Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Citadels - A Card Game Of Buildings And Backstabbery
The character cards are quite varied in what they do and the differences in each make for a very strategic game. You can select either the Assassin, Thief, Merchant, King, Architect, Warlord, Bishop, or Magician. Each must be played in order, as I have said, and each has his own special ability which grants him certain advantages. The tricky part is that at the beginning of each round you get to select one of these to play for that round, and depending on how many players are in the game you may select your character at random. An example of character powers is that the Assassin can select another character to assassinate, and the assassinated character loses their turn that round. Another example is the Warlord, who can destroy another player's "districts" for a price, thereby taking victory points away from the enemy. There are also other powers that affect your cards, like the Magician's ability to swap cards and the Architect's ability to build more than the normal one district per turn. The balance for such a large cast of characters is astoundingly good, and there really is no "kingmaking" in this game.
The districts themselves are quite varied and come in one of five different "types" which are identified by small little colored rondelles on the card, and signify them as a "Noble", "Military", "Religious", "Trade", or "Special" district. These types generally are matched to the characters, meaning that the King gets a bonus for "Noble" districts and the Bishop gets a bonus for "Religious" ones. The interaction between the districts and the characters is probably the single most important aspect of the game since most of these interactions allow you to gain extra gold which will allow you to more quickly build districts. The downside is that you can easily become a target of theivery when you hoard gold for too long, so it's also important to get decent cards quickly.
The last thing I will mention is that the "Dark City" expansion is included with the latest printing of this game, which gives you 14 new districts and 10 new character cards that can replace some, or all, of the existing characters. The best thing about the expansion is the new districts that really add some coolness to the game with some very creative and interactive powers that had not been previously introduced, which expands the replayability even further. I am told that this expansion also has the inclusion of the wooden "King" marker that gets passed to the player who has selected the King, but I have only ever owned this version so I always had it and quite honestly, "meh" is the appropriate response for this addition.
At the end of the day, this game can be quite strategic due to all the variables in play at any given time. I would recommend this game to almost everyone. It's good for 1v1 play where each player can take two characters per turn to the most raucous 8-player groups starving for some death and dismemberment. It's a hell of a filler game, and the short playtime allows for both multiple games per gathering or as a 'warmup' game while waiting for the rest of your group to arrive.
Things I liked:
*The game's price point is absolutely perfect for the value
*The quality of art is very good, especially with as many cards as you get
*Brisk play and fast turns allow for quick games and little downtime between turns
*Excellent replayability potential
Things I detested:
*The little gold coins are a bit on the cheesy side, but are passable and serve their purpose
This is a great game and the varied character powers, card types, and overall bluffing mechanics in the game make this a game that I believe every person who likes card games should absolutely own.
You can find Citadels HERE: http://new.fantasyflightgames.com/edge_minisite.asp?eidm=31