reward the Keythedral builders and also throughout the game in order to dismantle a fence.

Buying houses

The earlier in the game that a house is built, the more valuable it will be as it will enable a second worker to be played a greater number of times.

The fewer number of players, the more valuable the houses become, as there are usually more rounds in a game when there are fewer players, and therefore more opportunities for two workers to be used.

Acquiring building tiles

It often pays to purchase ironwork, stained glass or gold cube before these are actually required (to purchase the number 3, 4 and 5 building tiles) in order to be in a position to purchase the building tiles containing these requirements first, once they are turned over. Usually there is a requirement for at least one cube of each type during a game, however this is a little bit of gamble as sometimes one particular type of craft cube is not required.

The cost of a building tile in cubes is one more than the number on the building tile. Therefore per ‘victory point’ it is slightly cheaper to purchase the higher numbered building tiles than the lower numbered tiles. However it is unlikely that a player can win by buying only high numbered tiles.

The building tiles are placed face down so that the exact requirements for the Keythedral are not known. This adds to the tension as the tiles are revealed and, as it is a family game, provides more opportunity for the less able players to win by anticipating the requirements of the number 5 tiles. The disadvantage is that it brings a little more luck into the game then has been traditional for the ‘Key’ series of games. The luck element would be avoided if all the tiles were face up and this alternative is offered in variation 3.


It is expensive to dismantle a fence – two red cubes (if it were cheaper then there would be less incentive for players to build fences). If someone builds a fence next to one of your cottages and you want to ‘counter attack’, it is usually more effective to build a fence next to one of their cottages instead of attempting to dismantle the fence your opponent has built.

Change of start player

One play tester consistently bid to choose the start player and then nominated the player to his right. As a result he played second and then first when placing worker counters and became the player to auction the start player marker in the following round. This was a neat idea but the cost for the bidding for the marker each round seemed to outweigh the benefits. This could perhaps be a successful tactic on an ad hoc rather than on an every turn basis.


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This site is created and maintained by: Carl-Gustaf Samuelsson