The Key: Sabotage at Lucky Llama Land
Oh no! Someone has sabotaged the attractions at
Lucky Llama Land!
We know what was damaged and which days the sabotage took place, but we have three suspects, three tools, and no way to match everything up.
Using witness statements and lab results, can you solve the case?
The Key: Sabotage at Lucky Llama Land is a deduction game designed by Thomas Sing and published by HABA. It’s best for ages 8+, and can be played with up to 4 players.
How to Play
Start by giving each player a folding “briefcase screen”, a file, and a dry-erase marker. Shuffle all the cards and spread them around the center of the table with color codes visible, so every player can reach some cards.
Pick one of the nine wooden keys and set it where everyone can see it. This is the color of the case you’re playing.
There are no turns in The Key. All players are looking for information simultaneously to solve the case.
Choose one card at a time that has the case color on it. Flip the card and examine the clues.
There are four types of cards: witness statements, footprints, show tickets, and snapshots. Each card will have a point value and two icons indicating what aspects of the case they’re about: suspect, day of crime, tool/weapon, and location.
Use these clues to mark off options on the investigation board inside your screen. Each clue card you examine must stay in your “briefcase” to track your points.
Solving the Case
When you’ve narrowed down the options on your investigation board to exactly one person, tool, and attraction on each day, you’re ready to close the case.
Grab the key if you’re the first to finish. Then use the left side of your briefcase screen to generate a number code from your answers.
When all players have finished, it’s time to test the code and see if you can put the perpetrators behind bars!
Find your number code on the solution board, and stick the key through the hole. Check the other side of the board – is your key in a matching-colored lock? Then you’ve solved the case correctly! If not, you made a mistake somewhere in your investigations.
Who’s the top investigator? If more than one player got the correct answer, you’ll need to calculate scores. Add up the points on all your clue cards (if you finished first and grabbed the key, subtract your lowest card’s value). Whoever has the lowest point total has solved the case the most efficiently.
Unhappy with your score? Set up with a different key and play again!
Andrew and I love logic puzzles and deduction, so for us, The Key series is a perfect fit.
Our kids are less excited about deduction games. But this one hooked them right away! There were a few speedbumps, however. As Claire (12) told us, “it’s a little tricky.”
Some of the clues are tough to decipher; footprint clues and photo clues sometimes hide the solution too well. It was also tough for our younger kids, in their excitement, to remember to check the front of a card to make sure it matched the color of the case. That’s a really easy way to end up with an incorrect solution!
After our first play, we tried again in teams, showing our kids how to use the clues to reason your way to a final answer. I think I enjoyed playing more when I was explaining to a kid on my team.
It’s a lot of fun and it works well in teams.Claire
The Thrill of the Chase
Even though The Key is played in real-time, don’t think of it as a race. The reward for being first is small, so be deliberate in your choices instead of grabbing cards quickly. As you narrow down your options, the icons at the top of each card can help you decipher whether or not a particular clue will be helpful to you.
Since the clues come in many different styles, everyone will have a type of clue they prefer. But deciphering a particularly difficult “lab result” can feel incredibly rewarding, once you figure it out.
Play Again and Again
The Key: Sabotage at Lucky Llama Land feels a lot like a logic grid puzzle. As you work to gather your clues, you’ll know you’re getting closer and closer until you find the key (hah) piece of information that makes everything else snap into place.
I expected to get a limited number of plays from Sabotage at Lucky Llama Land, but the clever structure of the cards and color coding makes it almost infinitely replayable. It will only feel repetitive if you have an excellent memory for the solutions.
Why The Key: Sabotage at Lucky Llama Land?
The Key: Sabotage in Lucky Llama Land is one of the easiest games in The Key series. The Key: Murder at the Oakdale Club is available now in limited quantities, and The Key: Theft at Cliffrock Villa is coming in late Summer 2021.
Even so, The Key: Sabotage at Lucky Llama Land is far more complex than deduction games like Outfoxed, Concluzio, and Dinosaur Tea Party. If your family is ready to move up to something more challenging but without a lot of direct competition, this is a fantastic choice.
Likewise, if you’re intrigued by Chronicles of Crime but want something kid-friendly, this is a crime (a whole series of crimes!) that your kids can solve. It’s faster-moving than Clever Kids Mysteries or any typical escape room in-a-box – and you’ll be able to solve a new case every time. The Key also provides an excellent opportunity to teach deduction to your family – something that isn’t always easy to do.
Find The Key: Sabotage at Lucky Llama Land on Amazon, or ask for it at your local game store.
The Family Gamers received a copy of The Key: Sabotage at Lucky Llama Land from HABA for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
The Key: Sabotage at Lucky Llama Land
Age Range: 8-99
Number of Players: 1-4
Playtime: 20 minutes