Citadels – learn how to play with

By: Dennis B. B. Taylor

Welcome to the World of Citadels!

Imagine being the ruler of a magnificent city, where you get to make it flourish and prosper. That’s exactly what you’ll experience in Citadels – a game where each player takes on the role of a city leader, striving to make their city the most prestigious and prosperous of them all.

Getting Started

Let’s dive into the exciting world of Citadels! As the game begins, you’ll receive four district cards, two gold coins, and a helpful game card. Oh, and don’t forget, one lucky player will be randomly chosen to possess the coveted “Crown” card. This card brings some special advantages, so keep your fingers crossed!


How a game round works

During a round of the game, there are two main phases to go through. First, we, the players, take turns choosing a character in a clockwise direction. The player who holds the crown card gets to go first. After choosing the characters, we then take turns playing based on the order of the character card numbers.

1- Choosing our characters

The eight character cards are mixed up and placed face down. Some cards are set aside and won’t be used in this round, while others are left face up. From the remaining cards, we get to pick our character for the round.

When you’re playing the game, the player who has the crown gets all the remaining character cards. They secretly pick one card and place it face down in front of themselves. Then they pass the deck of cards to the person on their left, who also does the same, and it continues like that. After the last player has taken one of the last two cards, they put the last card face down with the cards that were discarded at the beginning of the round.

Here’s a table that shows how many cards are discarded and at what stages of the game for different numbers of players:

Number of Players Cards Discarded Face Up Before Character Selection Card Discarded Face Down Before Character Selection Card Discarded Face Down After Character Selection
4 2* 1 1
5 1* 1 1
6 0 1 1
7 0 1 1**

* The King should not be one of the cards that are shown face up. If the King card is drawn, it will be immediately replaced with another card. There is no issue if the King card is the one discarded face down.

** With 7 players, the last player on the right side of the King receives only one character card. Then, they take the card that the first player discarded, choose one of the two cards, and discard the other one face down.

2- Turns of the players

I am the player with the crown and it is my responsibility to call the characters in the order of their numbers. Every time I call a character, the player who had chosen that character reveals their character card, takes their turn, and puts their character card in the discard pile. If no one has chosen that character, then the next character is called.

So, here’s how it works: Instead of going in the usual order, we take turns in a different way, based on the character cards we picked. Once everyone has had their turn, we collect and shuffle the eight character cards for the next round.

When it’s my turn, I have a few choices:

1. I can grab two gold coins from the bank.

2. I can draw two district cards from the deck, look at them, choose one to keep, and get rid of the other.

Just to be clear, if I have special cards that tell me to draw more cards, like an Architect or a Wizard, I have to take them directly from the deck without getting to choose.

You know what’s really cool? In this game, you get to do all sorts of fun stuff! Let me break it down for you:

First, you gotta pay attention to your city and the cards in it. When it’s your turn, you can play one of your district cards in your city. Just pay the amount shown on the card to the bank, and boom, it’s yours! But here’s the thing, you can only have one of each type of district in your city. No duplicates allowed!

But wait, there’s more! Each character in the game has a special power that you can use during your turn. Super cool, right?

Let me tell you about one of the characters, the Assassin. This dude is sneaky! You get to choose any other character to “murder.” Don’t worry, it’s just a game! The player who has the Assassin has to keep quiet when their character is called. They only reveal their card at the end of the turn and say, “Yep, I got murdered, so I gotta pass my turn.”

Number 2 – The Thief: I can tell you who I’m stealing from. When that player reveals themselves, I take all their gold coins. But I can’t steal from the Assassin or the character they’ve killed.

Number 3 – The Magician: I have some special abilities. During my turn, I can choose to do one of two things:

– I can swap all the cards in my hand with all the cards in another player’s hand. Even if I don’t have any cards, I can still take theirs.

– I can take some cards from my hand and put them back in the deck. Then, I draw the same number of new cards.

Hey there! If you’re aiming to rule over a glorious city, just like a king, then this is the card for you. As the King, you’ll be showered with the riches of the noble districts in your city. For every yellow district you own, I’ll give you a shiny gold coin. Plus, you’ll get to wear the prestigious Crown card and be the one who gets to call the shots and choose your character first. If you’re already the King, don’t worry, you’ll get to keep the crown until someone else takes it from you or you get assassinated. Speaking of which, if you do get assassinated, you’ll have to sit out for a turn. But don’t worry, at the end of the round, you can reveal your true identity as the assassinated King and claim the crown card.

If you’d rather take a more peaceful route, then the Bishop card might be your cup of tea. As the Bishop, you’ll earn a gold coin for every blue religious district you own. And the best part? You’ll be protected from those sneaky attacks by the Condottiere.

Now, if you prefer to dominate the trade routes and make piles of gold, then the Merchant card is where it’s at. Choose between two gold coins or drawing a card, and to sweeten the deal, I’ll give you an extra gold coin. On top of that, for every green commercial district you have, you’ll earn even more gold coins. It’s like having your own money-making machine!

7- Being an Architect gives me the advantage of choosing between the practicality of receiving two gold coins or the excitement of drawing a card. Not only that, but I also get the bonus of drawing two extra district cards. To top it all off, I have the freedom to build up to three districts during my turn, giving me even more control over the development of my city.

8- As a Condottiere, I have a unique ability to profit from the military districts in my city. For each red district in my city, I receive a shiny gold coin. But that’s not all – at the end of my turn, I have the power to launch an attack on another city and destroy a district of my choosing. And get this – if the district I want to destroy has a cost of 1, it’s absolutely free for me! If it’s a higher-cost district, I can destroy it by paying its cost minus one. So for example, if the district costs 2, I only need to pay 1 coin. I can even attack my own city if I see fit. However, remember that I can’t attack a fully developed city with eight districts. I may be a fierce warrior, but I have my limits!

* You can do these things whenever you want during your turn. For instance, you can take money from your districts before you build, if you need the money. Or you can take the money after you build, if the new district makes you money. But you have to collect all the money from your districts at the same time. If you take the money before you build, you won’t get money for the district you’re building.

Citadels - learn how to play with

The End of the Game

Hey there! So, here’s the deal. When you’re playing this game, things get pretty interesting towards the end. You know why? Well, because when one of the players manages to build their eighth and final district, it’s like a signal that the game is coming to a close. Exciting, right?

Now, don’t worry, it’s not just a sudden ending. In fact, when someone builds their eighth district, the other players still get a chance to take their turns. But here’s the catch – once everyone finishes their turns, the game is officially over. That’s when the real fun begins!

Now, let’s talk about points. At the end of the game, each player tallies up their points to see who comes out on top. Here’s how it works:

  • First off, you gotta calculate the total construction cost of all the districts you’ve built in your city. That’s an important number, so make sure to keep track of it.
  • Next, if your city includes districts of five different colors, you get a bonus of 3 points! It’s like a little reward for adding some variety to your cityscape.
  • And here’s something pretty cool – if you were the first player to put down your eighth district, you get an extra 4 points. That’s right, you’re a trendsetter!
  • But hey, don’t worry if you weren’t the first to finish. If you still managed to build all eight of your districts, you’ll get a nice bonus of 2 points. It’s not as big as the first player’s bonus, but hey, it’s something!

So there you have it, my friend. That’s how you wrap things up in this game. Keep an eye on those points, build your city wisely, and who knows? Maybe you’ll come out victorious!

Citadels - learn how to play with


Let’s mix it up: Instead of playing in eight districts, how about trying a shorter game with only seven or even six districts? This tweak works especially well if you have six or seven players and don’t want the game to drag on for too long.

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