Radio Review #121a – Citadels (2016 edition)



(2017 – Windrider Games)


“Who are you?….Who, who, who, who?….”


Windrider Games recently published multiple versions of Bruno Fadutti’s popular Citadels card game. Citadels Classic includes the basic cards and components from the game’s original 2000 release, while the Citadels 2016 deluxe edition includes upgraded components and art design, the Dark City expansion (originally released in 2004), and introduces new roles and buildings unique to this edition of the game. While I’ve already compiled an overview of how to play the game in my review for Citadels Classic, I wanted to take a look at the 2016 deluxe edition and point out the main differences between the two, as well as introduce some of the new cards. So if you want to learn how the game works and plays, check out my previous review of Citadels Classic. Now, let’s first take a look at the components. I’ll reference the cards and components found in Citadels Classic on the left side, and those found in Citadels 2016 on the right.





– Role cards (8 in Classic, 27 in Deluxe)


– Character tokens (not included in Classic)


– District cards (68 in Classic, 84 in Deluxe)


– Crown (card in Classic, miniature in Deluxe)


– Warrant and Threat markers (not included in Classic)


– Gold coins (cardboard in Classic, plastic in Deluxe)


– Summary cards




I. Role Cards:

The first thing you’ll notice about the new Role cards is not only are they much larger (tarot-sized) than those found in Classic, but they also include much different artwork. The art design is a bit more light and vibrant than those found in the original game, and reminiscent of the art style found in a Days of Wonder release (Quadropolis, Five Tribes, etc). The Deluxe edition also includes many more Role cards. The Classic edition can accommodate 7 players, while the new deluxe version goes up to 8. To house this extra player, the game now includes a 9th set of roles. As I’ve already covered the original 8 roles in Citadels Classic, I’ll be taking a look at the new roles included in this edition, and how they work. Each role tied to a number is a slight variation of the powers and abilities found on the other two roles of that number. Note that when playing a game of Citadels, only one of each role number is used. The rulebooks comes with preset options of role sets to use. Or players can choose the roles they wish to use each game.

Also, since games can include numerous combinations of roles, the deluxe edition comes with a Character token for each of the 27 roles in the game. Once players have chosen which roles will be included in their session, they’ll take a Character token for each of the roles they’re using. This helps to reference which roles are being used in the game, as well as allowing the King (or the Patrician, or one chosen by the Emperor) to call out the roles by name instead of by number.




Role #1

The Witch – This old hag lets you bewitch and take on the role of another. After this player has collected resources (either drawing District cards or gaining gold), she’ll name another role in the game. After that character’s player has collected resources, his turn ends immediately, then the Witch will resume her turn using the abilities of that role, as well as building districts.

The Magistrate – This proper gentleman (who is most likely taking notes at the Renaissance Spiel Faire) is given the set of three Warrant markers when revealed. Two of these Warrants are blank, while the other is signed. During his turn, the Magistrate will hand out these three Warrants to three other characters face-down, so that only the Magistrate knows which player he’s given the signed one to. If that player controlling that character chooses to build a District on their turn, the Magistrate can reveal the signed Warrant in order to confiscate the District card, placing it into his own city for free.




Role #2

The Spy – When revealed, this nonchalant snoop gets to pick another player and name one of the five District types (nobles, trade, religious, military, or unique). He then gets to look at that player’s hand of District cards and steals 1 gold from that player for each District card that matched the type he named. He’ll also draw the same number of District cards from the draw pile for each matching card.

The Blackmailer – When revealed, this vile mistress has two Threat tokens in which to give face-down to two other characters. One of the markers contains a unmarked lace on the opposite side, while the other contains a flowered lace. If a player has been given one of these Threat markers, he’ll take his turn as normal, but after collecting resources he must make a choice of whether to bribe the Blackmailer by giving her half of his gold rounded down, or reveal the Threat token. If the revealed Threat token contains the flowered lace, he must give her all of his gold.




Role #3

The Wizard – This Alec Guinessy Gandalf guy is allowed to look at another player’s hand of District cards on his turn. He can take 1 card from the player’s hand and can either immediately pay its cost to place it into his city, or can simply add it to his hand of cards. If paying to place it in his city, that does not count as the one District card he can build per turn. He’d still be allowed to build another on his turn. Also, the Wizard can build a District card even if he already has an identical version of the card already in his city. Normally, this is not allowed. But I mean come on, who’s gonna tell Gandalf “no“?

The Seer – When revealed, the Seer gets to well….“see” the districts of other players. The player will randomly select 1 card from each player and add them to her hand. Then she’ll give 1 card from her hand back to each player that she took from. She also has the ability of being able to build 2 districts at the end of her turn instead of the normal 1 building limit.




Role #4

The Emperor – Normally, the #4 Role (King in the original game) takes the crown, which allows him to choose a role first at the beginning of the following round. However, the Emperor isn’t necessarily concerned about owning the crown as much as he is about owning the coin. When revealed, the Emperor receives the crown, but chooses another player to give it to. He then chooses to either take 1 gold from that player or 1 District card. As with the King, the Emperor gains a gold for each Noble district card in his city.

The Patrician – Pat the Patrician is similar to the King role in that he also receives the crown. However, instead of gaining 1 gold for each Noble district card in his city, he draws 1 card for each Noble district card.




Role #5

The Abbot – Although he looks more like a Costello, the Abbot is allowed to gain 1 gold from the richest player at any point during his turn. In this way, the Abbot could start his turn as the richest player, spend some money, then take a gold from the now current richest player. The Abbot also receives 1 gold or draws 1 District card for each of the Religious districts in his city.

