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

This Citadels strategy guide covers everything from smart character selection, building a diverse city, to mastering the art of bluffing. After numerous game nights with friends, I've gathered tips on using opponent analysis, game phase adaptation, and confident bluffing to outsmart opponents and secure victory in this intriguing board game.


Hey there, fellow strategists! Ready to dive into the world of Citadels? In this guide, I’ll break down the rules and share my top strategies for claiming victory. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned player, this post has something for everyone. From the basics of How To Play Citadels to advanced tactics, I’ve got you covered. So, grab your crown, and let’s get started!

What’s in the box

  • 27 character cards
  • 84 building cards
  • 6 reference cards
  • 30 gold plastic pieces
  • 1 wooden crown marker
  • 1 rule book

How To Play Citadels: Rules Summary


  1. Open the game box and lay out all the components.
  2. Shuffle the character cards and building cards separately.
  3. Each player starts with four building cards and two gold pieces.
  4. Place the crown marker with the oldest player.


  1. Starting with the player who has the crown marker, select character cards in secret.
  2. Players take turns in the order of their character cards.
  3. On your turn, take gold or draw two building cards and keep one.
  4. Build one building by paying its cost from your gold.
  5. Use your character’s special ability to gain an advantage.
  6. Pass the crown marker to the left at the end of the round.


  1. The game ends when a player builds their eighth building.
  2. Count points for each building plus any bonuses from character abilities.
  3. The player with the most points wins the game.

Special Rules & Conditions

  1. Some buildings have special powers that take effect immediately.
  2. Characters have unique abilities that can affect gameplay significantly.
  3. If players tie for points, the player with the most buildings wins.
  4. In case of another tie, the player with the highest cost building wins.

This quick guide should get you started on How To Play Citadels. But remember, the real fun begins when you start playing and uncover all the strategies and surprises hidden within this fantastic game. Just last week, my friends and I spent an entire evening playing Citadels. We laughed, strategized, and backstabbed our way through the game. It was a blast, and trust me, no two games are ever the same. So grab some friends, open up Citadels, and let the fun begin!

Best Citadels Strategies

Mastering Character Selection in Citadels: A Game-Changer

Choosing the right character in Citadels can turn the tide of the game. Here’s how to pick wisely:

Analyzing Opponents’ Moves

  1. Watch patterns in opponents’ character choices to predict their next move.

Adapting to the Game Phase

  1. Select characters that align with your current strategy and the game’s phase. Early game? Go for gold. Later? Opt for power moves.

Bluffing with Selections

  1. Throw off your opponents by choosing characters that don’t align with your obvious strategy, keeping them guessing.

Mastering Building Diversity: Your Path to Victory

In Citadels, diversifying your buildings can make or break your game. Firstly, variety boosts your points through different district types. Secondly, it keeps opponents guessing. Thirdly, it unlocks powerful combos.

Strategic Selection

  1. Balance your portfolio. Mix colors for bonuses.
  2. Target rare districts. They’re harder to replicate.

Tactical Advantages

  1. Adapt based on your characters. Match their strengths.
  2. Avoid predictability. Keep opponents on their toes.

Endgame Focus

  1. Prioritize unique districts as the game ends.
  2. Remember, quality over quantity can clinch the win.

Mastering the Art of Deception: A Guide to Bluffing and Prediction in Citadels

Bluffing and predicting moves form the backbone of any strategy in Citadels. By adopting these tactics, players can throw opponents off balance and sway the game in their favor. Let’s dive into the strategies.

Understanding Your Opponents

  1. Watch for patterns in their play.
  2. Use their habits against them.

Mastering the Bluff

  1. Act confidently, no matter your hand.
  2. Vary your character choices to remain unpredictable.

The Prediction Game

  1. Anticipate your opponent’s next move.
  2. Counter it with a surprising play.

By focusing on these elements, you’ll keep your opponents guessing and gain the upper hand. Remember, Citadels isn’t just about the cards you’re dealt; it’s how you play them.

Master the Art of Building Your Citadel

Now that you’ve got the scoop on ‘How To Play Citadels,’ from character selection to building diversity, you’re well on your way to becoming a master builder. Remember, Citadels is not just about the luck of the draw but about outsmarting your opponents with strategy and a dash of deception. My friends and I have had some epic game nights, filled with laughter and sudden twists that Citadels is famous for. Each game unraveled a new strategy, showing us that this game never gets old. So, gather your friends, pick your characters wisely, and start building. Who knows? You might just construct the greatest citadel of all time. Happy building!

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.