English language edition of Ohne Furcht und Adel; includes Dark City expansion
List Price: $24.95
Your Price: $19.99
(Worth 1,999 Funagain Points!)
from 59 customer reviews
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NOTE: This edition of Citadels comes with the materials available in the Dark City expansion.
Citadels is the award winning game by Bruno Faidutti in which players are attempting to complete their city first. Each turn, players choose a secret role from eight choices: bishop, thief, king, etc. Each role has a special ability and allows the player to attempt a different strategy. Players must always beware of the deadly assassin, however, and players must constantly seek to double guess their opponents. Each city is made up of different districts, some of which also provide special abilities to the players. When combined, the game is an interesting bluffing and tactical game. This card game provides a ton of enjoyment and can handle up to seven players!
Fantasy Flight Games
Players: 2 - 7
Time: 20 - 60 minutes
Ages: 10 and up
Weight: 302 grams
Current Sales Rank: #93
All-Time Sales Rank: #11
Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are printed in English. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English.
Average Rating: 4.2 in 59 reviews
I'm very impressed with this game. The system of selecting characters, which also dictates turn order, is pure genius. This is my favorite new game. Each time we've played it, we've had had a blast. It is so well balanced with a lot of player interaction. And nobody ever seems to run away with the lead. They have all been very tight games. If you enjoy clever strategy games then this game is a must have. It easily earns the highest rating available.
Citadels is a character selection and building game by Bruno Faidutti (Queen's Necklace and many more), every turn the group of players selects one of a pool of characters, this character will give that player a special ability. On their turn a player may collect gold or more ‘district’ cards, build a ‘district’, and/or use their character’s power.
There are typically eight characters to choose from, the regular ones being the Assassin, the Thief, the Magician, the King, the Bishop, the Merchant, the Architect, and the Warlord. Each of these characters provides a different ability, the Assassin can kill another character (good deduction and a pinch of luck are required to assassinate the character owned by a particular player), the Thief can steal gold, the Magician cards, the King can take extra money and is the first next round to select a character from the pool of eight, and so on.
The expansion that comes with Fantasy Flight’s new version of the game includes a bunch of new characters that can be exchanged with the regular ones, a bunch of new special district cards, as well as some gorgeous plastic ‘butterscotch’ appearing gold pieces and a small wooden crown marker to indicate who the King is. Citadels is a game that can be played with between 2 and 8 players (there will be 9 characters to choose from in an 8 player game), the length of the game will depend on how familiar everyone is with the process, and how many people are playing, the more people the longer the game.
The object in Citadels is to build the best and most wealthy Fantasy city (yes it does say Medieval on the box), the game ends when someone builds eight districts – although this person may not be the actual winner of the game! This game involves clever character selection, an ability to think on your feet, intelligent play, a dash of luck and a good sense of humour (especially if you get assassinated regularly!).
Check out Bruno Faidutti’s web site for tons of information about the history of the game, about the making of it, as well as many variants – including a great drinking game!
If your group has a penchant for Role Playing – an accent for the characters doesn’t go astray – nor does a large golden crown to be worn by the undisputed King! The object of playing these games is fun after all; Citadels will provide that and more!
I used to enjoy Verräter very much but Citadels goes much beyond.
I agree that when you get killed several times in a row sucks, but it can be avoided if you if you just forfeit the what would be right character choice.
Although I think the original character´s set is the best, I also like to change the bishop and the warlord for there equivalent.
In Citadels, each turn has two rounds...
Step 1. Secretly choose a role to play (King, Assasin, Theif, Merchant, Architect, etc.), which gives you certain abilities. This changes each turn -- you might be the assassin this turn, and choose to be king the next!
Step 2. Try to build a city! The role you chose in step 1 tells the order which characters will play, and what (if any) special abilities you may have. Some roles allow you to kill or steal from another player, some allow you to get more gold for certain buildings, and some allow you to build more buildings to complete your city.
The combination of the two-steps allows for some interesting strategy, and a different game play every time. AND, it forces you to change startegies throughout -- if you ALWAYS choose to be the Merchant, others will figure that out and either assasinate you or steal all your money.
In a few rounds you'll get the swing of things; you'll learn the intricacies of the game quickly. You have limited resources, so you'll have to budget wisely, but also build quickly in order to complete your city first.
The addition of complete set of different characters adds to the variety of play... it's fun to experiment with different combinations of characters to see which ones work best.
The art on the cards is beautiful... the characters and buildings are dramatic and appealing.
The only problem I found is that the character cards used in step 1 tend to get grubby quickly (especially if everyone is sitting around snacking as you play! Greasy fingers = greasy cards). I bought some plastic card protectors just for them --- problem solved.
It is a great game for 4-7 people (the 2 and 3 player versions I found much less dynamic... but still fun).
I work with 7th/8th graders and love playing games with them. I bought this because it looked cool but I thought it might be too complicated. I was wrong. Everyone loves this game, including students who really struggle academically. It is extremely fun for all ages and surprisingly easy to learn. The gameplay is very cool -- deciding which character to play to a real challenge. This game is perfect for 6-8 players. I am so happy with this game. Cards are well-illustrated and you can easily adapt the game for fewer players. Probably the best game I've bought -- much better than Carcasonne which is not bad either.
Citadels is a great game; the previous 2-star reviewer does not understand the rules of the game when he says that 'one person can remain King the entire game [which makes the] game pretty boring for those sitting to the right of the King.'
Yes, one can choose to always be the king, but the thief and assassin always take their turns before the king does. This means that the king can often be at a disadvantage (robbed or killed), especially if others figure out that the same player is the king every turn, which would be very apparent.
Citadels is a cleverly balanced game, where each player must carefully choose roles each turn. The king is just one of several roles, and each gives a different advantage to play. I do not recommend this game unless there are at least 5 players--4 or less diminishes the intrigue.
Our group usually does not play card-format games, preferring board games like Roborally, Starfarers of Catan or Dune.
However, recently one of our regular games was finished early, we had a couple of hours to spare, and wanted to try something new, which turned out to be this game.
It was an instant hit, and since then it has been regularly chosen as one of the games to play.
The game is simple to learn, but so many different strategies are possible that it takes a long time to explore them all. The replay value is high, and gets even better when you replace some of the cards with the optional ones.
The balance of the game is just about perfect - I highly recommend this game to anyone wanting a fun, well-designed strategy game, even if they do not like card-format games in general.
I started playing this game about one week ago, and I love it! It's also quite easy to learn, it took about 30 minutes. When you get bored just add some of the expansion cards and it's fun to play again :) I don't really know what more to add except: GO BUY THIS GAME NOW!!
This game is excellent for a large group of players. The fewer the players the less reliable the card interaction becomes. I would not play this game with less then 5 players. There are games that have much better playability with less than 5 players. With that said I have taken groups that have never played the game before and were seconds away from sleep and doing a momentary face plant in a bowl of potato chip dip, too considering an hour and a half later playing a second game that would not end until 1:00 am. Get this game for the big groups let it grow dust for the smaller gatherings highly recommended.
