Review: Dominion Intrigue

Dominion Intrigue review

Dominion: Intrigue is a standalone expansion for Dominion, the deck building game. That means that you can play it on its own without buying Dominion or you can combine the 2 of them to add more content to your games.

Intrigue was published in 2009 by Rio Grande Games. It adds few new tricks to the game while increasing the overall interactivity of the game.

For the TL;DR version click here.

Opening the Box

Specs on the box

  • 2-4 players (up to 6 if you combine it with the original game)
  • 30 min
  • +13 years (my 9 year old can play it just fine)

So the box itself looks just like the base Dominion. It’s filled with loads of cards 500 to be exact. What makes it stand alone is that you get another set of Victory point cards and Treasure cards. This means that you can play with just this box. These can be ordered separately but this is the only expansion that has them included.

Dominion review
Ok, this is the insert for the regular Dominion. They look pretty much the same and are functional. I threw mine away.

Aside from that you get the instructions and a whole new set of kingdom cards. They account for over half of the card in the box.

Sleeves

I’ve sleeved all of my Dominion cards with these:

mdg-penny-card-sleeves_grande

If you sleeve them they don’t fit properly back into the insert. So what I’ve done is just stack all of my cards (Dominion + Prosperity + Intrigue) into the same box. I know where the Treasure and VP cards are then I just draw 10 kingdom cards at random and I play. It’s not the prettiest of setups but its super easy. I can have a game up and running in just a few minutes.

Dominion Intrigue review
The box is VERY heavy! I will add more expansions to the box at some point.

Theme

We already know that the idea behind Dominion is to build the most spectacular kingdom. So that means buying kingdom cards which represents upgrades to your buildings and or a skilled workforce. The way to win is to have the most land, i.e victory point cards.

Intrigue, as the name suggest is all about making plans and reacting to things that upset the state of your hand of cards.

Gameplay

I’m not going to go into the full detail of how to play Dominion and what it’s all about, for that you can see my Dominion review. I’m just going to comment on how Intrigue adds to the game.

The first thing that Intrigue adds to the game is Victory Point cards that actually let you do something. The VP cars in the base game do nothing. They are dead weight until the very end of the game where they are the best possible cards you can have.

Dominion Intrigue review
Who knew a Harem could earn you treasure?

These new VP cards double as Actions or Treasure that you can play in your turn. I love the idea behind this; they are fairly well balanced though. For their price the VP that they grant you are not as much as a similarly priced regular VP card.

The next “big thing” is the ability to add extra players beyond 4. To do this you will need the base game so you have enough treasure and VP cards for everyone to use. It is strongly advised against. The downtime just becomes too much for most people. I’ve actually not had a chance to play a 6 player game yet. I don’t actually think I want to either, the option is there but one of the great things about Dominion is the speed at which it plays.

Dominion Intrigue review
You opponents will get to decide the lesser of 2 evils. You will gain 3 cards.

Intrigue, needs to live up to its name somehow and it does that by allowing a lot more interaction between players. There’s a lot more cards that allow you to have an impact on your opponents deck and hand of cards (not all of them are attacks) but they are not as straight forward as the Militia or Witch from the base game. They usually offer you and the other player some choices. A lot of the action cards that only impact you also offer you choices of what to want those cards to do in the round.

Even the reaction (defense) card is not a straight block against an attack, it give you something to do, a choice to make. Almost nothing in Intrigue is straightforward.

Conclusion

What we have here is a set of cards to “spice up” the regular game of Dominion. A lot of people say it’s an aggressive expansion. I don’t think so. I see it more as an interactive expansion. The attack cards are not straight forward attacks.

Dominion Intrigue review
The reaction to the attack is not really a block.

Yes you can mess up your opponent’s plans but often they can get away with mitigating your attack and having it do no long term damage. Some of the cards that you play might even help your opponents to get rid of card that they don’t want. They might even pass them on to you!.

It’s not as clean as the regular game. Everything can change often, for some it’s a bit too random and impacts too much on their planning. Pria, my wife prefers not to play with the Intrigue cards. I on the other hand like to keep things fresh (read chaos) so it’s more my style.

If you’re looking for a deckbuilder and like take-that style games then this would be a decent place to start from. If you prefer just working on your own deck and streamlining it into a well-oiled machine on your own then maybe give this one a skip.

Can I play this at a braai?

Dominion is a family favourite. It’s fast and it’s fun. We play it often at braai time or when we have a few minutes to kill.

Dominion Intrigue review
Choices, choices.

PS: Apologies for the really bad pics, this week has been rough and I’m actually driving down to Durban in a few hours, so I was in a bit of a rush. I need to work on prepping posts in advance.

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