Citadels is a tidy little card game in a small blue box. When you have a lot of games, and when you want something to take round a friend’s house or to the pub, these things are important!
It’s also fun to play, this being the other important thing in a game.
The players are noblemen (and/or women) competing with each other to build the best citadel. This can only be achieved with lots of gold and the help of powerful characters such as the Thief, the Merchant and even the King.
Each round players secretly choose a character to aid them from a deck of cards. Each character has very different skills and abilities. The Bishop will earn you more gold if you favour the Church, while the Warlord will destroy buildings in your opponents’ citadels, for a price.
Most intringuing are the Assassin and Thief. These characters kill or steal from others, but only if the player correctly guesses the character selection made by others.
With the help of their selected character’s special skills, players take it in turns to earn gold and raise buildings. The characters are then returned to the deck and a new round of selection and building starts. Once a sufficiently grand citadel is complete, 30 to 60 minutes later, the players count up the value of their buildings to find the winner.
This is an easy game to pick up and to teach. The important rules are all in the skills of each character, which are written on the individual character cards. Simply playing through a round of the game is enough to teach newcomers all they need to know. Yet the wide variety of skills available to the eight (or nine with more players) characters opens up many interesting strategies. Games are also short, so if the odds are not in your favour, there’s always the chance for another game to reverse your fortunes.
If there is a weakness in the game, the process of selecting characters can drag. The game comes to a grinding halt as each player peruses the deck of available characters when choosing their assistant for that round. Newcomers unfamiliar with the different skills or oldtimers considering all the options can take a long time to come to a decision. Introducing a “10 second rule” may be a wise move to keep up the pace and shave 20 minutes off the playing time.
Quick and fun to play, with varied strategies to contemplate, Citadels is a game well worth seeking out.