Citidels

Today I played a new game for the first time.  The game is called Citadels and on paper it is a very simple game.  The game starts, each player starting with a hand of cards and a few gold, with the object of creating the most magnificent city in the game.  At the start of each turn, the players take turns selecting character cards, then take turns playing their actions for the turn in an order decided by the type of character card that was selected.  On your action, you can first either gain some gold or draw two cards and discard one.  Then you can pay some gold to build a building.  Additionally, each different character card has a different effect that can be activated at any point during your action.  Most buildings simply have one of five colors and a cost in gold.  Some special purple buildings will also have an additional effect, but while these effects can be important, they are not the focus of the game.  The focus of the game is rather upon the character selection that happens each turn.  Not only does character selection effect turn order, but the special abilities can be really important.  The element that makes the game truly fun is the fact that many of the cards will effectively counter out other cards.  The card that goes first is called the assassin.  When you start your turn with assassin, you select another character card.  That character is dead for this turn, and if a player had selected that character then they do not get a turn for that round.  So while you might want to select the merchant, which gives you gold for every green building, if you have a lot of green buildings, if you have too many, then it is almost guaranteed that the merchant will be assassinated and so your only hope of having a turn is selecting a different card.  This element of prediction is further enhanced by the way that cards are selected, with a random card being selected to be removed for the turn, and then a set order of player selection.  The player that goes first will have the advantage of knowing what the discard was and picking first, while those that go later know what cards have been selected and act accordingly.  In the three player version the stack goes around twice so the game of “I know you know I know.” can become incredibly complex.  All in all it is a great game that actually requires a strong ability to think and act strategically along with testing your ability to get inside your opponents’ heads.  Like many games with simple rules, its complexity is of the right kind to be fun, and while I have so far only played once, I look forward to playing again in the future.

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