When my friends gived it to me i was a little deceived... until I played it. I like a lot this game. It is a great exercise of paranoia. It's value is greater than his cost. Try it!! And be careful in your choices when playing, death and powerty await in each corner...
Citadels is a very entertaining, fast-paced game. It's a special games since it plays well with two players up through eight.
If you play the game with a group of people you know well, it adds a mental guessing game because you can anticipate their actions as well as trying not to be too predictable yourself.
Citadels is really great in that it's easy to learn the general gameplay, but very difficult to master, which is a sign of a true masterpiece.
The game involves Strategy, Bluffing, guessing and lots of social interaction.
It's a must have!
Citadels is really entertaining and one of those games that is simple to learn but hard to master, which in my opinion makes a great game. Now I can play the game with my gamer friends and also my family and they all seem to enjoy the game.
I didnt actually know that the game included extra characters with different special abilities.
The expansion characters adds a variation to our games that really makes it unpredictable even when playing with the same people time after time. This great replay value is just one of the reasons I wouldnt hesitate to recommend this game highly. So far I havent been disappointed with these smaller boardgames from Fantasy Flight (I already own Kingdoms and have played Drakon)
Citidels is a very clever, well thought out game. I agree that the more people you have to play the better, but a 3 player game can still be fun. Takes a game or 2 to figure things out, but after you get the hang of it, youll love it. The characters are brilliant, and the art work is amazing. Great game, always something different. If you like fantasy games, youll love this one. Never boring, always exciting. you wont regret buying this game!!!!!
This game rocks!
Having first taught it to 3 other memebers of the Saturday group, we started a 7 player game at 10:30 P.M. and finished after 1 in the morning, but the concensus is that this is the best game for a larger group of people. When you average around 6 per group, break this one out. Since everyone else has gone through the mechanics, I won't touch on them. The fun thing is watching the faces of everyone as the role is called. We've had several games where the Magician has gotten tagged by the Assassin during the middle portion of the game and the guy who keeps drawing it keeps squealing like a pig when it happens. There's a trend to take out the Merchant and the Architect early, the Merchant during the middle game, and the Warlord later. Part of me thinks the Architect may be back in good graces soon the way the Merchant gets tagged so often, but I can still make a case for the Bishop when someone has three blue districts in front of them. I have won at this game, so my string of teach and lose is over (for now). I will never regret getting this one.
The politics are incredibly fun with 5 or more players, but the game (as printed) has a few issues with smaller numbers of players, especially 2.
It took one game of play to realize that the Assassin was no fun in two player games, and the proposed character selection let you guess the other player's selections with 80% accuracy. However, my wife and I quickly came up with the following character selection scheme for 2 players which adds a lot of the fun and second-guessing of larger games into a 2 player game:
Of the 8 character cards, set aside one face down.
Split the cards into a pile of 4 and a pile of 3.
The player who is king picks 2 characters from the pile of 4 and the other player picks 2 characters from the pile of 3.
The other change was to never play the Assassin in small games (where missing an entire turn can be devastating). Instead, use the Witch.
So two-player games become a really intruiging strategic decision process. If you think they might pick the Witch, you might want to avoid picking the best card in your stack and hope the witch causes them to lose half or turn. Or you may have the witch and expect them to play around the chance of you taking the witch, so you could take the Architect instead, gain some serious card drawing and let them get stuck with substandard character choices.
We were pleasantly surprised with the increased strategy in the game after these two tweaks.
The extra expansion set companions also add a lot to the game. All of them are excellent in larger games, and most of them are useful in smaller games (2 to 4). The only characters which are not recommended for small games are:
- Assassin (losing a turn causes too much tempo loss)
- Tax Collector (ability won't come into play enough)
- Emperor (not enough players to make a strategic decision)
- Abbot (ability won't come into play enough)
- Queen (too powerful in small games)
Small games and large games have different strategic challenges and are interesting in different ways, but they are both a lot of fun to play. No matter how many players you have, get this game immediately.
The only flaw was the poor quality of the cards. I recommend buying two different color card sleeves (used in collectable card games) and sleeving the districts in one color (about 100 sleeves) and the characters in another color (18 sleeves). It will keep your cards in good shape for years of play, makes shuffling easier, and saves you time if you accidently mix the characters into the district deck.
Although the box claims that Citadels is for 2 to 7 players, it plays best with four to eight (for eight, you've got to add in an expansion card). With two players, all strategy is thrown out the window as you each play as multiple characters in a game where guessing the opponents' characters is a big part of the gameplay. Furthermore, since each player gets multiple characters and certain characters cancel out others' abilities, it's far too easy to set up invulnerable pairs (Assassin and Warlord/Bishop, for example). With three players, the game plays a little better since some guesswork is required and blocking is more difficult, but players still must take on multiple roles. At four players, the fun begins, but five to seven seems to be this game's sweet zone. Once you've assembled a group that large that's willing to spend a few minutes learning the relatively simple rules of the game, you're in for a great time. =)
After trying and enjoying the German version a while back I decided to get this English version. I have now played Citadels with everything from 2 player to 6 players and I can strongly recommend the game! I really enjoy the different moments in the game. Whether it may be the bluffing and stealing/assassinating or the desperate warlords destruction of districts.
The game is fun and two games are never the same and even my girlfriend and her family likes the game! I find it a great introduction into the world of gaming. And still challenging and exiting for gamers as well.
Citadels also brings in the expansion with extra characters, which isn't in the German version. I only played with some of the expansion characters so far and from what I've seen so far the extra characters brings in extra life to the game.
I picked up this game from Fantasy Flight Games after trying another of thier other games in the same format: Kingdoms, which I really loved.
So I played it with two friends and we absolutely love it! We played it about 5 times the first night and then tried some of the expansion characters, which added a new edge to the game.
And since no game is the same there is really good replay value.
I have since played the game with two player and up to five players and Citadels is still a hit! Even my sister liked the game.
I can strongly recommend the game!
This game is cute. This game is great. This game is a masterpiece. I have never seen so much 'game'in such a small box as it happened with this game.
The thing with this game is, it's a card game, but you aren't quite aware of that: it almost plays like a boardgame.
I think a game like this deserves to be in everybody's game-collection. The game-mechanism is extremely well-balanced but most of all very innovative. Playing a game like this makes me wonder how creative a designer can be. Ok, I haven't played many other card-games apart from the traditional cardgames, but this one surely surprised me. It offers a lot of different elements, a bit of strategy, a bit of luck, a bit of annoying other players, interactivity, the 'who-is-who' factor, humour, and it all works very well. I also like the design, the artwork: very atmospheric and beautifully drawn cards. Don't even mention the price. This is really a bargain.
This is a great game for kids as well. But in no way it is a childish game. It only indicates that it is appealing to a various mix of gameplayers.
