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Puzzle board game Block and Key uses perspective to unlock the mysteries of a forgotten temple

Crofty thinking.

Solve the riddles of an overgrown jungle ruin by placing an ever-changing tableau of cubic structures in Block and Key, a new puzzle title from publisher Inside Up Games now on Kickstarter.

In Block and Key, one to four players take turns adding clay blocks to the gridded floor of the temple in an attempt to recreate the two-dimensional outlines on their respective cards. Managing to match patterns nets points, and more intricate designs increase the potential award. Beware: each player will have a chance to disrupt a developing solution with their own placement.

Cover image for YouTube videoBlock and Key - How to play

The dexterity game begins by constructing the ruins, which consists of two raised platforms - blocks are placed on the upper level and drawn from the lower when a player needs to refill their hand. Each turn allows one block to be placed or three to be drawn, so accumulation won’t get too rowdy if a player decides to restock.

A single two-by-two cube placed in the center of the upper ring acts as the keystone, requiring all subsequent construction build from its core. This is where Block and Key reveals its strength: while the game board provides a full view of the ruins, each player can only match key cards and score points by referencing a single flat plane. That view, and the unique building rules, remains tied to individual players throughout the game, putting everyone in tension as they construct an increasingly complex structure pulled in two, three, or four different directions.

Once a player can match the coloured pattern on a key card, they place it face up and draw a new one, revealing ever more convoluted designs to create. And with several cards always in hand, Block and Key encourages scheming in more than one direction just in case someone else places a thoughtless obstruction.

Hidden enigma cards are revealed at the end of the game, providing a last-ditch method of securing victory points once all blocks have been placed. The player with the most is declared the winner of the game, which designer David Arie says averages 40 minutes. Block and Key supports a solo game option, as well, using extra information illustrated into the deck of cards to determine how the AI-controlled Ancients play against the lone ruins delver.

Inside up Games also publishes the competitive survival mountain climbing simulator Summit: The Board Game and and Gorus Maximus, a trick-taking game themed after a gladiatorial arena.

The Kickstarter Campaign for Block and Key will run through March 10th, with backers able to pick up a copy for CA$54 ($43/£31). Shipping is expected to begin in September of this year.

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Chase Carter avatar

Chase Carter


Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.