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In Citadels/Machiavelli the rules state that the current king, in order to start a round, needs to look at the first character card and put it face down on the table. Then put a certain number of character cards face up on the table. If the King card is amongst the open cards a new character card is put face up instead of him.

I think that applying this rule results in a situation in which the first player is unable to get the King character because the second player would then know for 100% sure that the first player chose it. Consider the following situation: The King was amongst the face up cards and is replaced by another character. Player two therefore knows that the king card is availble to player one. If then player two receives the character cards and the king is no longer there, player one MUST have chosen it.

Considering the fact that the whole process of character selection in Citadels is very well balanced and you never really know for sure who took which character, I feel that somehow there must be a way to change this rule a little so that the problem is avoided. How would you implement this rule in such a way that the problem no longer exists?

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Possibly its a feature, if player1 knows he cannot pick the king safely then it prevents one player from always going first? –  Nick Aug 29 '12 at 12:38
    
@Nick nice suggestion but this game punishes you bluntly for this kind of behaviour. If player 1 takes the king a few turns in a row to ensure the throne, I reckon at any time he will be either assassinated or robbed very soon. I don't think the rule was made for the reason you suggest because the chance that the king is amongst the face up cards is fairly small, and based on random card draws. –  Bazzz Aug 29 '12 at 20:10
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Remove the appropriate number of random characters face-up, if a King is revealed reshuffle. Then randomly select a character card and place it face-down

This will still have you reshuffling the character cards 25% of the time in a 4-Player game (if you remove the King from the face-up random cards, you reshuffle 100% of the time), but it is much better than The only two other possibilities that come to mind. In this way, the second player doesn't know if you chose the King or it was removed face-down randomly.

  • Remove the exception for choosing a new card if the King is revealed face-up

  • Allow the First Player to choose between the Last Players face-down discarded card, or their original choice

Both of these suggestions have their own issues. If you allow the King to be removed face-up, you are changing the odds that the First Player changes each round. In a 4-Player game, you have tripled the chances from 12.5 to 37.5, that the King is unavailable.

With the latter suggestion, the first player knows all the roles that were chosen. This means that they are certain to hit with the Assassin or Thief.

BTW, The first player sets aside one character card face-down with-out looking at it, according to the rules (not that this isn't easy to deduce).

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I was going to clarify the 'without looking' part, but then it just gives the King a trivial deduction problem, so having the king look at the face down card probably just saves time. –  rrenaud Aug 27 '12 at 14:55
    
Why not just discard the face-down card AFTER having dealt with the face up cards? Seems like it gives the same final result, without having to shuffle if the king is face up. –  bwarner Aug 27 '12 at 15:18
    
My Duch rulebook printed in 2000 states that the king is allowed to look at the card, so perhaps this is a revision considering that the card is easily deductable. –  Bazzz Aug 28 '12 at 5:13
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I think between user1873, bwarner and me looking in my rulebook again, we have found a solution: open the face up cards first, if the king is there reshuffle and open again, THEN look at the first card and put it face down. This way player one can safely choose the king because player two cannot know the face down card. When I just read my rulebook again I think this is actually what they are trying to say, it's just not very clear. I'm glad we found the solution. :) –  Bazzz Aug 28 '12 at 5:17
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