If you are looking for something else but a board-game, yet want a similar impact, then I think this is the one.... Don't buy it if you only like games like Chess and Go. Buy it if you want to be entertained in a less ambitious, yet surprising way.
This is a awesome game! All ages and varietys of ppl will love it! It is a must have game! I didnt like the expansion players, though. I played with the normal characters and fell in love with it immediatly. Good price plus good game equals a must have game!
The comments below have summed up the game rather well, and I second the recommendations to use deck protectors on the cards -- especially the character cards. By the way, the artwork on the cards is excellent.
As for play, this game offers lots of strategy, and there are tough decisions to make every turn. It's not only important to select the character that opitmizes your turn, but to anticipate the characters the opponents are likely to select, and then hedge against their availability. For instance, a player who leads with 7 districts in play (needs 1 more to end the game) is likely to select the Assassin or the Bishop (if they're available) in order to neutralize the effects of Warlord, who would surely attack one of the 7 districts. Knowing this, it might be a good idea not to select the Warlord, because you'd lose a turn after the Assassin 'kills' him. But then, the Assassin might be one of the buried cards and out of play this turn, so maybe it's worth taking the Warlord on the off-chance that the leader doesn't have the Assassin. But what if the leader has the Bishop, which prohibits the Warlord's attack? What if the leader has neither the Assassin nor the Bishop, but the Architect, and can build more than one district on his turn, rendering the Warlord's destruction of a single destrcution irrelevent? Should you then take the Thief to take his gold and reduce his capacity to build? Ooooh, decisions, decisions, decisions -- [b]Citadels[/b] has loads of them each and every turn.
We've had a lot of fun with this game, and it has already become one of our group's favorites.
Quite simply, it's an incredible game.
The scheming. Oh the scheming. Always trying to figure out what your opponents are really up to and deciding whether to advance your own position, or hinder the competition.
Here's a tip: Buy a Deck Protector, especially for the personality cards. The cards, at least in this edition, lose their gloss very quickly (after 5 plays with my group) and become rather difficult to properly shuffle.
I was also dissapointed by FFG for not including in the box, a tray for the components. I've purcahsed many other games at a similar price point and they all have nice card trays.
I'm not familiar with the German version of this game, and I've only played it about 15 times, so I'm unable to properly critique the new Personality cards. Though within 5 plays we swapped out the Warlord for the Ambassador as the Warlord seemed very underpowered compared to the others.
One more thing, this game feels significantly different depending on the number of players. I am not so much a fan of the 3 player variant, but we haven't explored any of the additional Personalities beyond the Ambassador, so it may just be a matter of getting the right combination. 2 players is great fun, though it misses the interaction of a larger group. 4+ is of course the best.
Citadels is the type of game that can be enjoyed by all, even non-gamers. I have played around 20 times and no 2 games ended the same and the stratagies are different for each game, now throw in the expansion characters and the game has some of the highest replay value I have seen in a while. In our last game (5 players) 2 of the people did not want to play and half heartedly started the game just to find faults to complain about and by the 4th round of the game they were shouting and very exuberant with gaming joy! This group of gamers own a game shop and rarely if ever play the same game twice in a day let alone back to back, but we played 3 times in a row and would have played a 4th, but the wife called. So to wrap things up, you will definitely enjoy this game, and it is a great value, very fun!, cheap and serious replay ability thus earning it a 5 Star rating in my book!
First off, if you want a detailed overview of the game rules etc, go to the Ohne Furcht und Adel page as it's all there. Suffice to say the mechanic is straightforward enough to explain to non-gamers, and is made a lot more approachable now that the card text is not auf Deutsch.
Next, the people who are worried about poor quality game components can relax. The cards are nicely printed with the same good artwork as the original; I often find myself playing a card because I like the picture rather than because it gives me any tactical advantage. On a slight down side, the gold tokens are now cardboard rather than plastic, and the card backs are duller than the original OFUA.
I guess that many of you who already play OFUA are wondering whether or not to pay another $16 for the same card game. Well one good reason is that your old deck is probably falling to bits now (mental note: must buy deck protectors). The other, less compelling, reason are the new character cards.
These make no big difference to the game. They do allow a seventh player to join, which is great if you have lots of friends. Otherwise they are intended to be swapped for the original cards. For example, the Witch replaces the Assassin, the Tax Collector replaces the Thief (there's a difference?), the Explorer replaces the Architect, and so on. The new abilities roughly correspond to the old ones for each card. I haven't played with these cards many times yet, but for now they seem to be a bit more powerful than the originals, and have a slight imbalancing effect. Of course, this could just be that we are not yet used to playing with them properly. They also seem to be slightly less well designed. As an example, the Tax Collector takes one gold for each player who builds a district, and is therefore more powerful when there are more players in the game.
In summary, this has always been a great game for me, and the fact that it is now in English means that I can inflict it on more people who would have been scared off by the German text. And as for the new characters; well if you don't like them, you don't have to play them.
I first played this game at the 'spellenspektakel' a dutch gameshow. I played several games, but this was absolutly the best. I like this game the best with 3 or more players, 2 is okay but it's more fun with more. This, El Grande and Settlers is my favorite game!
I have played this game, which is called 'Machiavelli' in Dutch, a couple of times with two players.
I like the bluffing aspect in a 2-player game, predicting what your opponent is about to do and avoiding what your opponent guesses that you're going to do. I can't wait to play this game with more than 2 players.
Traditionally, game designers have been a rather anonymous lot. Who knows who designed Risk, or Candy Land, or [page scan/se=0061/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Trivial Pursuit? Can we have a show of hands? Thought so...
Happily, there is a reversal of that trend going on now, with the popularity of Euro-style games, also known as designer games. We are becmong more familiar with names like Reiner Knizia, Wolfgang Kramer, Alan Moon, Sid Sackson, and Bruno Faidutti. I am all for their new-found celebrity status. They have earned it.
Bruno is a very nice gentleman living in France who likes lighter game fare, and designs some of the more innovative games in that genre. Ohne Furcht und Adel, AKA Citadelles, is his masterpiece.
Ostensibly about the building of medieval cities, the game is really a very clever take on bluff and deduction. Borrowing the core mechanic from Verrater, Bruno has devised a very accessible game that plays in an hour and a half or so and has tough-yet-fun decisions at every turn.
Did that player take the Assassin card? Can I afford to take the Merchant card, if he did? I have several gold regions on the table, but can I afford to take the King card when that makes me an obvious target for the Thief? Decisions like this exist throughout the game.
Two thumbs up, and an apology to Bruno for not reviewing it before now!
After buying this game and having it sit on my shelf for close to a month, I was able to bring it out and play it with a group of 6 friends--most of whom probably wouldn't be considered 'gamers'.
I found that it was difficult to explain the game at first, but after jumping in and playing, everyone had a great time. It really is a simple game to understand once you get past the formidible explanation of how things work. Even with all of our kids running around the house, we stayed late and dove into a second game even though we had other games we could have played.
