Stadens Nyckel /
The Key To The City

Inventor: Dan Glimne
Graphics and layout: Marcus Thorell and Jonas Mases, AB Centralmedia, Stockholm
Illustrations: Per Gullarp and Studio Parente
Copyright 1998 Dan Glimne and Target Games AB.
Rules translation: Dan Glimne.
Distributed from The Rules Bank by Mike Siggins

In this game, you are the head of a noble family in a growing medieval city! Your goal is to obtain as much status as possible, by taking control over the new districts being added and developing them by establishing monasteries, hospices, market places and so on. You must also establish your influence over the four estates of the realm, through the various high offices. If at the end of the game your family has the highest status, you have won!


Setting Up the Game

First set up the gameboards: Place the city centre in the middle of the gameboard, correctly aligned with the river. Then place the extra gameboard, with the public offices and the status track, beside the big gameboard.

Sort out the 22 Development cards (backside: red, with ten golden keys). Temporarily set aside the 5 cards with ”The City Grows” (= Staden växer). Shuffle the remaining 17 cards and set 4 aside, unseen, face down in one pile beside the gameboard. Replace the 5 cards with ”The City Grows”, shuffle that 18-card pack well and place one Development card (D-card) face down on each of the blank card spaces on the gameboard.

Now turn up the four first cards (the ones closest to the space with the printed text ”New City District” (= Ny stadsdel)). Then stick the event marker in a plastic stand and place it on the word Start on the gameboard.

Then set up the card piles: Sort out and shuffle the 56 Money cards (= in denominations of 100, 200, 300 and 400 dalers). Place them face down in one pile beside the gameboard. This is the Money pile.

Take the lone card with the logo Stadens nyckel (= The Key To The City) and put it back in the box; this will be awarded to the winner at the end of the game!

Set aside the six Family cards and the six No Bid cards (= Avstår). They will shortly be handed out, see below. Shuffle the remaining 77 cards (36 Improvement cards and 41 Event cards) together and place face down in one pile beside the gameboard. This is the Event pile.

Finally, give the players their ”starting equipment”: All players roll the die. Highest wins, takes the turn order marker, sticks it in a plastic stand and places it before him. The turn order is always clockwise.

In turn order, each player chooses a family and receives the corresponding family card, 7 family crests and 3 seals, plus one No Bid card. Stick the family crests in plastic stands. Any remaining family cards, crests and seals (when fewer than six play) go back into the box and are not used.

Then, in turn order, the players each draw their starting hands:

Three players: 8 cards from the Money pile and 7 cards from the Event pile.

Four players: 7 cards from the Money pile and 6 cards from the Event pile.

Five players: 6 cards from the Money pile and 5 cards from the Event pile.

Six players: 5 cards from the Money pile and 4 cards from the Event pile.

Each player then places one family crest on the lowest space on the status track.

How the Game is Played

In short, this is how Stadens nyckel is played: Each game turn starts with the event marker being moved to the next upturned Development card, and the text on the card immediately takes effect. Then each player in sequence, starting with the player currently holding the turn order marker, has his turn. After this, the game turn ends, and the next one then commences.

On your turn, you may take one, none or both of the following actions, in whichever order you choose:

· Play one Event card or one Improvement card from your hand

· Claim or start a power struggle for one of the offices.

At the end of your turn, you draw one card from either the Money pile or the Event pile (your choice).

The game is no more difficult than that. The detailed rules for the actions and options will follow below.

The First Game Turn

On the very first game turn, the event marker is moved from Start to the first space, with the printed text ”New City District” (= Ny stadsdel). An auction is then held and the new district is placed on the board (see below), after which each player has his turn. From the second game turn on, the event marker is moved clockwise to the next board space with an upturned Development card.

The Development Cards on the Gameboard

As soon as the event marker is moved one space, the D-card on the space behind it is discarded. Turn up another D-card, so that there are always five upturned D-cards immediately in front of the event marker. When you know what is likely to happen during the coming turns, you may plan your tactics and strategy in anticipation of, for example, an imminent visit from His Majesty! Then the text on the D-card takes effect.

Note that as soon as the event marker is moved to a D-card with the text ”The City Grows” (= Staden växer”), all players must first of all roll the die to decide a new turn order. Highest wins and takes (or keeps) the turn order marker. Then the auction is held, and the new city district placed on the gameboard.

