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Citadels designer’s next card game lets players concoct their own win conditions

Clowning around.

The next game from Bruno Faidutti, designer of Raptor and Citadels, has been revealed as the macabre card-buying board game Dreadful Circus.

Announced as part of publisher Portal Games’ PortalCon 13 livestream, Dreadful Circus tasks four to eight players with erecting the best possible circus in a gloomy meadow outside of a small town. Doing so involves collecting sets of cards by either purchasing them from a common area or from other players and amassing enough points to declare victory.

But there’s a twist: as players collect sets they earn the ability to etch their own final scoring rules, morphing how the end of the game will play out. This added strategic layer means victory comes to the big top manager who keeps one eye on the present round and another on the constantly shifting final act. Portal’s website says the game has been designed to never play the same way twice. The final scoring rules differ from player to player, allowing each to gradually construct a set of conditions they feel best prepares them to claim first place.

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Faidutti has a reputation for designing titles that pack interesting strategies and excitement into short sessions. Dreadful Circus rounds last no more than 40 minutes and looks to be following his successful pedigree.

Portal Games also announced Eleven: Football Manager and Dune: House Secret during the livestream. The latter is the first of a board game trilogy exploring author Frank Herbert’s science-fiction world of political intrigue and colonisation, and follows renewed excitement in the universe thanks to an upcoming feature film adaptation from director Denis Villeneuve.

Dreadful Circus will launch a Kickstarter campaign later in 2021.

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Dreadful Circus

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Chase Carter avatar

Chase Carter


Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.