Both games lasted a long time, but that was mostly due to us not understanding how things worked and with breaks to take care of kids, but it left us with a feeling of 'What a great game'. In fact, I think one of the players ordered it the next day so he could play it with his family!
Overall, it made a good impression on everyone involved and opened the way for me to introduce more German games.
WOW! This is a must have in my book. I am not a big fan of Diplomacy, but I do like games that provide limited negotiation and sneakiness and overt bitch slapping (Can you say Junta?). So, you can imagine my pleasure at playing Citadels.
First, a round of applause to Hans im Gluck, as they yet again demonstrate why they are among the very best game manufacturers in the world. The card art is stunning and clever.
The game play has been well described and there is an enormous amount of interaction. Just a play note that cements my opinion of this game.
We played this game for the first time with six new players. None of us ahd played before and one of the new players was a cute girl that had never played German style games before. Said girl is promptly assassinated for her first two turns. So, she gets to watch us all play for two complete turns before even doing anything. Not a good thing, right? Well, she learns by watching and finsihes in third! AND she wants to play again! Not bad for being skipped twice on the first two turns on a game that she's never played!
So... let me just say that this game is well deserving of the [page sdj]SdJ runner up! This is a game where strategy counts, checks and balances apply and that even if you lose handily you will still be begging to play again!
This is a wonderful game that falls very well with Bruno's other recent card offerings (Democrazy, Corruption, and Castle) and is easily the best of the group. Ironically, the other three are all available in English, while the best is only available in German.
This is a game where it is good to be king, fun to be a thief, obnoxious to be the assassin and mercenary and where being an architect can be scariest of all! Great game, highly recomended!
Rather than explain the rules (the other reviewers have done a great job with that), I'll explain the kind of games I like and how I feel this game stacks up in those areas. Then you can better judge how much weight you want to give to my review in your purchasing decision.
I like strategy games with lots of player interaction, bluffing, psychological battling, and games that are just plain fun.
Further, I like a game that is fairly easy to explain, quick to set up, yet mentally stimulating. And Ohne Furcht und Adel gets a high rating in each of these areas!
There is a sense of role-playing each round; a feeling of trying to outwit the other players; and a constant guessing game (who has what?). Each of the three games we've played has been decided on the last round--most of the time with a surprise winner. We've played it with 4 players twice and 6 players once. Both were equally exciting. The six player game did take a bit longer, but part of that was due to several 'deliberate thinkers' in our group who would mull over which character card to take for several minutes before handing the cards to the next player.
Our group does not mind that aspect of the game as it gives us all a chance to talk, discuss the game, interact, etc.
The six-player game took nearly 2 hours to complete, but those two hours were better than playing two one-hour games that would not begin to measure up to the fun and feeling of 'achievement' in playing this game.
Below is a list of the elements I like in a game and how I rate OFuA in each area (1=poor; 5=excellent):
- Strategy - 4
- Mental Stimulation - 4
- Player Interaction - 5
- Bluffing & psychological battling - 5
- Fun - 5
- Ease of set-up - 5
- Ease of explanation - 4
- Feeling you get when winning - 4
- Would want to play it again immediately - 5
Ohne Furcht und Adel is a clever game about building city districts under different guises and roles to earn the most points when the game ends. Like many well designed games, it has the right balance of luck and strategy that makes it fun and interesting. At its heart, it is also a people game where you are making many decisions based on what characters you think your fellow players have chosen. This turns what could be a routine strategy game into a lot of fun. Is the Assassin trying to kill off the Merchant this round? Is that person with the big pile of gold choosing the Priest and posting a 'Rob Me' sign at his city gates? Should I take the Soldier this round to keep someone from destroying a district or should I play the Architect to pick up some valuable district cards? And most importantly, is someone getting ready to pull off something sneaky to get those last two districts built?
For those of you who collect games for aesthetic value, as well as good game play, the artwork of the buildings and the characters is extremely well done. The gold tokens that come with the game also have a nice feel to them. One minor complaint is that distinguishing the character cards from the district cards takes a little more work than was necessary. This is easily fixable with some minor procedures about where to put character cards after you've done your bit that round. All in all, this is a nice solid game for 5+ people and I highly recommend it.
Ok, I know that you will come back with settlers (apoikoi) or lotr (arhondas) but dont get me wrong, this game is still in top 5 greek translated games so far and maybe you don't even know that it has been printed in Greek... -never mind,now you know ;)
Do you like role play in games? do you like bluffing? do you like quick rules but enough strategy? do you like to make friends and foes in a game? do you want to make your 8 yrs kids boardgamegeeks like you? Well, if your answer to all of these questions is "yes" then grab a copy asap. A place in your games gripsack will be occupied with Citadels for a long time...
Citadels is a fun variant of a simple empire building game where you try to score points by building different structures and different combinations of structures that enable more points and abilities throughout the game. A very common theme in games but the twist comes with the characters that are involved in the game and are chosen at the beginning of each turn. Each one has a plus and a downside. For example the assassin can eliminate one player for the turn but that is all he is able to do, while others players gain more gold, structures, or are able to control the flow of play as the King. Very fun. The only downside to Citadels is that I recommend having more than three players playing to really get the full experience out of this game. Now there are rules for two and three player games included but the game shines with four or more even though this is the only downfall of the game I would say it is its strength because the core of the game is the interaction between players. Wonderful Game.
This is a nice fast paced game that one can use to warm up with before playing other more complicated games. Strategies for this game can, and DO change each and every round. The basic premise of which is to complete a city with 8 district cards. Players score points at the game's end for the value (gold coins) of each card in their city. While it is possible in a 2 or 3 player game to build more than 8 cards in your city the game ends regardless at then end of any round where one (or more players) has built (placed) his 8th district card. Reminiscent of Steve Jackson's Illuminati card game, this game is much less complicated than Illumanti, and can be learned very quickly. I recommend buying some card protectors for the "Role" cards as these are handled more often and more roughly than the main deck.
The "Dark City" expansion adds new characters (Role cards) to play plus new district cards with new abilities for both (Role and district cards). The new district cards are added to the deck while at the same either removing certain cards from the basic game, or only adding 1 expansion card per player in the game. I've played Citadels with all the expansion districts added in, and with 2 or 3 players it does overpower the game, however if playing with more than 4 players you won't notice the overpowering. The expansion set also allows for the addition of an 8th player. The new role cards are used in place of (not in conjunction with) the original roles. Some have some very overpowering abilities like, the Navigator which allows the player to choose 4 cards, or 4 gold after taking their action turn. The expansion cards to be used, in my opinion, needs to be agreed upon by the players before shuffling them into the main deck. Players should choose how many expansion districts to use, and which (if any) original district cards to remove. This can make set up, and consequently the put up, take a little bit longer, but it's worth it in my opinion. Also players should agree on which (if any) role cards need to be replaced. My friends and I actually use either dice to randomize which roles to remove (an 8-sided die works best) or we agree verbally which to trade out, although there's less arguing when using a random dice roll.
