Just your regular reminder that BM! is in this Saturday 3rd September at the Bar Convent in York.
Featured game today is an old favourite of mine, Bruno Faidutti’s classic Citadels.
Recognised by many as the greatest game ever designed (*), this is the French designer’s masterpiece. The core mechanics are pretty simple – you use gold to play district cards of varying values from your hand into your ‘city’ (i.e. onto the table in front of you), most points in your city at game end wins.
The genius comes from the other main mechanism of choosing a character each round. There is a card deck of 8 characters (not all of which will be used every round, depending on the number of players) which is passed around the players. When the deck is passed to you, you choose one of the characters, and pass the remainder on.
The characters do two things. Firstly, they each have a special ability, some benign (e.g. getting you extra gold or cards for your hand), some a little more malign…
Secondly, they determine the player order. The Assassin (as you might imagine, one of the more malign characters) always goes first, then the Thief (the good guys come later in the round), and so on.
Players only reveal their character when it’s that character’s turn, i.e. the Assassin can’t say ‘Paul misses his turn’, he has to try to figure out which character Paul might have, then say ‘The King has been assassinated and misses his turn’, hoping that Paul has picked the King.
It’s a clever mechanism that has been re-used in other games since, but not to the same effect as the simple but fascinating Citadels. If you like outguessing your friends while keeping a poker face and enjoy a lot of player interaction, this game is for you.
In truth I wouldn’t play with more than 5 players (the character selection can drag a bit with 6 or 7), but if I’m asked to make up a table of 5 I’ll need a very good reason to turn it down.