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Subject: Adding the Dark City rss

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Barry Figgins
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Ok, so you've got Citadels, and you just picked up the Dark City expansion - or, you got one of the more recent releases that comes with the expansion. But this isn't really an expansion, more like a replace-ion, since you'll be replacing some of your older cards with the newer ones.

So, this is partially a review of Dark City, and partially some recommendations on the character mix.

#1: The Assassin vs. The Witch

This change is almost worth the price of the Dark City alone. The Assassin's ability to cause a player to miss his turn is replaced by the Witch's ability to steal another player's turn. This has two advantages: first, it adds some risk to the #1 card. If the Witch picks a character who isn't in the game, she loses her turn. Second, the Witch is gentler to the character she hits - he still gets half his turn, which means more money and more cards in the game, which makes it flow better. Always choose the Witch.

#2: The Thief vs. The Tax Collector

At first glance, the Tax Collector seems great - get a gold from anyone who builds. That sounds like 5-6 free gold every turn, right? Well, in practice, tax evasion is a cinch, and the Tax Collector is a joke. That's not the reason I recommend the Thief, though. I recommend the thief because it makes the game more tense. A lot of the fun of Citadels is in predicting what your opponents will take, and screwing them over. The Tax Collector doesn't require any prediction, but the Thief does. More paranoia and fear means more fun in this one.

#3: The Magician vs. The Wizard

This is a tougher one, because both cards have some good potential to mess with other players. The Wizard ensures that you get to steal your buddy's best card, but with the Magician, you can steal all his cards and leave him with nothing at all!
I recommend the Wizard, though, for the simple reason that it's less obvious. In basic Citadels, if someone runs out of cards, you know they're going to go after either the Magician or the Architect. Players with a lot of cards have little incentive to take the Magician. With the Wizard, his ability is always useful, and if he's lucky, he can build two districts a turn! This makes him a nice 'Architect Lite', who benefits from both increased building speed and an early initiative number. Go for the Wizard.

#4: The King vs. The Emperor

If you have the right group, the Emperor can be fun, because you have to choose another player to give the crown to. But go with the King. The 'gold for yellow buildings' special ability is already weak enough; no need to also make the card help your opponents more than it helps you. Leaving the King in makes the choices harder, and the game more rewarding.

#5: The Bishop vs. The Abbot

Nearly identical characters. The Bishop gets protection from the Warlord or Diplomat, and the Abbot gets a little extra gold. Go with the Bishop. The Abbot's ability can fail too often, if there's a tie for most gold, or if you have the most gold. The Bishop also makes for a more interesting interaction with the Warlord or Diplomat, as players may choose the Bishop just to protect themselves. And interaction between the roles is good.

#6: Merchant vs. Alchemist

Both of these guys get lots of money, but I side with the merchant for one simple reason: The Alchemist doesn't get the green district bonus. That makes the green districts the only districts that don't have a bonus role, which makes them less appealing. Again, this is to create more tension in the role selection - if you have a lot of greens, should you take the Merchant, or is that too obvious?

#7: Navigator vs. Architect

Both are very powerful cards. The Architect gives you bonus cards and lets you build up to 3 districts, while the Navigator gives you a huge bonus - up to 6 gold on your turn! - except that you can't build anything. The Navigator makes a nice replacement for the Magician, as a way to get back in the game if you run out of cards. For this one, you really have to consider how long you want the game to be. The Architects makes the game go faster; the Navigator makes it go slower. I think I favor the Architect. If you use the Navigator, I think I'd recommend using the Magician as well, instead of the Wizard. That creates steady growth and more stable strategy.

#8: Warlord vs. Diplomat

The Diplomat is a great update to the Warlord. He gives the owning player a benefit, rather than simply screwing over an opponent, and he doesn't slow down the game by permanently destroying districts. I recommend the Diplomat. Replacing someone's 6-value building with a 1-value building is almost the same as destroying it, anyway.