The picture texts in the corners of pages 2 and 3:

Utvecklingskort = Development cards Stadens nyckel-kortet = The Key To The City

Flyttpjäsen = The event marker Ättemarker = Family crests

Händelsekort = Event cards (backsides only) Turordningspjäsen = The turn order marker

Ett ättekort = A family card Ätternas sigill = The seals of the families

A New City District (via a Development card)

As soon as the event marker is moved to such a D-card (and also on the very first game turn), a new city district is placed on the gameboard according to the following procedure:

In order to decide who will control the new city district, first an auction is held. Each player secretly chooses one or more cards from his hand, and holds it/them hidden in his outstretched hand. Only Money cards and/or Bid cards (= cards with the text ”Budkort”) may be used. Then, the cards are revealed simultaneously.

The player with the highest bid has won, chooses one available city district, places it on the board and then places one of his crests on it.

By highest bid is meant the highest point total on the card or cards shown by the respective players. The points are the numbers shown on the small escutcheons in the upper lefthand corners on the Money cards and the Bid cards. If two players have the same highest bid, the winner is the one who comes before the other in turn order. You may if you wish refrain from bidding, by instead choosing to show your No Bid (= Avstår) card.

The winner must discard all the cards he showed. The other players take their cards back into hand.

As the winner you may choose any one of the remaining city districts in the box, and place it on the corresponding space on the board (note number and faint contours = paths). However, the new district must adjoin the city centre and/or at least one previously placed district – no ”islands” allowed! Should all six players happen to choose their No Bid cards during the auction, no new city district is placed.

A New City District (via an Event card)

As soon as you play an Event card with the text ”The City Grows” (= Staden växer) in your turn, you must immediately first place a new district on the game board (choose one and place it as per above) and then state a price (for example: ”300 dalers”).

If the player on your left accepts your stated price, he gives you that number of dalers (only Money cards may be used) from his hand, and then places one of his crests on the new district.

If he does not accept the bid, the opportunity passes to the next player in turn order and so on.

Should all the other players reject your bid, you yourself must pay the stated number of dalers to the ”bank” (discard the card or cards) after which you place one of your own crests on the new district. The price you state may not exceed the amount of dalers you yourself currently have.

The Improvement Cards

During the course of the game the various new districts will be improved through the establishing of monasteries, hospices, lycées, tanneries and so on.

On your turn you may place any Improvement card from your hand on any district, including one belonging to an opponent. You must also immediately pay the stated number of dalers from your hand. (The Money card or cards are discarded.)

On each district is shown a number (from 2 and up to 6) on top of a symbolic pile: this represents the maximum number of Improvement cards that may be placed on that particular district. You may only play ONE Improvement card on each turn. No Improvement cards may be placed on the city centre. If you play an Improvement card, you may not in the same turn play an Event card.

Two or more Improvement cards on the same district are always placed overlapping, with the upper edges visible – see explanatory picture in lower righthand corner of the last page of the Swedish rules. Every Improvement card has one or more symbols along the upper edge: a coin (symbolizing wealth), a crown (status), a cross (piety) or a tin cup (ill repute).

When you place Improvement cards on your own districts, you will want to do so to your tactical advantage, trying to build up a long unbroken row with the same symbol. On your opponents’ districts, however, you will want to interrupt their symbolic row-building! See below under the heading ”The end of the game”.

The Status Track

On this, you and the other players move your crests up whenever Status Points (SP) are awarded due to the D-cards. At the end of the game, players will receive several additional SP’s!

The Event Cards

Instead of playing an Improvement card from your hand on your turn, you may instead choose to play an Event card. The effects of the various Event cards are stated in the texts on them.

Bid cards (= Budkort) may only be used during an auction for a new city district. High Office cards (= Ämbete) may only be used during a power struggle.

The Event card ”Fire” (= Brand) may not be played on a city district that has a watch tower.

The picture texts in the corners of pages 4 and 5

Ämbetskortets poäng = Point value of the High Office card Negativt ämbetskort = Negative High Office card

Myntsymbol = Coin symbol Korssymbol = Cross symbol

Kronsymbol = Crown symbol Bleckmugg = Tin cup (symbol for ill repute

Exempel på max antal förbättringskort = Example of maximum number of Improvement cards

Power Struggle 1: Claiming a Vacant High Office

On the extra gameboard are portrayed each of the high offices representing the four estates of the realm: the nobility (Mayor), the clergy (Bishop), the townsmen (Master of the Guild) and the peasants (Alderman). When the game begins, these offices are vacant.

On your turn, you may (on behalf of one of the members of your line) if you wish claim a vacant office. To do this, you simply say: ”I claim the bishop’s office” (for example).

If none of the other players protests, you pay 100 dalers from your hand and place one of your seals on the space underneath the picture representing the office. It is now yours... until further notice.

If another player protests, thereby also claiming that office, a power struggle immediately results.

During a power struggle, you and the other player take turns playing cards from hand onto the table. Only Money cards and/or High Office cards (= Ämbete) may be used. The player with (eventually) the highest number of points showing on the table before him wins, and places his seal.

