Review: Citadels (2016 edition)

  • January 10, 2017
  • James Skemp
  • review

The following is a review of the 2016 edition of Citadels, received as part of the Amazon Vine program.

A Very Nice Upgrade to the Original Game

I originally purchased Citadels, with The Dark City expansion back in October 2014. I played the game a handful of times and generally enjoyed it, although games pretty consistently took closer to 60 minutes than 20 minutes (the box suggests games take between 20 to 60 minutes). We pretty regularly played with just the original 8 base characters, so the expansion was a welcome addition, but one that we didn’t dig into.

Now, at the beginning of 2017, I’ve learned that Citadels now comes in two editions; a classic edition featuring the original eight characters and a new, 2016 edition, featuring a re-imaging of the game.

Citadels plays two to eight players, with five to six or so being a good spot, from what I’ve experienced. Depending upon the number of players, characters are shuffled with a certain number turned face up and face down, and then, starting with the start player, each person is able to select their character.

In this way the starting player tends to have a good idea of what characters are available, but not who has them. They then guide the round, calling characters from low numbers to high (or more commonly I’ve found, calling out the numbers). Each character has one or more abilities that can be used, and anyone can either take gold or district cards.

The ultimate goal is to use gold to purchase and play district cards, with the game finishing once a player has seven or eight (depending upon players), and the player with the highest total district costs winning.

So now we can cover the differences between the various editions of Citadels that appear to be available for purchase.

First, we have the version of Citadels that includes The Dark City expansion. This game features the original eight characters, plus ten more for a total of 18. There are also 14 new bonus districts, compared with the original version, and denoted by a star. It also includes a special crown marker. This is in a smaller tall box, with cards of equal size, and is out of print.

Next we have the 2016 ‘classic’ edition, which I haven’t purchased this myself, but the expanded edition covers it. This is effectively the original game, without the expansion, and in a larger box.

Lastly we have the new 2016 edition, which I’ve been covering in this review. This edition includes a total of 27 character cards, with all eight from the original edition, plus ten from the expansion, plus nine more new ones. Some of the character cards have actually been re-imagined or tweaked, so it’s still a slightly different experience.

While the district cards are the same size, the character cards are larger, which actually is rather nice. It also includes a plastic crown, that looks like a crown, as well as 27 smaller cardboard pieces denoting the different characters. In pratice the last of these is nice, especially since as noted earlier, remembering the characters/numbers isn’t that easy. However, these might not actually get much use in practice.

Considering the last two as being in print, and the cost of each, if you have any interest in Citadels I’d highly recommend picking up the new, 2016 edition of the game.

As for whether you’d like Citadels, that depends. It’s enjoyable in that it has aspects of a secret role game, but roles are revealed and changed as time goes by. Each character seems pretty balanced, so even if one player is ahead it doesn’t mean the game is necessarily over.

Personally, I find the game quite enjoyable, and the 2016 edition of Citadels to be a definite improvement to the original game. For this reason I give this edition five of five stars.