Note: this is a review of the current edition of Citadels produced by Fantasy Flight Games. With the recent acquisition of FFG by Asmodee North America, two new versions of Citadels will be released in the coming weeks. Those versions may be slightly different from the FFG edition that is reviewed below.
Citadels is a fantastic card game that blends together several different game mechanics, making for a well-rounded gaming experience without tedious rules or confusing interpretations. The basic play of Citadels consists of drafting character cards that confer different powers, which helps players build their city districts. The player with the most impressive city at the end of the game wins.
Rounds begin with everyone claiming a specific character, and turns are taken in order of the rank number denoted on those character cards. In addition to choosing a character, on each turn a player may either draw two cards from the District Deck and keep one, or they may take two gold. A player may also purchase and build up to one district, and use their character’s power as appropriate. Sounds simple enough, but once you dive into things you’ll find on each turn there is a wealth of options to consider and a number of different ways you can influence the game.
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Codenames: Pictures is a word-association party game in which players take on the roles of spies racing to uncover secret locations and contact fellow agents. But care must be taken when decoding the clues given by your spymaster, as a mistake could lead to a blunder involving innocent bystanders, giving the advantage to a hostile agent, or putting your team at the mercy of an assassin!
The game is played across a grid of twenty unique picture cards taken from a deck of 140. Each picture card corresponds to a location where agents might lurk – friendly or otherwise. At the beginning of the game, players divide into two teams: red and blue. Each team elects a Spymaster, who gives clues to help their team home in on hidden allies. Victory goes to the team that first makes contact with all the agents of their own color. But the team that goes first must also find one additional person – the shifty Double Agent.
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Dragonwood is a delightful little adventure card game where players challenge creatures from myth and fantasy in order to secure the most valuable treasures in the land. With great risk comes great reward, so only the craftiest (and luckiest) adventurers will be able to emerge unscathed from the dark, dank forest of Dragonwood!
With simple card- and dice-based mechanics and game play that conjures memories of Uno and Gin Rummy, Dragonwood is really easy to pick up and start questing with right out of the box. The components include two decks of colorful cards (separated into Adventurer and Dragonwood decks) and a handful of custom dice, the latter of which represent the “actions” of the brave heroes and heroines. Action dice are obtained through the clever play of Adventurer cards, and with these dice, the players will confront random encounters from the Dragonwood deck and decide how best to face down the creatures they’ve come across.
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Quoridor is an elegant puzzle of a game for two or four players where each move can have proliferous and unexpected consequences. In short, each player must attempt to build obstacles in the path of the other player’s pawn without hindering their own advancement across the board.
The objective is simple: get your pawn to the other side of the board. The play is nearly as simple. You may either move your pawn one square in any direction or place a wall – not both. Walls must be placed so they line up with two intersections on the board, and also so they will not completely block all paths of your opponent to your own side of the board. Those are the full rules of the game, and you now know how to play Quoridor! The game’s depth, however, comes not from the complexity of its rules, but instead from the multitude of options a player has on their turn.
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Code Master is another great logic-puzzle game from ThinkFun where one or more players must put on their problem-solving hats to win. The goal of Code Master is for players to move their Avatars along the proper path from the start to the end Portal while picking up Power Crystals along the way. There is only one “right” path through each map, and that path must be built using a specific sequence of actions by each player. The game does a great job of presenting intriguing puzzles to solve with basic programming logic, slowly escalating from the easy puzzles all the way up to the brain-bendingly difficult ones.
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