The world of Dominion is about to get way darker and more sinister in Dominion: Intrigue, the first standalone expansion for the hit card game that took the world by storm. Mingle with shady conspirators, torturers and swindlers. Meet your contacts in the secret chamber or the shanty town. Make sure everyone knows who’s in charge around here. As they say, nice guys finish last. And the race for Dominion is about to get really dirty!
Dominion: Intrigue is a standalone expansion for the award-winning Dominion card game that shook the gaming world in 2008. Being a standalone expansion, it can be played together with the base game, but it can also be played just as well on its own. This review focuses on the Dominion: Intrigue expansion. If you want to know more about how the base game is played, please read our Dominion review.
As the name implies, the theme in Dominion: Intrigue is all about underhanded dealings and mysterious agents using covert tactics to help you achieve control. A large number of the cards in this set support that theme, actively tampering with your opponents’ hands and decks, and forcing them to trash valuable cards. A new card type is also introduced: cards that act as both victory cards as well as either treasure or action cards.
There are a number of dangerous-sounding cards in the set, with names like swindler, minion, saboteur and torturer. They also have dangerous abilities to match. The Saboteur is able to force opponents to trash an expensive card and replace it with something cheaper. For the same cost as a Silver, the Swindler lets you swap a card from opponents’ decks with another card of your choosing, in addition to providing you with 2 coins. The Torturer forces opponents to either discard 2 cards or draw a curse card, in addition to letting you draw 3 cards! These action-attack cards are just a few examples of the cards that will make life really difficult for your opponents. Some people have complained that Dominion is like a game of solitaire where you just focus on your own deck. Well, it’s evident that there’s going to be a whole lot more interaction in this expansion!
There is also a new type of card that was introduced in this expansion, or more accurately a new combination of card types. There are now cards that are a combination of a victory card and either an action or treasure card. Previously, players were hesitant (with good reason) to buy victory cards early, as drawing too many of them would mean you wouldn’t be able to play or buy anything. These new cards solve that problem. The Great Hall gives you an extra card and action in addition to a victory point, while the Harem gives you 2 coins and 2 victory points. These cards are a bit more expensive than comparable cards, but that’s the price you have to pay for flexibility!
There are plenty of other interesting cards in the set, including the Duke who is worth more victory points the more Duchies you have. There is also the Coppersmith that doubles the value of coppers, and the Bridge that makes every card cost 1 less. There is also the Wishing Well that rewards you if you can correctly guess the top card of your deck, and the Masquerade card that makes players give cards to each other. Plenty of fun to go around!
It is great to see Dominion grow with expansions like this, adding new themes and mechanics to an already-strong core game. The theme idea is really nice, allowing players to roleplay their quest for dominion, whether it be via open war or through subterfuge and stealth. There are also more thematic expansions coming our way; as of mid-2010, the Seaside and Alchemy expansions are available, and the Prosperity expansion is just round the corner.
Being a standalone expansion set with so many new game-changing cards, Dominion: Intrigue is awesome for both beginners and experienced players alike. You don’t need the base game to play it, but mixing the cards here with the core cards gives you so many more game variations and opens up very interesting strategies. And last but by no means least, this expansion allows up to 6 players to play the game!
Playing Time: 30 to 45 minutes