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Dominion or Intrigue? Dominion and Intrigue?

Dominion Intrigue

Dominion or Intrigue? Dominion and Intrigue?

Review by Craig Hargraves

Dominion Intrigue is the first expansion for the extremely popular Dominion series and also has the distinction of being a stand alone game in its own right. Combining these two games makes for a game that can now support up to 6 players. That’s a pretty good start right there.

For those unfamiliar with the basic gameplay of Dominion here’s the quick summary: Players all start with the same 10 card deck and then proceed to buy different cards to customize their deck into an efficient victory point purchasing engine with the aim of having the most victory points by at the end of the game.

As with the original Dominion what you’re getting in the box is a lot of cards. Aside from the Money and Victory Point cards which are familiar from the original game you’re getting 25 all new kinds of Kingdom cards. The cards themselves have a couple of new themes introduced through some of them. The first theme is that of choices. Five cards in the set allow you to choose the benefit the card gives each time you play it. For example Steward allows you to choose to either draw two cards, trash two cards or spend 2 extra coins in your buy phase. These cards can be extremely useful for the flexibility they give you throughout the game.

The second theme is the combination card type. These are taking cards types that had previously been separate in the original Dominion and putting them into one card. For example Harem is both a Treasure and a Victory Card. During the game you can use Harems for 2 coins in the buy phase (that is like a Silver) but at the end of the game it’s actually going to be worth 2 Victory Points.Of course the question will be whether that 2 points is worth the short term sacrifice because for the 6 coins Harem costs you could also buy a gold… Decisions, decisions, decisions…

As with the original game, the art for these cards has been provided by a number of different artists (12 this time round). For those who haven’t read my review of the original Dominion, I’m not a huge fan of the art but I appreciate the fact that the style was, on the whole, consistent. This time Rio Grande Games has done a good job for the most part but then tripped and fallen on it’s face. For me Maura Kalusky’s art on Harem and Shanty Town is completely out of place. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like this art and I think in many ways they suit the humour used in the games’ sales blurb. But in the context of all the other cards they just stand out like a sore thumb. Still, I can’t help but wonder how Dominion would feel had they chosen to go for a more comic style art for the whole game from the start.

One question which was being asked by people after the release of Intrigue was, given that both are stand alone games, do you really need both? And if you only get one, which one? My spin on the answer to that question goes something like this. If you’re a fairly new or casual player then I would suggest the original Dominion. Intrigue introduces a lot more decisions through the game which can be more than you need to think about as you come to grips with the game. I also feel that Moat from the original Dominion is a more intuitive form of defense against Attack cards than Intrigue’s more subtle Secret Chamber is.

If you’re an experienced gamer and you’re confident that you’ll like the game then you should be getting both. Lots of Dominion makes for great Dominion. If you can only afford one at a time then I’d probably still get the original Dominion first. The original contains some good fundamental cards such as Moat, Chapel and Throne Room, I think it’s also easier to appreciate the new stuff in Intrigue having played the original first than it would be the other way around.

So from my perspective, if you like Dominion, then Intrigue is an essential expansion. It slowly steps up the complexity and depth of the game as a whole and will keep the game fresh for quite some time before you need your next expansion hit.

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