We picked this game up last week and gave it a bash last night. Just a two player newbie session, husband v wife, to dip our toes in the water. Having read various summaries, we thought this maybe similar to San Juan, which we both love. But after reading the rules and playing a couple of rounds, it became clear that the building aspect is basically the only similarity.
It’s always unnerving playing a new game fresh out of the box, especially with no experienced gamers around. The rules of Citadels are simple and clear, however, as a newbie; you don’t know the strategies, the intricacies, the best characters or if anything you’re trying will work. This was great fun last night as we were pouring over the rules, the characters and the buildings hoping that we were making the best of our hands.
The character selection round we found to be a nice game dynamic and very entertaining. Should we be nasty and take assassins or thieves? Or be productive and take bishops, architects, etc. As we could take two characters per round, we were spending plenty of time selecting and second guessing which characters we'd gone for, great fun!
I started by building religious buildings, but my wife soon sussed my plans and was thieving my riches as she knew I was choosing bishop a lot. So I switched to noble and market buildings too and managed to deflect the selection of assassin and thief for the remainder of the game. Meanwhile, my wife was mixing it up, but was selecting warlord quite a lot. She seemed to be a little behind in the building stakes, but she did destroy some of my cheaper buildings in the process.
I paid this little mind as I saw this as an opportunity to build more expensive buildings in their place. Little did I know that this would lead to my downfall. A round started with 6 buildings a piece, I decided to boost my gold in the first turn and build an expensive building with my second turn. As I chose the king and bishop to do this, I made my turns in quick succession, and I was pleased with myself. With my wife choosing the market trader and warlord, she took her turns after me.
With the buildings now 7 - 6 in my favour, my rival built a cheap building with the market trader and recouped her gold with several green buildings in her city. The warlord took the reigns and built a five gold building and then delivered a fatal blow. She destroyed my harbour and as the 8th building had been built, she ended the game with my dilapidated city down to 6 buildings, the scoundrel!
I nearly turned the air blue as my cunning wife delivered her master stroke with a wee grin on her face. We briefly totted the scores; however, it was obvious that my city was falling way short of the magnificent city across the table. So I consolidated with a glass of wine, ah well, there’s always a silver lining