The point values on the Money cards and the High Office cards are shown on the small escutcheons in the upper lefthand corners. The player who first claimed the office plays the first card. ”Negative” High Office cards (with minus points) are of course instead played on your opponent’s pile in order to reduce his accumulated points. If you run out of playable cards in hand during a power struggle, your opponent may if he wishes continue to play further cards from his hands, as many as he wishes and can play. The player who protested MUST play at least one card.

You may if you wish at any time concede the struggle, admit defeat and play no more cards. If both players at the end have the same number of points (and none of them conceded the power struggle), the winner is the player who first claimed the office.

Ending the power struggle (IMPORTANT RULE): Once the winner has placed his seal, each player chooses ONE card from the opponent’s pile and discards it. The remaining cards are taken back into hand. (Note that remaining negative High Office cards which you played onto an opponent’s pile now belong to that pile, so he gets to pick them up to his hand!!) Every power struggle ends with this procedure, regardless of whether a player conceded it or not.

If two or more opposing players protested, the power struggle is still carried out as above. You may play negative High Office cards on any of the opposing players. With equal points, the winner is the player who claimed the office. If two or more protesting players have the same number of (high) points, the winner is the one who protested first. After the power struggle, you discard one card from the pile of the opponent on your right, and then remaining cards are as above taken back into hand.

Power Struggle 2: Challenging an Incumbent

Instead of claiming a vacant office, you may on your turn challenge a player who already occupies an office. In this case, you say: ”I challenge you for the alderman’s office” (or whichever). A power struggle exactly as per above then results, but only between you and the defending player (the incumbent).

As the challenger, you get to play the first card. The defending player may if he wishes immediately admit defeat after your first card, without playing any card of his own. He or she then loses the office to you, but does not lose any card from hand. You the challenger however will in this case automatically lose your first card, which is discarded!

Note that incumbents may ”die” during the game, making the office vacant again so that it may be claimed anew. No player may occupy more than three offices at the same time.

Paying with the Money Cards

As soon as you perform an action for which you must pay with dalers (playing Improvement cards etc), you must immediately pay at least as many dalers as stated. If you cannot pay the exact amount but instead must pay with a higher daler card, or two or more whose sum exceed the stated amount, you do not get any ”change” back!

All daler cards used for payment are discarded out of the game.

Discarded Cards

Any and all discarded cards are out of the game, and are placed face down on the graveyard (= Kyrkogård) on the extra gameboard.

If the Money pile or the Event pile runs out, that’s it – there is NO new draw pile.

The picture texts in the corners of pages 6 and 7

Anseendeskalan = The Status Track 200-dalerkort = 200 dalers card

400-dalerkort = 400 dalers card 100-dalerkort = 100 dalers card

300-dalerkort = 300 dalers card Kyrkogård = Graveyard

The End of the Game

The game is over when the event marker winds up on the last Development card and all players have had their final turn. (If the card ”Pestilence” (= Pest) at that moment lies on a city district, that card is removed and the player controlling that district loses one Status Point; his crest is moved down one step on the Status Track.) Then, all player’s receive additional SP’s as follows:

For each office currently being held: 2 SP’s.

For each city district in one’s control: 1 SP, plus one less than the number of symbols in the longest unbroken line of symbols on the Improvement cards on that district. Example: If the longest unbroken line on one of your city districts consists of 4 coin symbols in a row, you are awarded 3 SP’s (plus 1 SP for the district itself).

Important rule: If the longest unbroken line consists of cross symbols, you get double the number of SP’s! (It really must be the longest, not of equal length with another line.)

Per each full amount of 500 dalers: 1 SP. (0-400 dalers count as nothing, 500-900 as 1 SP, 1000-1400 as 2 SP and so on.)

And the Winner is...

...the player whose crest, after the above handing out of Status Points, is highest on the Status Track. That player receives the card with the Key to the City, to a smattering of applause from the others.

Should two or more players be equally high in status, the winner is the one with the most influence over the city council, ie. occupies the mayoral office.

Should none of these contesting players hold that office, the winner is instead the one occupying the bishopric; after that instead the Master of the Guild; and finally the office of Alderman. Failing even that (unlikely!), the player who precedes the other in turn order is the winner.

Picture in lower righthand corner of page 8

Example of the summing up of SP’s for the city districts: In one of his districts Örnehufvud had established a livery stable, a merchant house and a church, before Klingensporre sabotaged it by putting the poor-house there as well. The longest unbroken line here consists of tre crown symbols, giving Örnehufvud 3-1=2 Status Points, plus the 1 SP for the district itself; a total of 3 AP for that city district.

The Game Cabinet - - Ken Tidwell