SNAP Review – The Key: Theft at Cliffrock Villa

The Key: Theft at Cliffrock Villa screenshot

There’s been a theft at Cliffrock Villa! – Well, 3 thefts, actually. We need the help of detectives who are good at logical deduction to solve this case!


This is a SNAP review for The Key: Theft at (or in) Cliffrock Villa, designed by Thomas Sing and published by HABA. Like every game in The Key series, it’s appropriate for 1-4 players ages 8 and up and each puzzle takes about 15 minutes to play.

The rules for Theft at Cliffrock Villa tell us that there are 3 suspects in custody, but you have to figure out what each person stole, when they stole it, and how they planned to escape.


We reviewed a previous entry in The Key series on our website. Find the link to our review of Sabotage at Lucky Llama Land below. The mechanics here are very similar.

Start by choosing one of the 9 wooden keys and set it where everyone can see it. The color of that key represents the case that everyone will be trying to solve.

Make sure each player has a “briefcase” to record their guesses, an “investigation file” to help decipher clues, and a dry erase marker.

Spread out all the clue cards, face down, so that everyone can reach them. Make a mess with them – a controlled mess.

Everyone will play simultaneously, grabbing clue cards and deciphering them.

How do the clue cards work?

First, make sure the card you’re grabbing has a color swatch that matches the case color!

In addition to the colors, each card back also shows a point value (2, 3, or 4) — points are bad in this game, a type (Witness, Fingerprint, Found Object, or Surveillance Camera), and the aspects of the case it applies to (1st 2nd or 3rd theft, perpetrator, time of the crime, stolen item, and getaway).

Once you’ve selected a card, flip it over and take a look… no matter what kind of clue it is, it should tie together two aspects of a crime, allowing you to eliminate possibilities on your briefcase matrix.

(For example: This clue says that the crown was stolen before the mask. So the crown can’t be part of the last theft, and the mask can’t be the first one!)

If you think you have gathered enough clues to determine the thief, stolen item, and getaway for all 3 crimes, grab the wooden key! … and wait for your fellow detectives to finish.

Use the left side of your briefcase screen to generate a 3-digit number code representing your solution.

When everyone is done, the detective with the key may be the first to test their solution. Look for the number on the solution board that matches your number code, and put the key in the hole.

Then check the other side of the solution board – is your key in a matching color lock? Congratulations, you’ve solved the case! Otherwise, hand the key and solution board over to any other player who has a different code to test.

If multiple investigators came up with the correct code, you’ll need to calculate scores. Add together the point values from all the clue cards you used (and if you finished first, you’ll get to subtract a few points). Whoever got the right answer and has the lowest score is the best detective, and will get a promotion! All other detectives who contributed to the arrest also deserve praise, however.

You can also play solo, with no time pressure. Once you think you’ve found the answer to a particular color case, check it on the solution board, then check your score against the table in the rules, to find out if you’re barely competent or on a par with Sherlock Holmes.


We love logical deduction games, and filling in the matrix of who-what-when-how is very satisfying.

We expected more of the same from Theft at Cliffrock Villa, with a new theme and some new types of clues to decipher.

But every game has surprises…


[Anitra] I liked Theft at Cliffrock Villa more than Sabotage at Lucky Llama Land. The clues felt slightly more believable (items left behind, witness statements regarding height & outfits, and fingerprints), but I thought the ‘security camera’ clues tended to be VERY difficult.

[Andrew] I disagree … I thought the security camera clues were actually pretty thematic. You certainly need to look carefully at them, but most of the time you could figure something out. Have you ever seen security footage?


The Key: Theft at Cliffrock Villa is family-friendly in theme and in execution. If your kids haven’t done much logical deduction before, they may be frustrated; I’d recommend having them play ‘on a team’ or walk them through the solo mode.

Our middle child loves board games and learns them quickly, but he moves too fast, and he makes deduction mistakes when playing this. It’s frustrating, but a good teaching experience, too.

It’s a great next step if your family has enjoyed other deduction games like Outfoxed, Clue, or even HABA’s Cloaked Cats.

We give this game 4 and a half keys.. out of 5.

And that’s The Key: Theft at Cliffrock Villa, in a SNAP!

Find it on Amazon or direct from HABA.

Keys from The Key: Theft at Cliffrock Villa

The Family Gamers received The Key: Theft at Cliffrock Villa from HABA for this review.

This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.

SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?

The Key: Theft at Cliffrock Villa
  • Keys


Number of Players: 1-4

Age Range: 8 and up

Playtime: about 15 minutes