Citadels consists of relatively few formal elements. The game physically consists of four elements: district cards, character cards, a crown token, and gold tokens. District cards detail the districts name, type, cost to build, and special ability (if applicable). Character cards detail the character’s profession, their placement number in the round, and their special ability. The gold tokens are used to pay for the construction of districts within the player’s city. They can be gained during the player’s turn or through special abilities granted by certain characters. The crown token goes to whichever player is currently the king. This player announces which character will play next by counting from one through eight. Whenever the king character is called, the crown token immediately transfers to the player with the king character and that player takes over as king. At the beginning of the game, the crown token goes to the oldest player until the king character is called.
the beginning of each round, the character cards are distributed among
the players, with all players receiving either one card or two,
depending on the number of players. One random character card is
discarded before the round by the player with the crown token. After
that, the king begins calling character numbers. The player turn consist
of three phases: acquire, where you draw district cards or gold tokens,
build, where you can build a district for the number of gold tokens
displayed on the card, and ability, where you can use the character’s
special ability. Only one district can be built per player turn unless
the player has an ability to change this. Only one district of a given
name may be built by each player. The game ends when a player builds 8
districts. At the end of the game, each player gets points corresponding
to the value of all their districts, as well as bonuses for being the
first to have 8 districts, to have 8 districts by the end of the final
round, and for having districts of each of the five types.
the game of Citadels that I played I noticed that these mechanics lead
to a few interesting dynamics. When playing with three people, each
person manages two character cards. This leads to what I would call
“character seeding” in which players choose their first character to
compliment their second character. For example, when someone had larger
number of districts, we saw that it was advantageous to choose the
bishop first in order to protect their districts. The second move, the
player would choose a more offensive character, like the merchant or the
thief. Another common dynamic was for someone to pick the merchant
first in order to supply extra gold for their second character to use.
In addition, having two rounds of picking characters lets you know who
has what cards with more certainty. This allowed for targeting; doing
damage to a specific player by knowing which character they are likely
to have. I thought that this took away from the aesthetic of the game
because it limited the mystery and the element of surprise.
believe that the fact that my group played with three players rather
than 4+ (as it was ideally meant to be played), I was able to see why
the designer chose to make the game for four or more players. Having
more players hides the identity of the player characters and makes for
fairer play. In addition, it enforces a more even distribution of power
by not allowing the character seeding that I saw in the three player
game. I also think that the designer’s choice to have the characters go
in a specific order is beneficial. The characters that grant a higher
personal gain tend to come later in the round, while more defensive
characters are first. This allows for players to neutralize threats that
might come their way later in the game.
a final wrap-up, I believe that Citadels maintained a consistent level
of fun and competitiveness. It encourages players to modify their
strategy for both the beginning and the end of the game. It did,
however, become obvious that the three player option is unbalanced and
removes critical elements that help to create the pleasing aesthetic.