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In last months Counter one of the “re-counter” games was Citadels. Paul from our group submitted an article stating that the game di-polarised the group like no other and he wasn’t expecting to see it hit the table anytime soon. So to prove him wrong we brought it out. To be fair we had the 3 fans playing tonight (Tel, Paul and Steve) with only Andy representing the dissenting half of the group.
Andys major gripe with the game was that every time he’d played it the same player had been hit with either the Assassin or the Thief on multiple occasions effectively knocking them out of contention. Hence we replaced the Thief with the alternative role the Tax Collector. We also played a couple of other tweaks apparently suggested by the designer Bruno Faidutti, one to end the game at 7 buildings, and secondly to reverse the order of play if the King doesn’t move. It has been over 2 years since this game has been played within the group (though I suspect Steve has been moonlighting as he was very familiar with the rules), so most of us needed a recap and blindly run through the first part of the game.
The Merchant and Magician were obviously very shy, spending the first 3 turns as part of the 3 cards removed from the hand. With the Tax collector in the game everyone was keen to spend all their money when they built. From what I can remember the Assassin killing the Bishop was a fairly traditional opening gambit. Obviously Tel forgot this as he took the Bishop in the first round and was forced to watch everyone else build. The second round proved that the group has moved on a little in the last 2 years, as the Assassin was not chosen by any of the 4 players, something that would never have happened in previous games. Tel caught up on buildings thanks to the architect. Andy was obviously keen to keep the game moving, every time he was King he would call out the roles, allow the player to identify themselves, then he would try to call the next role, not allowing the players the opportunity to do anything. Tel managed to get ahead in the building stakes thanks to another round as Architect, though they were all small buildings. Steve was a building behind but 5 points ahead. Paul was level with Steve on buildings but behind on points. The Architect then hid for a couple of turns preventing anyone from pushing for an early finish. Tels ability to end the game a turn later marked him as a target and he ended the round without cards (Magician), having spent up and minus a building (Warlord). Steve was the first and indeed only player to build 7 buildings. Most of us had managed to get 1 of each coloured buildings including Steve. This gave him a comfortable win, Paul claimed second from Tel leaving Andy to bring up the rear.
We really need to get this to the table much more often. The tweaks to the rules helped make it enjoyable for all, the King didn’t move for the first 3 turns, where this would’ve previously hurt Steve, giving him last choice each time, the reversing the order meant he got second choice on one of the occasions, keeping him in the game. The introduction of the Tax Collector radically changes players strategy compared to when the Thief is in the game. With Andy scoring the game a 7 we may have a convert, now if only we could get Oggie and Boog to want to play.