How To Play: Citadels Classic – Setup, rule summary and strategy

Dive into 'How To Play Citadels' and uncover the essence of this strategic game. Perfect your winning strategy through smart character choices, building a diverse city, and mastering the art of deception. Remember, predicting your opponent's moves can clinch your victory. Now, are you ready to build your way to triumph?


Welcome to your go-to guide on How To Play Citadels! Whether you’re a new player or looking to polish your skills, this guide offers not just a digestible outline of the game rules, but also elite strategies to elevate your gameplay. By understanding both, you’ll deftly navigate the game’s intricate layers and increase your chances of claiming victory.

What’s in the Box

  • 8 Character cards
  • 68 District cards
  • 7 Reference cards
  • 30 Gold coins
  • 1 Wooden king marker
  • 1 Rule book

How To Play Citadels: Rules Summary

Embark on a quest to build your city and claim the throne as you dive into the strategic depths of Citadels. This how-to-play guide will walk you through the essential rules and strategies, making it easy for newcomers to join the fun. Whether you’re plotting as the Thief or building as the Architect, understanding the rules is your first step towards victory.


  1. Shuffle the character cards and district cards separately.
  2. Each player starts with four district cards and two gold coins.
  3. Place the remaining district cards and gold coins within easy reach.
  4. Put the wooden king marker in the center.


  1. Begin each round by shuffling and revealing character cards.
  2. Players secretly choose a character card, determining turn order and special abilities.
  3. In turn order, players may take two gold coins, draw two district cards (keeping one), or use their character’s ability.
  4. Afterward, players can build one district using gold, offering various benefits.
  5. Pass the starting player marker to the left and start a new round.


  1. The game ends when a player builds their eighth district.
  2. Players calculate their points based on their buildings’ values and bonuses.
  3. Extra points are awarded for having eight districts, color variety, and for being the first to complete eight districts.
  4. The player with the highest score is declared the winner.

Special Rules & Conditions

  1. If fewer than seven players are playing, extra character cards are removed each round.
  2. The Warlord can destroy other players’ districts but can’t target the Bishop’s districts.
  3. Building district courts multiple times in the same color rewards the player with a bonus at the end of the game.
  4. Certain characters have game-changing abilities that can turn the tide in your favor. Be mindful and utilize them effectively.

Best Citadels Strategies

Mastering the Art of Character Selection in Citadels

Character selection is vital for Citadels success. Interestingly, good choices evolve as the city-building progresses. Initially, prioritize characters that provide more gold or allow quicker construction – the Merchant and Architect are solid early picks.

Predictive Plays:

  1. Anticipate opponents’ choices; avoid the character likely to be assassinated or stolen from.
  2. Track which characters have been selected in previous rounds to better predict your opponents’ current moves.

Adaptive Selection:

  1. Assess your current buildings and gold; choose a character that compliments your existing resources and strategy.
  2. Be willing to shift strategies based on the characters available to you in each round.

Psychological Warfare:

  1. Bluff by sometimes picking characters that don’t align with your obvious strategy to keep opponents guessing.
  2. Be observant of your opponents’ tendencies and leverage that knowledge to your advantage.

Mastering the Skyline: Building Coordination & Diversification

How to Play Citadels is as much about constructing an impressive city as it is about cunning character selection. When advancing your urban district, consider:

    1. Economic Balance

  1. Optimize your gold income by investing in commercial purple buildings that fund your future moves.
  2. 2. Colorful Portfolio

  3. Diversify to benefit from various color bonuses—the Architect, for one, appreciates such prudence.
  4. 3. Strategic Synchronization

  5. Pair your district development with your character roles. Match the King with noble districts to maximize rewards.
  6. 4. Threat Assessment

  7. Deploy less conspicuous buildings to stay under the radar of warlords and thieves.
  8. 5. Completion Bonus

  9. Hasten to complete your district count for a hefty point bonus, but never at the cost of strategic diversity.

Execution is crucial when How to Play Citadels—a well-rounded, adaptable city is often the key to outplaying your opponents. Always stay vigilant, monitor your adversaries, and create a city worth more than just its buildings.

Mastering the Art of Deception in Citadels

Bluffing in Citadels is crucial, as it keeps others guessing your next move, disrupting their counter-strategies. It intertwines with anticipating your opponents’ choices, turning the game into a psychological duel.

Know Your Enemy

  1. Study your opponents’ habits, adapting your bluffing accordingly to ensure it’s potent.

Layer Your Bluffs

  1. Vary your character picks to avoid detectable patterns that opponents can exploit.

Feigning Vulnerability

  1. Occasionally letting enemies ‘win’ can mislead them into a false sense of security.

Psychological Ploys

  1. Project intentions through conversation to nudge opponents away from their plans.

Adaptive Strategy

  1. Change your approach based on game progression, remaining unpredictable and flexible.

Seize the Crown, Shape the City

Armed with the insights you’ve gleaned from this guide, you stand ready to enter the esteemed halls of Citadels as a formidable opponent. Remember, the key to victory lies not just in the cards you hold but how you play them. Your journey through Citadels will be filled with cunning decisions, surprising twists, and delightful moments of victory. Gather your friends, draw your character cards with confidence, and let the subtle dance of strategy and chance begin. Who among you will craft the grandest city and claim the crown?

Want to know what we think of Citadels? Read our detailed review of Citadels here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.