- 3 Clue area tiles ( green, yellow, red)
- 84 illustrated cards
- 1 Screen and its base
- 9 Clue tokens
- 1 app, downloadable
- 1 Bonus token
- Turn tracker and its token
Object of the Game
The Key is missing and only you can recover it!
One Key is a cooperative game, in which one player is the Leader and must help their team to find the Key which is hidden among the Exploration cards. Each turn, the Leader sorts Clue cards by the strength of their link with the Key.
In return, the rest of the team (the Travelers) must remove Exploration cards that they think are not matching, within a limited time. But be careful with the Key: if you remove it, everybody loses!
If the Key is the last Exploration card remaining at the end of the last turn, the whole team wins!
One Key is played with a free mobile app that helps the players progress through the game. It also counts down the time remaining every turn.
Pick a player to be the Leader. They sit behind the screen. The other players are the Travelers.
Set the Clue Area tiles and the screen.
Place the Clue tokens facedown in the Leader's area.
Place the device with the app between the Leader's area and the Travelers.
Set the turn tracker token on the k 5 first space of the track.
The Leader randomly draws 11 cards. The Leader randomly picks one of these cards without showing it nor giving any sort of information about it to the rest of the team: this card is the Key the Travelers are tasked with finding.
The Leader starts the One Key app, presses the button and secretly enters the number printed on the back of the Key in the dedicated field on the app.
All 11 cards drawn (including the Key) are then shuffled and placed faceup in the Sorting area. These are the Exploration cards.
Shuffle all the remaining cards to create the Clue cards draw pile and place them facedown near the Leader.
Important: The cards placed on the screen and in the Clue area are called Clue cards. Those that are placed in he sorting area are called Exploration cards.
Playing without the app
We recommend playing One Key with its app to experience the game at its best. However, you can play it without the app.
If you prefer to play without the app, all you need is a piece of paper to keep track of the number at the back of the Key that the Travelers need to find. Follow the rules as usual, ignoring every mention of the app.
When the game ends, just reveal the piece of paper with the number on it to check if the team won instead of revealing it on the app. You can also play with a three-minute timer.
A game of One Key is played in 4 turns, with each turn consisting of the following steps:
Players play the 2A and 2B phases simultaneously within three minutes.
They all lose the game if they remove the Key during a turn or if they fail to finish a turn before the end of the countdown.
If the Key is not removed, they all win the game at the end of the 4th and last turn, with only one card remaining in the Sorting area: the Key.
Throughout these rules, the icon signals that you have to interact with the One Key app to continue.
Similarly, the icon signals that this phase is played within the three-minute timer of the One Keyapp. All these phases are played simultaneously.
Warning: during the game, the Leader must not communicate with the Travelers except at the end of each turn to inform the team of the outcome of their actions.
1. Clue Cards Reveal
The Leader starts the turn on the app. Then they do the following, depending on the current turn:
The Leader draws the first card of the Clue cards draw pile, evaluates it (see page 7) and places it in the Clue area that they see fit.
Note: during the 1st turn, the evaluated card is placed in the matching Clue area rather than on the screen base. No Clue token is placed.
You can then go directly to 2A on the next page to continue.
Turn 2, 3 And 4:
The Leader turns the screen toward the Travelers to reveal the 3 Clue cards prepared during the Leader's action step of the previous turn.
The Travelers discuss the Clue card they want, and pick it by majority. If they can't achieve majority, the player sitting to the left of the Leader settles the choice. The Clue token associated to the designated card is then revealed.
The Travelers take the card (or cards if they used the bonus token) they picked. Each card chosen is then placed in the Clue area, behind the tile with the color that matches the Clue token it was associated with it (green, yellow or red).
Once per game, the Travelers can use the bonus token to pick a second Clue card. If they do, the bonus token is put back in the game box. It can't be used again this game.
Warning: if the Travelers decide to use the bonus token, they must indicate both clue cards they want to see before revealing the associated tokens.
2A. Travelers' actions - Card sorting and removal
While the Leader prepares the Clue cards for the next turn during their action step, the Travelers try to deduce information on the Key.
To do that, they base their deductions on the way the Clue cards revealed throughout the game are organized in the 3 parts of the Clue area (green, yellow or red). They can reorganize Exploration cards in the Sorting area to match their deductions.
Under the green tile, they place Exploration cards that they think have a strong link with the Key.
Under the yellow tile, they place Exploration cards that they are uncertain about in relation to the Key.
