I had heard a lot of good things about this game and had thought about purchasing it many times, but had just never got around to it. Matt brought it over to one of my Monday Night Game Nights and we got a chance to play it two-player since no one else had shown up yet. After that, I knew that I wanted to purchase a copy for myself.
Gameplay – I know this game can spark quite a bit of controversy on the best way to play it, but I have found in my gaming circle that it scales very well. I have had very enjoyable games with two to eight players with the Dark City expansion. The game is a very different beast between two players and eight though.
The object of the game is to make the best city by building districts on each of your turns. Players start the game with four district cards in their hand and two gold.
Each turn a player selects a role from one of the eight roles numbered one to eight. The roles in the base game are 1 – The Assassin. This player can choose a character and if another player has chosen that character, they will lose their turn. 2 – The Theif, this character can select a character and if a player has chosen it, when they reveal that it, the thief can take their gold. 3 – The Magician, this character can discard as many district cards from hand and redraw the same number, or exchange hands with another player. 4 – The King, this character gets one gold income for each yellow district in the player’s city. The King also gets to take the crown token which will allow that player to choose first from the roles on subsequent turns. 5 – The Bishop, this character gets one gold for each blue district in a player’s city and makes that player immune from the Warlord. 6 – The Merchant, the player that selects the Merchant gains a gold for each green district in a player’s city, and gives the player a gold after they take an action. 7 – The Architect, this character allows a player two draw two district cards after taking an action and allows the player to build up to three district cards this turn. 8 – The Warlord, on the Warlord’s turn, that player can take one gold income for each red building and pay the cost of an opponent’s district minus one to discard it.
After everyone has selected a role, the King will call out the first role, the Assassin. The Assassin player will then take his/her turn. The player will start off by using the Assassin ability, then that player may take one of two actions. He or She may take two gold from the bank, or he or she may draw two districts from the district pile, but he or she must discard one. Then that player may build one district if he or she wishes. Play continues on with number the second role The Thief, the third role The Magician and so on, all the way to the eighth role, The Warlord. Players will then choose roles again and play out another round until at the end of the round someone has 8 districts out.
The game ends at the end of the round in which a player has build 8 districts. Players then score their cities. Each district is worth a point for each gold it cost. Four bonus points are awarded to the player that built 8 districts first and each player that also built 8 districts gets two bonus points. There are also three bonus points awarded to each player that has built a district of each of the 5 colors.
In a two or three player game, players will end up taking on two roles. I also feel that the Dark City expansion makes the two player experience a lot better by substituting the Witch for the Assassin.
I talked a little bit about the colors of the districts above. The red, yellow, green and blue all give income to their respective role, but there is one color that I haven’t talked about yet, and that is purple. The purple building each have their own special abilities that can be very helpful.
The game is basically a role choosing hand management game with some bluffing and deduction involved.
One’s seating position can have a positive or negative aspect on their ability to win, but overall I think that the King counter is easy enough to move around that eventually one will have an improved position if he or she wants.
I feel that the gameplay deserves 9 out of 10 gold.
Look and Feel - This game mostly shines in the look and feel department, but that also depends on which version one can get a hold of. I have the newer Fantasy Flight Games version that has the Dark City expansion included.
The art on the cards is great. I know there are a few cards that some people have mentioned are too risqué, or grotesque, but I personally don’t see any problems. I just see beautifully rendered artwork on each card. There is a negative to the cards though, they seem to wear really easily, especially the role cards. I know that they get handled a lot, but I think FFG would be aware of the amount of ware that at least the role cards would get, and could have produced better wearing role cards at least.
Gold pieces in the version I have are very nice plastic pieces that have kind of a gold yellow marbled look to them. They look and feel great, while performing their function very well. I know one of the other versions had cardboard punch out gold pieces, which would function fine, but would not be near as nice.
The only other item in the box is the crown counter, which is a nice painted wood piece. There is one thing that bothers me about it. Mine at least isn’t quite symmetrical, and it always just kind of sticks out at me like a sore thumb. I know it is really nit-picky, but I can’t help but notice it.
This box is also a pretty good one as far as boxes go. It is a little bit of an odd shape, but it has good solid construction and shouldn’t have trouble with warping. It has a little bit of extra space, but it is pretty much just a comfortable amount and not a waste like some games. The art on the box is also very nice to match the cards inside. It doesn’t give you a wrong impression; the quality of the art on the box is what you get inside.
The look and feel of this game earns Citadels 7 out of 10 gold.
Overall Score- 8 gold out of 10
Final Word - If you like role selection and or bluffing, this could be a good game for you. My wife and I like to play it just as a couple or with several other people and have fun both ways.