The Cardinal – When the Cardinal decides to add a district to his city, if he doesn’t have enough gold to build it, he can take that gold from another player. Though for each gold he takes, he’ll need to pay that player back in an equal number of District cards. The Cardinal also draws 1 District card for each Religious district in his city.




Role #6

The Alchemist – The Alchemist is unique in that she essentially allows the player to build a district for free, as long as she had the gold to pay for it. At the end of her turn, all gold she used to add a District card into her city is returned to her.

The Trader – This bartering chap allows one to build as many Trade districts as he wishes on his turn. He’ll also gain a gold for each Trade district in his city.




Role #7

The Navigator – This pirate queen swashbuckles the seven seas in search of treasure and plunder. When revealed, the player can choose to gain either 4 gold or draw 4 District cards. However, the Navigator can not build districts on her turn.

The Scholar – When revealed, the Scholar filters through old tomes in the library to find the best building schematics. On her turn, she’ll draw 7 District cards, choose 1 of them to keep, then shuffle the remaining 6 back into the draw deck. She’ll also be allowed to build 2 District cards on her turn instead of 1.




Role #8

Diplomat – The sneaky Diplomat gets to exchange one of his built Districts with another player’s District, though he’ll need to pay the difference in gold cost to that player. He’ll also gain 1 gold for every Military district he has in his city.

Marshal – The Marshal is allowed to steal a built District from another player’s city. The limitation here is that the District can’t exceed a cost of 3, and the Marshall must give gold to the player equal to the cost of the District card. As with the Warlord and the Diplomat, the Marshal gains 1 gold for every Military district in his city.




Role #9 (only used in 8-player games)

The Queen – Behind every great man, is a great woman. When revealed, the Queen will gain 3 gold if she’s sitting beside the player who revealed the #4 role character (King, Emperor, or Patrician).

The Artist – The player who’s taken the role of the Artist can spruce up her districts by making them more valuable. On her turn, the Artist can place 1 gold on one of her District cards (max of two per turn). Each District card can contain 1 gold each, and these are permanently attached to the card. In this way, the District is worth 1 extra victory point at the end of the game.

The Tax Collector – If the Tax Collector is one of the characters being used in the game, each player will place 1 gold on the Tax Collector’s character token each time they build a district in their city. If the Tax Collector is revealed, that player receives all the gold from the character token.




II. District Cards:

While Citadels Classic included 68 District cards (54 basic districts and 14 unique districts), the deluxe version of the game includes an additional 16 unique districts. When setting up a game, players will either pre-select or randomly select 14 of the 30 unique district cards and shuffle them with the other 54 basic cards to create the District draw deck. While I’m not going to cover all of the 16 new unique cards, let’s take a look at some of these and how they work:

The Monument – This district can not be added to a city if that city already contains 5 or more districts. The Monument is worth 4 Victory Points at the end of the game, and counts as 2 districts when determining if the player has reached 7 district cards to complete his city.

The Secret Vault – You’ll notice that this district has not cost. That’s because it can not be played into a player’s city during the game. Instead, at the end of the game, the player reveals the Secret Vault from his hand and is awarded 3 Victory Points. The Secret Vault can create a lot of back and forth once it’s been stolen from another player and multiple players know how has the Secret Vault in hand.

The Theater – The Theater is a powerful district that contains an ongoing effect. Once all roles have been selected (and before revealing these roles), the owner of the Theater can blindly choose to exchange his role card with another player. Once exchanged, players will begin to reveal their roles in numerical order. The Theatre is worth 6 Victory Points at the end of the game.





I’ve shared most of my thoughts on Citadels as a game in my previous review of Classic, so I’ll try to stick to the differences between the two version, here. First off, there’s an obvious upgrade in components of this 2016 deluxe version versus the Classic edition. While not needed, the chunky Crown miniature has a much more lasting presence on the table than the Crown card. Also, the plastic gold coins are far superior to the cardboard punched tokens, and it‘s nice having the rule summary fit on one side of a card together, as opposed to the front and back. The tarot-sized role cards are a nice touch and include beautiful full sized, borderless artwork, as do the district cards. It’s also worth noting that for those with colorblind issues, each district card now includes a separate icon for each district type.

Visual and component aesthetic preferences aside, one advantage that this deluxe version has over the original is the amount of replayability. With 27 roles overall, players have a ton of options in the numerous combinations in putting together 8 roles for a game (9 in an eight-player game). And since each of the three roles of a particular numbered set contains comparable abilities, it’s a smooth transition when switching roles in and out each game. The inclusion of 16 additional Unique District cards furthermore increase player’s options from session to session. Only 14 Unique districts are used each game, but now players have 30 cards to choose from when setting up a game, rather than using the same original 14 cards each time.

There’ll always be a sense of nostalgia in playing the game in its original format, with that familiar art style that many have come to love and associate with Citadels over the years. However, as someone that now owns both copies of the game, I find that I’ll rarely return to Classic. Maybe when teaching the game for the first time, or when traveling (as Classic is pocket-sized). But there are just so much more to explore with the deluxe version. While I still lend myself towards the original art style, there’s no denying that the artwork in Citadels 2106 is breathtakingly gorgeous. But even if it was merely acceptable, the addition of 19 more roles and 16 more Unique districts are worth the price. There’s an exclusive feel to each game, with the various combinations of roles and unique districts that can be made. I’ve even though it would be neat to do some sort of draft at the beginning of the game, allowing players to choose a particular role of the three available to be used in that session. The component upgrades only strengthen the deluxe version’s appeal, but it’s really the extra roles and Unique districts that I think set the two versions apart. Either way, Citadels is an amazing classic in our industry. And one that should be available on a player’s shelf for any game night, no matter the version.



If you’re near the Wilmington, NC area, feel free to check this game out and more at our community’s FLGS, Cape Fear Games.



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