Under the red tile, they place Exploration cards that they think have a weak link (or even no link at all) with the Key.
Each Traveler can organize cards among those 3 zones. This step has no impact on the rest of the game, as cards can be organized freely throughout the game.
Once they have organized the Exploration cards as they see fit, the Travelers must remove as many of them as written on the Turn-tracker, before the end of the countdown:
Warning: there should only be one remaining card at the end of the 4th turn.
The Travelers agree on the card or cards that they don't believe to be the Key and place them all at once in the discard area of the turn-tracker, near the Leader. If a majority of players cannot agree on the cards to remove, the player sitting to the left of the Leader settles the choice.
Once the Travelers have removed the cards for the turn, one of them presses the button on the Travelers' side of the app.
Organizing Exploration Cards
In this example, the first Clue card has just been placed in the Clue area above the red tile. This means that the Leader believes that it has no link (or a really weak one) to the Key.
The Travelers discuss and move the Exploration cards in the Sorting area based on the strength of the link they believe exists between the Exploration cards and the Clue card.
Green zone: strong link with green Clue cards, or weak link with red Clue cards.
Red zone: strong link with red Clue cards, or weak link with green Clue cards.
Yellow zone: uncertain link with green or red Clue cards.
2B. Leader's actions - Clue token selection
While the Travelers sort and remove Exploration cards, the Leader does the 3 following actions except during the first turn:
They turn the screen towards themselves..
They take back all the Clue tokens.
They place every Clue card left on the screen base in the game box.
Then they take the first 3 cards of the top of the Clue cards draw pile and place them on the screen base. Only they can see them for now. Then they evaluate every card drawn.
When the Leader finished preparing the Clue cards, they press the button on their side of the app.
Evaluating a card
The Leader evaluates a card by gauging (from their perspective) the strength of its link to the Key. They then choose a Clue token of the color which best matches the strength of the link between, the card and the Key.
Tokens are always placed facedown on the screen base: If they think that between the card and the key is a:
- If they think there is a strong link between the card and the Key, they place a green token .
- If they think there is a slight or subtle link between the card and the Key,
they place a yellow token .
- If they think there is a weak link or no link at all between the card and the Key,
they place a red token .
Warning: the Leader can use as many Clue tokens of the same color as they have. For example, they can use 3 green tokens on the screen base if they think that every card has a strong link with the Key.
Example: In this example, Alex is the Leader. This is the Key the Travelers must find with his help:
Alex draws 3 Clue cards and places them on the screen base. He must now evaluate them.
Alex gauges that music is a core theme of both this card and the Key. This is a strong link between the 2 cards. He chooses to match it with a green token.
Alex reckons that the dwarf and the drummer are pictured in very similar postures. However, this is not the main theme of this card. He therefore considers the link as slight. He chooses to match it with a yellow token.
Alex doesn't see any link between this card and the Key. Even if the watering can is made of metal just like the alarm clock, it is a side concept of the card. He chooses to match it with a red token.
3. End of turn
The turn ends when the Leader and the Travelers have pressed both buttons on the app (see below) or if the timer set for the turn runs out (visually clued by the total disappearance of the Key on the app and signaled by a specific sound).
If the players didn't finish their actions before the end of the timer, the Key is lost! All players lose the game.
If the players finished their actions in time, the app displays the transition phase. If the Travelers removed the Key, the Leader presses the button. All players lose the game.
Otherwise, the Leader moves the turn-tracker token one space forward on the track. The next turn begins after 20 seconds, or by pressing the button.
If the players haven't removed the Key by the end of turn 4, they find it! The Leader presses the button to display the Key. All players win the game.
The One Key App
We recommend playing One Key with its free app, provided separately (see page 2). The app keeps track of the players' progress throughout the game and serves as a timer for the second phase of the turn.
It also retains the number of the card randomly picked to be the Key and reveals it at the end of the game.
Main menu: press the button to start the game.
Start of the game: the Leader enters the number written on the back of the card they have drawn to be the Key.
Then they press the button to begin the first turn.
Ongoing turn: the app is placed between the Leader and the Travelers. It is divided into 2 zones.
The button at the center of the screen is used to stop the timer if needed. Each zone of the app must be pressed to progress to the next turn when the players have finished their actions.
Transition : short transition between 2 turns. If the players have removed the Key, press the button.
The button can be pressed to get to the next turn before the end of the timer of this phase (20 seconds).