Need a Great Game for Your Next Gathering? Try Citadels

Another winner from Fantasy Flight.

I'm probably a bit of a Fantasy Flight fanboy. Their Battlestar Galactica game is one of my favorites, Cosmic Encounters is a solid game that often shows up in our board game nights, Arkham Horror is the best game I've never finished. So when my boyfriend and I were looking for a game that played well with two players (or more) we jumped at the chance to buy Citadels.

Citadels is a 2-8 player game originally released in 2000. Newer copies of the game, like the one I played, feature the expansion Citadels: the Dark City which allows the game to be playable up to 8 players and features additional characters, etc. The suggested amount of players is around 5, but the game is playable above and below that number.  Play takes between 30-60 minutes depending on the competitiveness and speed of your participants. 

Theme

Citadels is thematically similar to a Euro game, in that it covers a topic that might seem at first boring. You are trying to build a medieval city. 

Each round you play as a different character, selected at the beginning of the round. Each character has a unique trait, and they encompass the full range of the social spectrum from the King, to the Bishop, to the lowly street thief or assassin. Together they create a living city. 

Mechanics

The game is relatively simple to learn, and could easily function for beginners or families. The start of a round has the character deck shuffled by the king who then lays down two cards from that deck face up, and one face down. From the rest of the cards, the king will select the character he will play as in that round, puts the card face down next to himself, and then passes the deck to the right.  

This system allows for a certain level of anonymity and randomness. By removing three cards from play every round, you can almost guarantee a shake up in roles. The anonymity is increased by the fact that the character selection remains secret, outside of your own personal skills of deduction, until the character is revealed. 

After character selection, the king goes numerically through the list of possible characters. As your character number is revealed, you can begin your turn. The Assassin and Thief are the first characters to play, as their abilities depend on not knowing the other characters in the game. (The Assassin can kill another character, but he must make his selection based off of the character, not the player, name. The Thief can steal, but his rules for selection are the same as the Assassin.) 

Play can progress really quickly, especially when everyone understands the mechanic. This also means that it is easy for players to discuss topics unrelated the game, making it a good game for social meetings. 

Overall

The game is solidly built, and incredibly attractive. With few pieces, it's an easy game to travel with, and to bring to a social get-together. When I played, I was with two people who had played several board games before, and one member of the group was a relative newbie, and everyone was evenly matched. 

The game requires little set up, and scoring is a breeze. The game also lends itself well to bluffing and secrecy. 

Overall, this would be an excellent addition to anyones growing board game collection. 

Our Rating
9
Another winner from Fantasy Flight.

Former Staff Editor

Former rugby player, social media person, and occasional writer.

Published Sep. 23rd 2013
  • IamthePisani
    The greatest description of an Euro game: Citadels is thematically similar to a Euro game, in that it covers a topic that might seem at first boring. You are trying to build a medieval city.

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