English language edition of Ohne Furcht und Adel; first edition
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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!
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.
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):
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.