Time to build a city! Citadels is a competitive card game where players attempt to build up their city -- and keep their opponents from doing the same -- by taking on different roles each round and bulding new districts.

At the start of each round of Citadels, players begin by selecting one (or two, if only two or three people are playing) of eight characters to act as for that turn. Each character has a number, which determines the order in which players get to go. Characters also have different special abilities: The Assassin can name another character to skip their turn that round, the King gets one gold for each yellow building and gets to select their character first, the Magician can swap district cards with an opponent or a deck, etc.

During a player's turn, they can either collect two gold from the bank or draw two district cards and keep one. After that, the player can build a district card. Each district card represents a building or area and has a gold cost (which is also its point value at the end of the game), color (red, yellow, blue, green, or purple), and sometimes a special ability. Players can also use their character's special ability at any time during their turn, and using an ability at the start or end of a turn can prove very important (for example, the Magician may play their last district card then swap hands with an opponent, or the Warlord may build a red district and then collect 1 gold for each red district, plus destroy an opponent's district for one less gold than it cost to build).

The game ends when a player builds their eighth district. The other players get to take their turns for the rest of the round, then the points are added. Every players gets points for the gold cost of their districts. In addition, the first player to build eight districts gets four points, every other player with eight districts gets two points,
and every player with at least one district of each color gets three points.

Citadels has a nice mix of strategy and luck. With all the roles available to everyone, every player knows what an opponent can do and has to plan for what they will do. Guessing which character the Assassin will force to skip their turn can be devastating if used against the right player; however, it can also be wasted if you pick a character selected by a different player -- or one of the discards. LIkewise, it's not always an easy choice to pick between getting the gold to build a district, or getting the cards for the best district to build.

I enjoy Citadels a lot. There's no one strategy that guarantees victory: I've had days when I won three or four games, and others where I couldn't win once. The games are pretty quick -- usually half an hour or less -- and new players will have no trouble learning the rules. Citadels may not be especially deep, but it's a fun game that's good for a few quick games during a get-together.

Overall grade: B

Reviewed by James Lynch

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