#9: Queen vs. Artist

The Queen has an interesting special ability, as you must predict where the King will be. In an 8-player game, by picking randomly, there's a 1/4 chance that the Queen's ability will be useful. That's not very good. In smaller games, the probability is a little better (if you assume that SOMEONE will choose the King) but not by much. Add to that the lack of any other special ability on her part, and she makes a lousy choice. Her only benefit is that she comes last in initiative, which may be useful if you want to build a big building without anyone screwing with you.
The Artist, on the other hand, has a useful ability, allowing him to essentially convert extra gold to VP. He also gives players with 6 or 7 districts a way to score more points without immediately ending the game. The Artist isn't an amazing character, but he's sure better than the Queen.

Summary:
*Witch, Thief, *Wizard, King, Bishop, Merchant, Architect, *Diplomat, *Artist.

4 expansion characters and 5 basic characters, that's a good mix. Of course, the perfect mix depends on your gaming group, and that's what's great about Citadels. Just based on the new characters alone, the Dark City is a worthy expansion and improvement to Citadels, that patches a few lasting holes while introducing some new ideas.
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Matt Albritton
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I have to strongly disagree with including the Witch in the game. It has brought our games to a standstill. Why would you ever pick anything else? If I want to be the Merchant, better to pick the Witch and bewitch the Merchant. If I want to be the Architect, better to pick the Witch and bewitch the Architect. Yes, you are taking a chance that someone else actually picks the role you want, but if you pick the "actual" role you want, you are taking no less of a chance of being bewitched. So the Witch was the role that was ALWAYS taken first in our games. At least with the Assassin, you would only take it when you want to play defense, or go first that round, otherwise, you may need to take another role for its special ability. The Witch gets around this problem by becoming any other character you want. We will never play with it again.

I completely agree with the Diplomat choice. With the Diplomat, if you want to get that big 6 cost building and give your opponent a 1 cost in return, then you have to pay that player 5 gold! Sometimes, it is great to just trade buildings of equal cost and break up a player's 5 color bonus (especially if that building gives you the 5 color bonus). It doesn't just allow someone to randomly hose another player (possibly delaying the game) and pay the bank like the Warlord can be used to do.

The Artist sounds like a great choice as well. But we rarely have enough players to include the Artist. When we do have that many, we usually break up into two tables and play different things. But maybe we can try it sometime.
 
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Mike Betzel
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One other benefit to the diplomat: you can exchange buildings even when someone has built their eighth. The warlord can destory buildings but once someone has their eighth building down (trigging game end at the end of the round) you can't destroy any of their buildings. The diplomat gives you one last chance to get some screwage in there
 
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Barry Figgins
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I think the answer lies in the risk of choosing the Witch. Depending on the game's size, it's more risky to take the Witch, depending on how many roles are hidden each round. However, I still don't think I'd ever take the Assassin. In a large game, a murdered player has to essentially sit the entire round out, doing nothing for 20 minutes while the other players play the game. At least a bewitched character gets to respond to her number. In a smaller game, the risk involved with the Witch makes her role more interesting to choose - an Assassin who can assassinate herself. I don't see how it would bring the game to a standstill, since it actually keeps more resources flowing through the game than the Assassin.
 
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Would a random selection work ??(obviously like-with-like values).


Could you even have a completely random selection + random assignment of Order number? (so even the Assassin's '1' could change) .... possibly a whole new ballgame.

I feel urges coming on. .....ninja ninja ninja
 
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I have a question: what happens when the emperor gets killed by the assassin??? Does he get to use his power ( like the king does ) and "crown" someone else???
thanks
 
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Quote:
I have to strongly disagree with including the Witch in the game. It has brought our games to a standstill. Why would you ever pick anything else?


Exactly my thinking!

