Regicide and larceny… oh, and building stuff
Citadels is probably the most “serious” card game we have played yet. At a basic level it’s about a simple process of building parts of a city, but the real juice comes from selecting the character(s) you want to help you each turn, ranging from a thief or assassin to a bishop or king. Each has their own special ability and you need to balance choices that help you and those that scupper your opponents.
The rules are actually straightforward and Miss B quickly got the hang of them. In a two (or three) player game, you get two characters to use each rounds, which I think is probably better than the mainstream rules where you have one, which makes everyone vulnerable to missing a turn. This way, you always have at least one go (though if the other player hits you with both the assassin and the thief it could be pretty miserable). The drafting mechanism for picking characters is great fun and Miss B really enjoyed choosing who was going to help her each time — though in our first game she got massively fixated on the King.
Something worth noting is that this, compared to other card games we have played, can be a fairly long game. Our first play was close to an hour (later games have been getting quicker), though it did manage to hold Miss B’s attention very well throughout. We both ended up with good looking cities (the artwork, by the way, is great, though some of the characters are a little grotesque) but I won by quite some margin.
A few hours later, Miss B requested a rematch, which is always a good sign. The end scoreline was similar to before, but she managed to stuff me nicely in one turn with neat use of the thief. In fact, we have so far played this a couple more times and, while I have still won each time, it is getting closer and Miss B is growing in cunning and sneakiness. A couple of times she has made impressive use of the thief to stuff me royally, and at least part of that is due to her developing a pretty good feel for the game rather than blind luck. I’m looking forward to more games of this as B comes closer to beating me regularly. I’m already having to think carefully about my choices.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 5½): “I liked everything about it.”
The game: Citadels (Fantasy Flight Games), 2 to 8 players aged 14+. (14?! I have no idea where that came from. This is a far less complex, deep or maturely themed game than many games we have with a lower recommended age. I can feel a post on this subject coming up…)