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Subject: AnalogGamer's Review rss

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matthew dennis
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Build Quality:

As one might expect from Fantasy Flight Games, the quality of the product itself is very high and clearly gives a good feeling of durability and value. The gold pieces and king piece are the perfect size for portability's sake and feel very sturdy while also being light. The box itself is made of rather heavy gauge cardboard for extra protection and the inside is very well designed to fit all the pieces very efficiently. Even after the numerous games this copy has endured, it is no worse for wear.

Theme:

The theme is simple and sensible for the game and is neither a hindrance, nor a distraction, for the gameplay itself. The art is absolutely gorgeous for all of the citadel and character cards that reflect their respective roles very well. The idea of simple city building is well suited to the cards and the diversity of things that you can build give a good feeling of size and respective importance.

Mechanics and Gameplay:

Citadels mechanics are deceptively deep in that it takes a rather simple rule-set and allows the players to set the level of complexity that the game is played at. While luck is involved in the citadel cards you get and what you get drafted, the rest still gives you a good feeling of control over your own destiny and the luck that is present fits in comfortably to keep it from feeling forced or old.

Turns begin with the King from the previous round getting first choice from the available cards for that round and then passing it to each subsequent player in clockwise order in what is best described as a drafting system. This continues until each player has chosen a card and then the king proceeds to call out each of the cards starting with the Assassin(1). Each players turn then consists of only 2 actions. The first is to choose whether to take two gold or to draw two cards and keep one of them. The second action is to pay to build a citadel if the player can. The character cards action can take place at any point during the players turn, which allows players a little bit of greater depth of strategy in how they take their turn. For example, the Bishop(5) card gives you 1 extra gold for each blue colored citadel you have built in your city. So if you build a blue citadel the same turn you were to choose the Bishop, you could get an extra gold out of the play and make your initial selection of the card seem less obvious to the other players that might have been out to get you that turn.

It might seem easy enough to just pick whatever card would reap the greatest rewards for you on the particular turn, but you must always also consider that being predictable carries the risk of falling prey to the numerous character cards that can attack. The Assassin(1), for instance, kills another player and keeps them from taking the turn entirely, on top of the fact that they get to go first. The Thief(2) steals gold, the Magician(3) steals cards and the warlord can even destroy already built districts of other players. These attack cards are balanced, however, by having the first three not giving any guaranteed bonus of gold and thus a lowered ability to actually build up their cities. The Assassin(1) and the Thief(2), must also name another card, and not another player when choosing who to attack. This adds a lot of strategy when choosing those cards as well as it keeps any one person from being picked on or kept out of the game. The king (4) alters the starting player of the draft and other cards like the Architect(7), allow you to draw extra cards and build extra citadels in the same turn. All of the standard character cards are very well balanced overall and reward players who can keep their opponents guessing what their next move might be.

The game is over when the eighth district is built and points are decided by the total worth of the districts in each players city, as well as any bonuses for for finishing first and/or having a citadel of every color. This incentivizes players to take extra care in building their cities and generally helps to suppress people from going all out to be first out.

What we didn't like:

There are just a couple of things that don't strike our fancy that much and most of it has to do with the expansion that is now included with newer copies of the game. The Dark City expansion adds 10 new character cards as well as 14 new citadels to the game that you can use to switch out with some of the other cards in the original for added diversity and to spice things up a bit. Unfortunately, many of the new cards (especially the new character cards), just don't feel quite as natural a fit as the originals do. The Tax collector(2) for example, replaces the Thief(2) and forces any player that builds a district that turn to pay one gold to him. This mechanic seemed only to slow game play and ultimately not generate much, if any, gold for him. The other players would simply become hesitant to build, and instead save up gold for the following turn, or would use all their gold in the initial build which would deny the collector his dues.

Conclusion:

The expansions quirks aside, this is an overall solid game. The checks and balances go a long way to making each and every game we play enjoyable and fair for all players. Blowouts are very rare and the pacing almost always gives you the sense that you have a good shot of winning right up until the very end. This is an excellent game for both beginners to use as a segway to bigger games as well as a cornerstone for the more hardened gamers among us. We just can't recommend this one enough.

For reference, the reason I use the word we throughout this review is because this review was written with the help of my gaming group and has been posted on our website, AnalogGamer.com.
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Thijs Lauwbierkoffie
Netherlands
Amersfoort
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If you select some of the new characters and buildings wisely you can have a great time, but you have to think about how they work together (you need some citadels experience for that). My best game ever was a 5 player game with the Assasin, Thief, Wizard, King, Bishop, Alchemist, Navigator, Diplomat. And the difference between #1 and #5 at the end was only 5 points.

Nice features:

If you choose the navigator you get rich, but you are number 1 target next round for the thief, but the Alchemist then is soooo tempting to pick

Because there is no merchant in play, the green buildings are almost useless and are nice buildings for the Diplomat if he has to give one of his buildingsn away. Green flies over the table the whole game .

The wizard makes it still possible to build 2 buildings in 1 round and end the game if needed, dispite the fact there is no Architect in play.

------

But that said: thanks for this nice review!
 
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Travis Hall
Australia
Brisbane
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Otakutopia wrote:
Unfortunately, many of the new cards (especially the new character cards), just don't feel quite as natural a fit as the originals do.

Well, yeah, of course. The designer put a lot of work into getting the mechanics right, and the powers are a big part of that. If there was any easily-discovered power that actually improved gameplay, it'd be in the case set of characters.

So what is left to optional characters is making gameplay variations, to shake up the game for when it gets a little stale.

(But I'm expanding on your point, not disagreeing with it. It's good that you point this out.)
 
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bruno faidutti
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Wraith wrote:
Otakutopia wrote:
Unfortunately, many of the new cards (especially the new character cards), just don't feel quite as natural a fit as the originals do.

Well, yeah, of course. The designer put a lot of work into getting the mechanics right, and the powers are a big part of that. If there was any easily-discovered power that actually improved gameplay, it'd be in the case set of characters.

So what is left to optional characters is making gameplay variations, to shake up the game for when it gets a little stale.

(But I'm expanding on your point, not disagreeing with it. It's good that you point this out.)


I have to agree with this. I think the really interesting stuff in the expansion is the new buildings, and the way they can change the scoring. I never play with the new characters, except sometimes the Queen or Artist. I usually use some of the new buildings.
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P.D. Magnus
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faidutti wrote:
Wraith wrote:
Otakutopia wrote:
Unfortunately, many of the new cards (especially the new character cards), just don't feel quite as natural a fit as the originals do.

Well, yeah, of course. ...


I have to agree with this. I think the really interesting stuff in the expansion is the new buildings, and the way they can change the scoring. I never play with the new characters, except sometimes the Queen or Artist. I usually use some of the new buildings.


A while ago, we playing a game in which, for several turns, the Assassin player decided on a target haphazardly or even randomly. It was my wife's bad luck to be the target again and again. It left her unable to do anything, which she found really frustrating.

So we recently tried playing with the Witch. Although the Witch is potentially more powerful than the Assassin, it's more strategic. The Witch player hitches their turn to the turn of their target, so nobody picked a target at random. One turn, the player with the Witch opted not to use the power at all; he wanted to build before the Magician, so the Magician couldn't steal his hand - but he wasn't confident enough that there was a Magician to try bewitching.

On the flipside, when a player is bewitched, they still at least get the action part of their turn. Less frustrating than being dead.

So I agree about most of the alternate roles, but I now prefer the Witch to the original Assassin.

Regarding the buildings, we also usually play with several of the alternates.
 
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