As stated earlier your strategies might change from round to round, but your main goal remains the same, to build the most valuable city before game's end. One thing I can tell you is that going first in this game is not always a good thing. The first time I played it against my friend Kevin he went first almost every round until the last few rounds. I took control of the King Role (which allows a player to choose his role first) and as a result was able to complete my city in 2 rounds and beat him in the end with more points. So keep in my mind that sometimes it's best to sit idly by and observe your opponents before driving home the sword.
So, Citadels, a great warmer upper to any afternoon of gaming with your friends, and a decent travel game as well. My version is the streamlined edition in a slimmer box which lends itself to excellent portability, and can be carried along on a day hike, or extended camping trip. There are small pieces to be lost, but if you're careful it shouldn't be a major concern. You'll enjoy this game regardless of where you decide to play it. I give it 4 stars, you should give it a try.
You get killed at the beginning of several rounds in a row!!!
This is a very simple and fun game but there are times when you are accidentally killed several rounds in a row (which means you can't play those rounds). This happened to me 3 times in a row once. Needless to say, I hated that game. Other times I have gone through a whole game without getting the axe. Those games were a lot more fun!
Anyhow, I love this game and I highly recomend it. My only reservation is that it sucks when the game makes it so that you can't play the game.
First off, the guys who says that one person can be the king all the time if he wants is wrong. There is always a chance for him not to be and being the king is not the best move by far. There are times where it would be profitable but not often. The overall game play is good. It is a basic game where you can be one of eight people to help you achieve your goal...acquire the most points by the end of the game. You build a city and to end the game you must have eight districts. If you do get this game a hint is to get money in the beg. of the game and but don't let opposing players get too far ahead of you. The player who ends the game gets bonus points but there are ways to kill him. All-in-All I would recommend this game especially @ the price.
Citdels is a great game for many reasons: first, it is light and compact, making it easy to take to friends' homes or a trip with folks; second, it is pretty easy to teach to newcomers and third it is quite entertaining for 45-60 minutes. Many groups I have introduced to Citadels have had lots of laughs and fun while playing. There is opportunity for bluffing, a bit of role play and backstabbing...what else is needed? Highly recommended!!
My experience with this game has been mostly with 2 or 3, which is probably not the preferred way to play. However, with those numbers the game is not long. The strategy in this game revolves a lot around second guessing, choosing the occasionally sub-optimal move so that you won't get assassinated. The game changes quite a bit with different numbers of players.
I've played a lot of games with my 6 year old, and it's one of his favorite games. When we've played it with a third, however, that person has usually looked less than impressed, and that in turn has made me have less fun with it, which is why I've given it 4 instead of 5 stars.
This is one of those game where the fewer the number of players the worse the game is. I have only played this game with 5-7 players and it nowhere near as intriguing and suspenseful with five players, since more characters are eliminated from each round. What makes this game great is that your strategy changes with every round and it is often different from everyone elses. Picking characters is an entertaining psychological puzzle. Should you not take one character because everyone knows that is who you want to be, or will they think you would not dare take that character. The interaction between players is where you find out if your choice in characters was wise and is where this game shines. Some people have complained that there is too much down time between turns, but I found that after a few time playing that time is greatly reduced. There is an element of luck also, but it is not dominant. This game is unquestionable my favorite seven player game.
This game is so fun to play that not a single person with whom I've played has turned down a second game.
Everyone, from my grandmother (83) to my aunts (40-50's) to my friends (20s-30s) to my cousins (pre-teen and teens) to even my 4 year old nephew (okay-he didn't follow the rules but he really enjoyed the cards and money!) has loved it, asked to play it over and over, expected that I carry it with me everywhere. They will stay up late, put down a book, get up early, stop watching TV, come in from the lake, anything, at the call of Citadels.
I give only four stars though because the game material quality is not the highest. The cards are okay, but could be sturdier. All the other pieces are cardboard, rather lame. The Dutch edition's pieces are much better. The coins are thick plastic and small cards are included that list the characters and their special traits for quick reference. The dutch version did not have the expansion characters, though.
I can't remember a game more popular with my family and friends, with all ages, in all moods- and I get all the credit for introducing them to it! I highly, highly recommend it.
I would highly recommend this game to lovers of Hera&Zues, or other strategy card games. Also, lovers of Settlers of Catan will like the style of gaming. As for age range, I would recommend this game for adults who can appreciate good strategy, or for children who like the theme of Diablo or D@D. Furthermore, as a huge fan of advanced strategy games, I can say, this truly is a unique game. The strategy of this game is unmatchable. Highly recommeded for the intellectual who appreciates good strategy, great artwork, and a fastasy theme.
Citadels is a good game for a group of six or seven. My problem is, that the less people you have the less fun it is to play. When you have a large group, it can be a great, cutthroat game in which everyone gets to be spiteful. It has the ability to make otherwise uncompetitive people start acting frenzied when they are losing.
Citadels is a game that needs a second and third play before realizing just how fun it has the potential to be. Our group has discovered so far that the 3-player version stinks, 5-player is probably the best way to go, and it is the most fun when all players have the same level of experience and familiarity with the game. Also, don't give up if the first couple of games seem to drag as new players become familiar with the characters. It took us four games to make the game really zip along.
Citadels carries most of the key elements to a 'must-have' game: offers many choices, heavy in player interaction, subtle strategies, excellent replay value, nice art, and relatively inexpensive. My only beef with the English version is the quality of the components. After five plays some of the gold coins have begun to peel and separate, and the cards are rather flimsy. Hence, my four-star rating instead of five.
I haven't tried the 2-player version but I'm hearing it's not that bad, though quite a different experience than the multi-player game.All in all, I suspect Citadels will become a standard in most gamers' top-ten collections.
Admittedly, with larger groups, Citadels could potentially be disappointing (especially if someone is regularly assassinated), but I feel there's some clever mechanics here that help prevent constant 'hosing' of one person. It works especially well with 2-4 (very well with 2). I'm disappointed with the rather poor presentation in the English version (no box tray, flat-finish cards), but it's a solid buy for anyone who wants something with a little strategy, but yet is over fairly quickly. It's fun, but only if you consider that, at some point, you may very well be killed (out for a turn) or have your gold stolen. A lot of people don't like confrontational games like that where you can seriously impede other people's progress (I don't like that much), but I think here, it's balanced by numerous factors. Playing for numerous rounds after a score tally will also help people feel like they're doing more. The game can be spiced up a bit by using the new, English edition 'Expansion' cards which are basically new characters. You choose an expansion character you want, then substitute its numerical equal in the normal deck. I'd like to see a future expansion with new building cards with new abilities. Actually this game, in general, has a lot of possible expansion potential. I will agree with a previous comment that you should get some deck protectors for the character cards; they'll take a lot of abuse and given the relatively low quality of the cards (in my opinion) they'll need the help.
