A quick post on a quick game today: Citadels!


For those of you unfamiliar, Citadels is a little role selection & building game, where each player leads a small city and is trying to build new ‘districts’ to increase the prosperity of the city. A nice thing about this game is that it plays 2-8 players and plays pretty well at each size. (Although 7-8 players gets a bit long for the depth, in my opinion.)

Strategic but light, it’s also unfortunately extremely light on the representation front.


Every single human pictured in the artwork of this game is white. There’s really not much more to say about that.

Location is unspecified, but vaguely ‘generic medieval European’.


I’m giving it:

0 stars


30 district cards have artwork picturing people. Abolutely zero of these show any women.

That’s right: It’s so much of a man’s world that women don’t even exist in this city.

What the actual fuck.

There are a few women on the cover art on the box. But none of them show back up in any of the playable cards.

I have the released version, which comes with 9 bonus/expansion characters in addition to the 9 base characters. Of these 18 merchants and artists and assassins and thieves, there are precisely two women: a (fat, disgruntled) Queen that can only be played in an 8-player game and an expansion card of a Witch.

This would begrudgingly score one star, but the rulebook used only male pronouns because fuck the rest of us, I guess. So that’s a full negative star for that, bringing us to:

0 stars


As I said when about Puerto Rico, in a land where only men exist, presumably some of them have to be boning. But the game has no queer-identified characters and no queerable mechanism (but it does have a Queen who takes her power from her involvement with the King, so we do get a smidgen of hetero up in here), so that puts us at:

0 stars


There is a bit of body diversity–a few different body types, various heights, a few fat characters. Not really implemented in a way that felt body pos (the Queen in particular is fat and presented very poorly), but better than nothing, I guess?

1 star


Overall, grim. So grim. This game was shockingly disappointing. (NOT A SINGLE WOMAN IN THE ENTIRE CITY WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK.)


Race ☆☆☆
Gender ☆☆☆
Sexuality ☆☆☆
Body ★☆☆
Overall Average 0.25

5 thoughts on “Citadels”

  1. A new version of Citadels is planned, with completely new artwork:

    The assassin is now a woman, they added a new character (the scholar), who’s not only also a woman, but possibly Asian (but I might be reading too much into it). Plus, the Warlord seems to be black and very menacing.
    Hopefully they changed other things as well, but from this preview it looks like they already are trying to be more inclusive 🙂

    1. The Warlord might indeed be supposed to be black, which would make sense as a reference to Othello, since the game is in this kind of setting. An Asian scholar in a Renaissance woman setting, on the other hand, would not make much sense. But the publisher being American, he may reason differently…..

      1. This is interesting, I did wonder how much of a say does the designer have in stuff like this. Anyway, as a Citadels fan I like that the new artwork is diverse: it makes me happy to see this hobby go towards a more inclusive direction.

    1. Thanks for stopping in and sharing this info!

      I agree there are plenty of complexities to this process that are outside of the scope of this blog–there’s heaps of other literature and discussion on the whys of the lack of diversity in media. We’re specifically just doing a survey of games as they are in their published state.

      That said, I disagree pretty strongly with your assertion that if “If it’s [parity in representation] constrained, it’s just artificial, unconvincing and ridiculous.” The only way having parity in representation is “artificial and unconvincing” is if you believe that straight, white men are the ‘default’ person and that everyone else is an aberration. This idea that representing people of various identities in proportion to their existence in reality is something forced and artificial is a nonsense concept to me.

      What I found particularly egregious about Citadels–and I take your point that this was largely a decision made by designers and not you, so please take this as ‘criticism of the industry that stuff like this happens’ not criticism of you personally–is the complete lack of women in the art in the district cards. I find the decision to have no female playable characters/roles in the base set to be a questionable one, but I can see the defense of it even if I disagree. But a game about a generic city that doesn’t picture a single woman in the entire city, in any crowd, in the background, in any circumstance is just astonishing. What possible justification is there for this?

      Also, I could speak at length about the racial issue as well, but Medieval POC explores how the idea that no people of color existed in Medieval Europe is in itself revisionist and anachronistic more articulately than I ever could, so I’ll just link to their primer:

      But it’s obvious you’ve put a lot of thought into this and are actively making inclusive decisions in many of your games, so thank you for this! It’s a work in progress for the industry for sure.

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