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Session Report for May 4, 2000 (by Dave Bernazzani) - Gaming with the MVGA
Roll Call: Dave, Walter Hunt, Greg, Rich, Anton, Louis, Scott
Session Length: 3 hours
Session Details: I decided to take a trip up to the Merrimack Valley Gamers' Association - Walter had been urging me to drop by for some time. It's a bit up-and-out of the way, but it was worth the trip! The guys here were great and after brief introductions we sat down for a couple of games.
Citadels Session Details: Released in German as Ohne Furcht und Adel - I prefer to just use the original French title of Citadels since I can pronounce it better! This is a great little card game of bluff and deduction. It combines some elements of poker with the guessing of rock-paper-scissors (only you have more information to work with and so the "guess" is sometimes easier). Citadels plays 3 to 7 players, and I've played it recently with 7 and it was a blast. This time we had 6 players and so I set about explaining the rules. Each player (starting with the King) takes a character card for the turn. There are eight possible characters - The King, Assassin, Thief, Merchant, Soldier, Preacher, Builder and Magician. Each has special abilities and each character is unique - and during the game you will get to play several (if not all) of these as the situation calls for. The character cards are first looked at by the King who selects a card and passes the rest to the person on their right - then the process is repeated until everyone has chosen a character. You know the character you took, and know what you passed, but never quite know what the next person choose so you have to pay attention and try to deduce what your fellow players might take (mainly based on the game situation and special ability of the cards). The King's duty is to call each character in a specific order -first the Assassin who gets to play their turn and then declare another character to be killed - but that character is unknown at this time and the assassin will not actually know the player who holds the card until that character is called in sequence by the King. Then the Thief is called, who can name any character (except the Assassin and the character killed by the Assassin) to take all gold from - remember you are not choosing a player but rather are naming a character in the hopes that you have deduced the player who has taken it (for example, the player who has a lot of gold in front of them is more likely to take the Builder character as it allows more buildings to be built so the Builder is sometimes an easy target for the Thief). Anyway, this continues from turn to turn - with the new King taking the old King's place (whomever took the King card is the new king and has the privilege of picking a character card first on the next round). Each turn players try to build buildings - in our game we played until one player managed 7 buildings (normally 8 but 7 makes for a slightly shorter game). These buildings cost gold - which is accumulated each turn and by some of the character's special actions. Also, the buildings can be knocked down by the Soldier character so they are never really safe! Anyway, it's not as complex as it sounds... after one game you will be an old hand at this charming little game. It's sometimes loud, often surprising and always fun!
Our game went rather smoothly but I didn't manage to build anything but a couple of strong buildings. There was lots of Soldier action and so plenty of smaller buildings were knocked down (including one of mine early in the game) and at least once I was assassinated when I had a fantastic character move planned... Oh well - it's still such great fun that I can't complain (much!). Anton was clearly a good player - carefully choosing the right character for his situation, building slowly but steadily and avoiding the dreaded Assassin and Thief for much of the game. Greg and I managed to kill and thief our characters in the early stages of the game which stunted our building power quite a bit. Walter did his best Elvis impersonation when he was King and it was quite good! Louis was more regal in his appointment as King and seemed to enjoy the calling of characters as much as I do (for me, it's part of the fun in the game just to bellow out the character names to announce their turns). In the end, Anton was just too strong and managed to build 7 complete buildings and earn a four point bonus for doing so. There was nothing left to do but count up the scores...
Final Scores: Anton=24, Louis=22, Greg=21, Walter=21, Rich=20, Dave=16
Comments: I forgot to get ratings from the rest of the group!! Oh well - everyone seemed to enjoy the game...
Scott came part-way into the game of Citadels. He seemed like a nice guy and I am looking forward to gaming with him soon. When we finished, we had more players than we could seat at a single game so we split into two groups for one last game.