OFAR is an amusing and challenging game. It has been described exhaustively by others so I will not repeat these descriptions.
This is a fabulous game to take with you when traveling, epescially with friends. It takes up little space in one's luggage and can be played at casual restaurants (like pizza parlors) while waiting for chow! I would suggest buying plastic sleeves for the cards to preserve their finish and prevent melted cheese and cold beer from ruining an otherwise great game.
This card game seems to get more interesting each time I play it. I love the fact that there are so many different options for players. For example, I know that the first time I played I never chose the Magician because I thought that the Magician's powers were weak. It seemed better to go for characters that could get me more money or could possibly hurt someone else. Later on, I found out that trading a hand with someone is sometimes extremely valuable and also a way to hurt an opponent. It is a light game that usually is a lot of fun.
I really like this game. I couldn't wait for its English release as Citadels this year, and could not risk to see inferior artwork, so I bought the German version and brought the three different sets of rules from boardgamegeek to the gaming night. The game was a success (we played it with 6 players).
When I say I like it, keep in mind I got killed twice and robbed twice in seven rounds!! Now that's impact.
Why not 5 stars? Like I said in my review of Serenissima, it appeals to a more hard core crowd. The game is great, the pieces top quality, but not everyone in the group will always be willing to bend their mind as this game requires. Too bad. An excellent purchase. I look forward to playing it again.
Back at the 1999 Gathering of Friends, I first had the opportunity to play Bruno Faidutti's prototype, which was then known as Citadelles (and still is, in the French edition). Quite frankly, I wasn't as smitten with it as most were. I found the game had a considerable amount of down time and I never fully understood the powers of each card (there wasn't an English translation at the time). In fairness, we had played with a full contingent of seven players, all of whom were as unfamiliar with the game as I was.
At Gulf Games 5 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Jay 'Rio Grande Games' Tummelson brought along a whole slew of games, including Ohne Furcht und Adel, the German version of Citadelles as released by Hans Im Gluck. I was happy to give the game another opportunity, and am happy to report that the second time around was MUCH better. Familiarity with the rules and card powers was a tremendous benefit, as was the English player aid cards that Jay brought along. I've since played many more times with various numbers of folks and can unabashedly state that his is a wonderful game with some wickedly fun interaction. Hats off to Bruno for a truly fantastic game.
The only bad news is that the game is currently only available in Deutsch and, as I understand, French. Bruno hopes there will be an English version, but this is still tied up in legal purgatory. A bit of advice: don't wait. The German edition is splendid with some stunning artwork. Plus, with the aid of the English player aid charts available on the Games Dumpster, the language on the cards presents very little problem.
I've seen the many comparisons to Verrater, which are due mainly to the mechanism of selecting the individual characters each round. Bruno has even flatly stated that he lifted the mechanism directly from that game and, in my opinion, it is used to much greater effect here. What I haven't seen is the obvious comparisons to Groo. As in Groo, players each attempt to construct a village of buildings, while attempting to ward off the evil intentions of their opponents. However, Ohne Furcht und Adel is smoother, easier (not that Groo is all that difficult) and far less chaotic. Players don't have to balance various resources in order to construct buildings (as in Groo), but there is added emphasis on constructing various types of buildings as these earn more victory points and grant more flexibility when choosing characters. I enjoy Ohne Furcht und Adel far more than Groo as the utter chaos present in that game often renders careful planning useless.
In OFuA, there are eight characters present, ranging from the evil assassin to the benevolent king. Sandwiched in between are the merchant, preacher, architect, thief, magician and soldier. Each character has his own unique power. For example, the magician can switch his hand of cards with any other player, or freely discard and replace cards from his hand. The soldier can destroy any building for 1 gold coin less than it cost the player to construct it. Plus, he gets an extra coin for each 'red' building in his village. The king gets to choose the character he desires first in the next round, while earning an extra gold coin for each 'gold' building he has in his village. The thief names a character (not a player) and when that character's turn arrives, he steals all of that player's gold. Each of these powers is desirable at various points during the game and choosing which character to select for a round is an important, and often tough decision. The choice of a character also influences the actions you will take during a turn and often affects your play for several rounds. Choose wisely, grasshopper!
The method of choosing the character is directly lifted from Verrater. The deck of eight character cards is shuffled and one dealt to the player to the king's right, who will choose last in the round. The king then studies the remaining seven cards and selects one, passing the remaining cards to the player on his left. This process is repeated until the final player, who only has a choice of two cards in a seven player game, selects one and places the remaining card face-down out of play. This method is brilliant, as it does give limited knowledge to each of the players as to who possibly selected which power. This knowledge can be critical, especially when choosing the 'thief' or 'assassin' character, as it is essential to have a good idea of which cards have been taken. Armed with this knowledge, one can use some logic to deduce who selected which card, targeting the appropriate individuals. No, it's not a certainty, but one can narrow down the possibilities and increase the chances of success. One's first impulse when choosing a character is to select one which will grant a power you desire to utilize that turn. For instance, if you are low on building cards, the first temptation may be to choose the Baumeister, which grants the power of securing two extra building cards that round. However, astute opponents will recognize that this would be your likely choice and could easily target you with the assassin, thief or even the soldier. Having a good idea which character was selected by a player can be powerful--and deadly--knowledge.
The 'choosing of characters' method also prevents someone from doggedly pursuing one path. The method forces players to choose different characters on most turns, thereby altering their strategies and actions. Each and every round is a bit different for each player, and each and every game is certainly different. Adaptation is the key word.
Once characters are selected, each player takes their turn in a specified 'character' order. On a turn, a player may either select two gold pieces or two building cards. If he selects cards, he must keep one and discard the other. Then, the player may construct ONE building (unless he is the Baumeister, in which case he can build up to 3 buildings). The cost to construct a building is listed on the card itself and is paid for in coins. At any time during his turn a player may utilize his character's special power, but he is not required to do so. Play continues in a like fashion until all players have had their turn. The player who possessed the character who was targeted by the assassin (if any) loses his turn, while the player targeted by the thief loses his stockpile of gold.
The game ends when one player constructs his eighth building, at which point the round is finished and points tallied. Each building is worth a number of victory points equal to the cost to construct it (with a few exceptions). Further, there are bonus points:
- 4 points for being the first player to construct his eighth building;
- 2 points for constructing eight buildings by the end of the game;
- 3 points for having constructed buildings in the five different color classes.
Believe it or not, that's about it. The mechanics are VERY simple and easy to learn. There are some 'special' buildings which alter play a bit, but they are few and easy to understand, especially with the aid of English player aid charts lifted from the Games Dumpster. It's one of those games (along with Taj Mahal) that takes longer to explain the rules than it does for a player to understand the game after just one round of play.
