Review: Citizen

As you have ushered your bill through the US House and whipped the votes needed to pass it will you need a simple majority or will you need the veto proof super majority? What will the US Senate do with the bill will it get passed there? What congress people are going to vote for or against your bill. Lets dive into the inner workings of what makes the United States legislative branch of government functions or not. Citizen designed by Steve Barger and Gray Smith.

The game Citizen is a very thoughtfully designed game which is especially important when it comes to a game about politics. Steve Barger and Gray Smith skillfully produced a non-partisan game that relies on facts and history to build a super power of a game about passing bills through the US congress. Before we get into the depths of Citizen I would like you to know that this game is competitive, fun, and engaging despite what may be perceived as a dry or boring topic. Personally I follow a lot of politics and all the cards in this game were like baseball cards for me. Even if your not a political junkie this game has a lot to offer and you are likely to learn something every time you play this one.

Cards, Citizen has a lot of cards. This is a good thing. The amount of cards come from having a card for ever member of the 117th Congress. That 435 House Representatives and 100 senators. In addition there are Citizen cards (action cards that drive the game play) and Circumstance cards (things that can occur during the game that can change the political environment). Then there are the Cause cards these are the Senate and House bills that you are trying to pass.

Even if your not a political junkie this game has a lot to offer and you are likely to learn something every time you play this one.

The heart of game play in Citizen is set collection with your citizen cards. When you build sets that are complementary to your cause you are able to get votes and change peoples minds. Also if you are getting sets of cards that match the opposite of your opponents cause card then you will be able to sway their votes. At the beginning of setup each player will choose a cause there are 4 levels of cause cards and players should agree on the level of difficulty that they want to play. The rule book does not specifically mention it but I would imagine you could use this as a handicapping mechanism to to give better players harder causes to level the game out. Each player chooses a cause and places it face up in front of them on the board (there is a space marked for it). Once you get familiar with the game you can add in a hidden cause card face down under your publicly know cause.


After all the players know what causes there are in play then its time to draft your Citizen deck. Each player gets 21 cards then through a series of choosing some cards and passing the rest to the next player (drafting) each player will end up with a 20 card deck to use through the game. If a player cannot draw a full hand (5-7 cards) then you draft again.


Each player now chooses a token and either places it on the start spot for the Senate or House depending on what cause card they have chosen (SB or HB). All players will now draw a hand of 5 cards form their Citizen cards and the first player will start the game. The first player then draws the top card from the side of Congress that they are currently in. There are three things that can happen you can draw a congress person who will support your cause or be against your cause and lastly the card can just not be compatible (no symbol matches). On each players side of the board there is a section for their yes splay (votes for your bill) and a stack of no votes. The player then places the card in the appropriate spot and if its not compatible then put it on the bottom of the deck it was drawn from.

Fun Fact: the icon for the Circumstance cards was modeled after the weather vane atop the Smithsonian Institute.

The main mechanism is set collection. The symbol system that Steve Barger and Gray Smith put into Citizen really makes it easy to identify matches. There are 39 icons and 38 of them have opposing icons. Icons are either solid (supporting) or outline (opposing). The second part of the turn is playing 1-5 Citizen cards from your hand. There is a matrix on what the matches could be and the effect they will have depending on if you played it supporting your cause or opposing your opponents cause. Depending on the level of matches you can play will increase the effect it has on the game and your ability to play higher level power cards. I have an example below of what the sets would look like in support of a cause. The effects that happen from the sets that you play can swing single votes or the Raid which will could result in removing cards from they opponents nay stack and putting them into your yea splay.

Once you have resolved your effects tally up your votes and move your token up to the spot on the board that matches the total. Each of the congressional cards has a vote total representing the impact that congress member has on their respective house of government. If you happen to land on a space with the Circumstance icon on it then draw and resolve a Circumstance card. Fun Fact: the icon for the Circumstance cards was modeled after the weather vane atop the Smithsonian Institute. There is also an optional rule for horse trading if you land on the same space as another player then you may trade between one and five Citizen cards.


Once you get to a majority in one of the houses or a super majority in one then you can move the your token over to the other house and start getting votes there. You will keep all of your cards from the previous house as you may need to go back (if you chose to move over with only a simple majority and someone played the veto card you will have to go back and get the super majority). When you get your cause through both houses you have won the game.


Citizen is a perfect game for someone interested in politics and how the government works, a political junkie and everyone in between. The game has ton of knowledge packed into it along with a ton of cards (900 cards). The system is elegant for putting it all together and makes game play smooth. Personally I excited to get this one back on the table soon. Check out more info on Citizen on their website and order your copy today.


Players: 2-4

Year Published: 2019

Recommended Ages: 13+

Time to Play: 60-240 minutes



A preview copy of Citizen was provided to Bert's Tabletop Games by Dream State, LLC for review purposes.

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