Quote:
I think the answer lies in the risk of choosing the Witch. Depending on the game's size, it's more risky to take the Witch, depending on how many roles are hidden each round. However, I still don't think I'd ever take the Assassin. In a large game, a murdered player has to essentially sit the entire round out, doing nothing for 20 minutes while the other players play the game. At least a bewitched character gets to respond to her number. In a smaller game, the risk involved with the Witch makes her role more interesting to choose - an Assassin who can assassinate herself. I don't see how it would bring the game to a standstill, since it actually keeps more resources flowing through the game than the Assassin.


The risk of bewitching the wrong character isn't a risk at all. There are only two face down cards, unless in a 2 players game, and since the witch is often chosen by the first player, that player will also know which is the first face down card. So you have one chance in eight or nine to fail with the witch. Worst case scenario: 2 chances in 8 or 9 to fail (if you're not first or last).

The only point I agree is that with the witch there's more gold in play which helps out the thief a bit.
If you want to be more forgiving to victims, paste the hospital ability to assassin's targets.
If you want the game not to drag that long, play till six districts or split into two smaller groups.

Bery, I have to disagree on some points.

- Mage: is more straightforward than the wizard, which is always a plus. Stealing someone elses cards in the final turn is a very powerful ability. Even in mid-game, it effectively robs the player of his turn. A less powerful character like the mage is needed if you wanna go unnoticed. The wizard and arhictect are too useful together

- Diplomat: at first a very good update for the warlord, but after playing a few games, I'm not sure if I prefer the diplo. He makes gameplay more chaotic and makes it harder to hold on to expensive districts, devaluating the cards. The warlord is more simple and more elegant. If you wanna boost the warlord, you can try giving him the cemetary ability for free and replace the cemetary by the great wall.

Quote:
Replacing someone's 6-value building with a 1-value building is almost the same as destroying it, anyway.


Not true. You effectively give a pile of money in return which the robbed player can use next turn to build omething fancy. Destroying a card otoh deprives the player from finishing his city and robs him from bonus points. You can rob a colour bonus but the diplomat can't rob the bonus for finishing.

My other reproach is that you could as well spend the money on building something fancy (and be one district closer to finishing) than to upgrade a district. The same holds true for the artist. When I have a pile of gold, I prefer to build expensive (and pick the assassin or thief) or build fast (with the architect).

- Queen: very original but too weak, agreed. Try adding the Chinese variant from faidutti's site to the queen instead of the king: http://www.faidutti.com/index.php?Module=mesjeux&id=328&fich...

This can be very useful when the queen player is last in line; simply switch the order and you become 2nd to draw. It allows her to decide whether characters are passed to the left or right. What I like about this ability, save the original concept, is how it interferes with her default power. The more players you have, the less likely it is that the queen will get her gold, but the more useful it becomes to change order.

The queen can be used with 3 or 4 players. In that case, she must sit to the left of the king to get her gold.

- Artist: never seen him being useful. He weakens the warlord (by upgrading cheap districts, making them less likely to be destroyed) and begs to get his upgraded cards stolen by the diplomat. Better save the gold for next turn and build an extra card.



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Kubigaruma wrote:
I have to strongly disagree with including the Witch in the game. It has brought our games to a standstill. Why would you ever pick anything else? If I want to be the Merchant, better to pick the Witch and bewitch the Merchant. If I want to be the Architect, better to pick the Witch and bewitch the Architect. Yes, you are taking a chance that someone else actually picks the role you want, but if you pick the "actual" role you want, you are taking no less of a chance of being bewitched. So the Witch was the role that was ALWAYS taken first in our games. At least with the Assassin, you would only take it when you want to play defense, or go first that round, otherwise, you may need to take another role for its special ability. The Witch gets around this problem by becoming any other character you want. We will never play with it again.
As the bewitched, you don't get a chance to build. As the Witch, that may be good so that you get to build

I believe the Witch is immune to being thieved

If you're playing a turn where the character you want was (possibly) taken by someone else, then you still get to choose it via the Witch
 
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