To be sure, there are decisions to be made along the way, the most important of those being in the selection of characters. Further, racing to construct eight buildings may not necessarily be the best tactic. There are an abundance of 'cheap' buildings which cost only one or two gold pieces to construct, but an entire city of low-rent buildings won't amount to many victory points at game's end. Further, these buildings are easier to destroy by the mercenary soldier, so you are an easy target if your town is comprised of these bargain basement buildings. Often, the wiser play is to save your gold and build more 'valuable' buildings. The danger here, of course, is the threat of burglary from the dastardly thief. Ahhh... choices and decisions. Still, in spite of these choices, one isn't overloaded with decisions to make. One doesn't get those knots in the stomach which occur when playing games such as El Grande, Torres or Taj Mahal. That isn't a bad thing as it helps make Ohne Furcht und Adel more accessible to a wider range of folks. There's enough here to appeal to just about every class of gamer, with the possible exception of the hard-core, ' German games are fluff' war gamer. An added bonus is that the game can accommodate seven players, an all-too-rare commodity in today's market. That factor alone will insure that Ohne Furcht und Adel enjoys regular table time.
I'm a bit surprised at the low marks so far for this game--it's really been one of the best values. The game revolves around picking one of eight special characters--using those characters for your turn (most have a special power--but the characters also determine in what order you play the round). The object is to build 8 different buildings in your 'city'. Each building requires gold to build and is worth points--the more expensive the building, the more points it's worth. Enough mechanics--anyway the fun in the game lies in the choosing of characters each turn. Character cards are chosen in order--from the previous King (one of the Characters) and going clockwise. So you know what you choose--you know what you passed clockwise, but you never know the full story. But you can deduce! Here is the real fun--see that person with the big stack of gold--looks like they might take the Baumeister (lets you build more buildings on a turn if you have the gold). Someone with a lot of green buildings--they might take the Handler who would earn gold for each of those buildings. A player with no cards? Smells like the Magician (who can exchange their hand for one of any other players). Knowing the characters and who might take which is important so that you can use your character to maximum effect (for example, the Meuchler can assassinate one other character--not a player, but a character, so deducing characters helps). Anyway, I've played at least a half-dozen times with different groups each time and everyone seemed to have a blast with it. Highly recommended--especially considering the price! Lastly--the German on the cards is not very difficult--with a small English cheat-sheet, the game is easily managable by even the most German-phobic. Best with 4-6 but plays fine with 7.
This game should only be played with 4 or more players. If your looking for a good card game for two of this style try the Settlers of Catan Card game with expansions.
What I like about this game is the ability to be different characters on each turn, much of the art, the good replay value, and the difficult choices one has to make about the game.
This game is also free of language, which makes it fun for kids. I've taught my five year old to play it with his friends and they seem to enjoy it with a bit of supervision. I'm not saying that its a kid's game, but they will be able to pick it up and do enjoy assainating and stealing from other players.
As with a couple of other reviewers, I dislike the shoddy components as well as the lack of any tray in the box. But I guess you get what you pay for.
It's a fun diversion and good if your group isn't in the mood for something incredibly complicated.
How do those Germans do it? Not only do they craft marvellous board games (okay, so this one is by a Frenchman), but the German language is filled with some unintentionally hilarious puns in English. I was utterly puzzled when I first played this game: I could identify many of the districts at first glance, but the 'Rathaus' made no sense to me. I took it to Bablefish and nearly fell out of my chair laughing -- Rathaus (pronounced Rat-house) is German for City Hall!
Anyways, enough babbling! What's the game like? Essentially it is a rather clever bluffing game. Pick a character card secretly, then try to maximize your point score by building a variety of buildings that add prestige to your region. The game itself plays well from 2 (yes, 2) players all the way to 7, which is hugely in it's favor. The game is solid, has no flaws that I am aware of, and the artwork is excellently done--for the most part. But, it's actually the artwork that ultimately made me decide not to purchase the game.
Some of the cards are wonderfully drawn and take your breath away--the Jagdschloss (Hunting Manor), Schloss (Castle), Festung (Fortress) and many others come to mind. Others are just great to look at, full of character, like the Tavern, the Kirche (Church), the Abtei (Abbey). But others I find very dark or macabre. The ones I especially disliked were the Graveyard (the German name escapes me), the Meuchler (Murderer--I prefer to think of it as a kidnapper), and the Kerker (Dungeon). For younger families, this game won't hold too much appeal, because bluffing games seem to appeal to people once they hit their late teens or twenties. But since some of the artwork is rather grim, it may well turn others, such as myself, away from an otherwise well-designed game.
The game itself is great, it is a great price for what you get, the artwork is the best I've seen in a game, but the dark nature of some of the districts may bother some people, and that might be enough to dissuade you from a purchase. Pity. I don't understand why a game like this would have such a contrast in theme between the various districts. Some are whimsical and creative, others dark and disturbing. If all the cards had been one or the other this game would be easier to give an opinion on. Had the the districts all been as adventurous as the Kontor (Shipping House), Turnierplatz (Training Ground), and the Wehrturm (Watchtower/Wartower), I would have given this 5 stars and recommended it heartily. But as it is, I would say pass.
An interesting game with amazing drawings for the cards. That alone would make me buy this game. I don't own this but a friend recently purchased it. I didn't mind it. It's much like Verrater, where players choose what profession they'll be. It's also like Groo. Unfortunately.
The object is to build 7 buildings. These cost gold coins which are given at the beginning of a turn. The winner is the player who ends the game with the most valuable buildings. The buildings also aid you in your quest, giving you more gold, more cards, etc. All in all, an interesting game. So far I prefer Verrater.
I was quite disappointed in this game. I liked the idea of changing characters each round. However, the way the rules are written one person can remain King the entire game. This makes the game pretty boring for those sitting to the right of the King. I think the game needs new rules so there are some defensive strategies for those trapped by the King.
Alternate rule suggestions welcome.
Hans im Glck's small-box stuff (Klunker, T-Rex, Dolce Vita, and this) is sort of anomolous for them.... Unlike their large-box games, which tend to be of amazingly high quality (El Grande, Modern Art, Euphrat & Tigris, Samurai, Morgenland, etc.--some of the best games of the last 5 years), their small-box stuff seems to be average at best.
As the other reviewers have mentioned, this is sort of a dumbed-down Verrter where you are trying to build a high-quality city. It's actually a reasonably clever game, but the problem is that it's long and slow, especially for a game that's awfully light. You spend a lot of time waiting for your turn in this game that can take up to 90 minutes, even though the game is set up to limit any kind of long-term strategy you might try to implement.
The box says the game goes up to 7, but I'd say 5 is more realistic. More than that, you'll spend way too much time sitting around and the game will take much longer than it's worth.
Still, not bad, and it does work decently with 6 players, which is unusual. Still, not recommended for a lighter 6-player game over Breaking Away or Kremlin or anything. And certainly not in the same class as Verrter.
