Citadels is a card game with numerous publishers as its been around since 2000 but this review is based on the Fantasy Flight version. Designed by Bruno Faidutti, this is an interesting and fun game in a medieval theme setting where you have to build your city by collecting coins, spending to place building cards worth various values and whilst building your city, trying to prevent other players from scoring valuable buildings through theft, assassination and smart card play. The components are of good quality with very nice artwork evoking the theme and this adds to the experience.
Each round, the players all choose a role such as King, thief, merchant, bishop, assassin, architect, warlord, each with a special ability which can help you collect coins to build or attack other players. Choice of role moves clockwise from the current King and so those who are furthest around the table have less choice. Trying to make a good choice of role adds some strategy as you try and figure out what roles others have chosen which is largely guesswork and intuition as well as deduction reasoning. Having said that, bluffing can get you some real benefits so its the kind of game that will never play the same way twice.
The challenge of out guessing the other players is pretty cool but a fair amount is left to chance which can be annoying in that you can feel picked on to a certain degree, somewhat deliberately and more annoyingly, randomly as the luck of roles that are picked can lead to this. Also, this game can take far too long for what it is, especially with more players (I played with 6) and a combination of game end rules (the first person who gets 8 buildings ends the game with taking a bit too long to choose roles and a bit of analysis paralysis can slow things down. I would say that you should agree a 30 second limit to choose roles and a 5-6 building game limit should make for a better game.
There are some clever special abilities and cards which makes for a thinking element with limited choices but also makes the game longer. The winner is decided by counting up the value of your buildings and adding any bonuses granted by special cards.
Did it work for me?
Yes and no. I like the theme and mechanics. The mixture of randomness and some strategy works well for the most part although there can be some real frustration due for the most part to luck. Easy mechanics but not so easy to play as it takes some thinking in choosing roles and making choices and hence with 8 buildings closing down the game makes for a long game with 6 players. far too long for what is. It needs to be shorter and sharper. And I say all this having won the game!
I think ages 10 + is not appropriate as I think the younger end will get pretty bored. I’d say that this one is for mid teens and older due to its length and level of complexity.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 6 out of 10 – good but not great