Fantasy Flight Games: Citadels

November 28, 2011

Publisher Fantasy of Flight
Genre Card Game
Number of Players 2 to 7
Play Time 1 hr
Initial Review Date 8/11/11
Last Updated 11/27/11
FAQ Official FAQ
Files/Tools Official Rules
Click Here to Play

Citadels is an interesting little card game that is fairly easy to learn. It reminds me a little bit of race for the galaxy.

In this game each player is trying to build up a citadel and gets points at the end of the game based on what they have built.


There are 8 character cards which determine play order and special abilities.

The current “king” starts the round by collecting all of the character cards and randomly tossing out one or two cards, depending on how many players you have. They then look at the remaining cards and pick one. The cards that are left are then passed to the next player.

This continues until the last player receives 2 character cards to pick from. The one not picked is added to the previous discards.

In this way some roles are not chosen and only the very first player and very last player know for sure what characters were not chosen and even then neither player has complete information on this.

Then characters are revealed starting with the character card numbered 1.

This continues until all 8 character cards have been called. Then the round begins again.

Turn Sequence

So, during your turn you can do one of the two following actions.

  • take 2 gold
  • draw 2 cards, keeping one and discarding the other.

Additionally, you can do the following actions at any point during your turn

  •  use your character’s special ability
  • play a single card

Playing Cards

Each card has a gold cost associated with building it. Additionally, that is how many points the card is worth at the end of the game. So, to play a card you place it face up and give the associated money to the bank.

Many cards simply indicate a color. There are some however that instead of indicating a color they grant some special ability. The more expensive cards are of course worth more points but are also more challenging to play.

Character Abilities

So, each character has a number. Below is a list of what each character does.

Assassin (1) – Pick another character, any player who has picked this character skips their turn. The character chosen can not be stolen from.

Thief (2) – Pick any character other than the assassin and the assassin’s target. If any player has picked this character you get all of that player’s money when it is their turn.

Magician (3) – You may do one of the two following actions:

  • Exchange your hand with the hand of another player (this does not include cards already played)
  • Replace any number of cards from your hand with cards drawn from the top of the deck (cards removed from your hand go to the bottom of the deck.

King (4) – You gain the king token. Gain 1 gold coin for every yellow card you have played.

Bishop (5) – Your buildings can not be destroyed. Gain 1 gold coin for every blue card you have played.

Merchant (6) – You gain 1 gold coin after you take an action (drawing 2 cards or taking 2 gold coins) . Gain 1 gold coin for every green card  you have played.

Architect (7) – After taking an action draw two additional district cards and place them in your hand. You may build up to 3 districts on your turn.

Warlord (8) – Destroy any one building not owned by the bishop. You must pay gold equal to the building’s cost minus 1.

Winning the game

The game ends once a player has played 8 cards. The first player to do this gets 4 bonus points. Additionally, every player that has 1 card of each of the 5 colors gains an additional 3 points at the end of the game.


The game isn’t bad. It feels very confrontational though as half of the characters have offensive type abilities. You can try to “play nice” but this just tends to mean that you are on the receiving side of the attacks. This is large in part due to the fact that the thief and assassin are largely “blind” attacks meaning you may get hit repeatedly without even getting
specifically targeted.

I think a lot of meta gaming is required in order to make your attacks less random.

The game is also not really any good with just 2 players. I have tried playing it this way and it’s clear the mechanics are really designed with 5 to 6 players in mind.

It’s an ok game, but it’s one you may want to pass on.


One comment

  1. Solid review. I can agree with you on the aggressiveness in the game, and the importance of the metagame for Citadels. The built in expansion actually does a lot to make the game less adversarial, the Witch (which replaces the Assassin) and Diplomat (which replaces the Warlord) both do a great job of keeping the threat, but reducing the penalty of being targeted.

    The game having very strong adversarial mechanics does, however, makes choosing high profile roles (Architect or Merchant) a very High Risk/High Reward choice when there’s a potential Assassin/Witch/Thief/Magician out there. I think that having to make choices like that is very interesting for the gameplay.

    2 Player Citadels is indeed a very different beast, and I’ve had great times and terrible times with it. I agree that the game is much better with 4-6 players.

    – Citadels gamer for 4 years and 30-ish plays.

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