Maybe it's just me but every time I play this (about a dozen times now) it just seems to drag. I've played it with 4-7 players and it's definitely worse with more.
The almost blind Assassin really makes things dull for the guy that's dead that turn (and never mind if you get zapped twice in a row). Overall the luck element is simply too high for a game that can go on as long as it does.
Another complaint, the little cardboard counters are a definite step down from the butterscotch candies used in the German edition.
The more I've played it, the less I like it.
I have only played 'Citadels' as a game for two, but as such find it dry, lacking in tension, and a game where my partner and I find ourselves just 'going through the motions'.
Admittedly the following two games are designed as two-player only, but as card-based games relying on bluff, ESP, out-guessing your partner and direct strategy I would cite the following as much better investments:
'Hera and Zeus' (for tension and bluff especially)
'Marrakesh' (sadly out of print, for ESP and double-guessing your partner).
P.S. When will 'Xanadu Leisure' get round to realising what an original and clever game 'Marrakesh' is and get round to re-publishing it?
As you can tell from the writeups on this page, this game is essentially structured chaos. By that, I mean that chaotic actions take place in a determined sequence. You have very little control over what you're doing, as most of the time you don't know which player is in possession of which character.
But that's not the only reason to give this game only 1 star. After all, there are a few chaotic games which I enjoy, but that number is falling fast. The biggest reason is the incredible down time spent passing the character cards around before each short round. 'OK, Matt, decide which of the 7 cards you want... same year rule applies.' It's just incredibly painful.
Build lucrative districts quickly to win by earning the most points. In a round, each player secretly selects a uniquely ranked character from a deck of nine characters. Everyone takes a turn in order of rank. On a turn, a player either takes two gold pieces or obtains a new district card for his hand. He may play one district card in front of him, paying its cost in gold. (More expensive districts earn more points at game's end.) The character he plays entitles him to a special action, such as building extra districts, obtaining more gold, or destroying someone else's district. The game ends when someone has built eight districts. It's the perfect game for those who enjoy character-building experiences.
The designer acknowledges his debt to Verräter (a selection in last year's Games 100), a game he improved upon to create this finalist for Germany's prestigious Game of the Year award. You are a city planner trying to develop a prosperous metropolis with building cards representing five districts. Rounds begin with the starting player secretly selecting any of the eight character cards; the remainder are passed clockwise for others to choose. Characters, benign or malevolent, offer a vexing array of interactive services, and turn order depends on who you pick. When it's your turn, take two gold pieces or a building card. You may also construct a building by paying its cost (from one to eight gold pieces), and use your character's special power. When a player constructs his eighth edifice, the city with the highest total cost of construction wins. Faidutti has constructed a masterpiece on an excellent foundation.
The game components are a deck of building cards, 8 character cards, gold pieces and a King marker. (The King is one of the characters and the marker just indicates who was that character in the previous turn.) The building cards come in five different colors (Blue -- Religious, Red -- Noble, Green -- Commercial, Grey -- Military, Purple -- Special), with varying subtypes and they have construction costs ranging from 1 to 6. These are also the points they provide at the end of the game; though at least one of the Special cards gives more victory points than it costs to build. In addition, the Purple buildings generally have some special power or feature. (There were those who claimed these may be too unbalancing, but I didn't think so. If it does turn out to be the case, you could easily play without the special powers.)
The main part of a player's turn consists of either taking two gold in income or one random building card and then constructing one building, the construction part being optional. Also, each turn, every player will be a different character and this gives them a special power or two that they may use (generally any time during their turn, but only once).
The game starts with each player being dealt X building cards (6?) and Y gold (3?). One person is chosen randomly to be the de-facto King for the first turn. The King takes the 8 character cards, shuffles them, and depending on the number of players takes some at random and turns them face down and possibly face-up (with 6 players, 1 goes face down; with 5 players 1 goes down, 1 goes up. The 5 player version may be slightly better as everyone knows at least one character that is not in the game this round). The King now looks through the remaining characters, secretly picks the one he wants and passes the rest to the next player. This goes all the way around until everyone has chosen a character. The last person to choose always has a choice of only two and the last unused character is placed face down. Notice that already there are some interesting mechanisms at work here. Only the King knows which one unknown character is out of play at the beginning and the last person to choose knows the other one.
In the order they take their turns, the characters and their special powers are as follows:
- The Assassin chooses a character (not a player). When it is the victim's turn to act, they do nothing that turn. Being dead does that to a person.
- The Thief chooses a character (not the Assassin or the victim). When it is the victim's turn to act, they give all their gold to the Thief (before they receive their income).
- In the above two cases if a character not in play is chosen, there's no effect.
- The Magician can either discard as many cards as desired and replace them from the stock of buildings, or choose a player and exchange hands with them (including a 0 for X swap).
- The King chooses first character next round and receives 1 gold for every Noble/Red building in front of him. (You can take this income before or after you build). The King's other job is do call out the characters in order after they've been chosen, asking them to take their turn.
- The Priest receives 1 gold for every Religious/Blue building in front of them and they can't be targeted by the Condotierre (see below).
- The Merchant receives 1 extra gold and also receives 1 gold for every Green/Commercial building in front of them.
- The Architect receives 2 extra building cards and can build up to three buildings.
- The Condottiere receives 1 gold for each Grey/Military building in front of them and destroys one building by paying the construction cost minus 1 to the bank. (So yes, buildings which cost 1 to build can be destroyed for free). The Condotierre can not destroy a building in a completed city (a crucial rule.
The game ends on the round when one player builds the final building of their city. (The rules say 8 but we played 7 at The Gathering to make for a quicker game). The rest of the players who haven't gone yet that round, take their turns and then victory points are counted. You get a 4 point bonus for being the first to finish your city, 2 for finishing but not being first and 2 for having at least one of each type of building. Add the construction costs, and that's your score.
And that, as they say, is that. Playing to 7 buildings, it all played out in about an hour with 5 and 6 players, playing to 8 would perhaps be a half-hour more.
I found that the balance of the character powers was spot-on, with different characters being more or less powerful/desirable at different stages of the game. Their popularity as targets for assassination also depended on the stage of the game as well as on the threat posed by a particular player getting a particular character. For example, if you are two or three buildings away from completing your city and you pick the architect, you can almost be guaranteed not to be taking your turn.
I only saw one game where a person was out of the running. (They got stuck to the right of the King and the King card kept being out of play). But even then you are still likely to get a character that helps. There is a luck element in the game (as in all of Bruno's) but I found the luck/skill balance very well done.
Highest recommendation (as long as you don't mind some chaos in your gaming).
By the way, for those who are concerned with the obvious borrowing from Verräter, Bruno told me he had the building, scoring and character system for months, but didn't know how to distribute the characters in a clever and tactical way. When he saw Verräter, he thought it was exactly what was lacking and felt it fitted even better in Citadels and so acknowledges this credit for the character system.