Like my review of the dominion core set, this review seems to have gained traction on Amazon. It’s reprinted here.
Dominion Intrigue is both a stand-alone game and an expansion for the original "Dominion" game published in 2008. Fans of the dominion core game will be right at home with this new set as the cards follow the established format. The only "new" rules are clarifications of common sense practices players would naturally intuit. The game is also a stand-alone set with all the required treasure and victory cards.
Game play is straight forward. Players start with identical 10 card decks. They add to their deck by buying and stealing cards from the central pool and from other players. Game play is a balance of building the necessary resources to purchase victory points, defending against the strategies of other players, and balancing the need to accumulate the highest victory point total with the fact that cards you buy in “intrigue” often end up in another player’s deck
What you get:
1. 250+ cards including 25 entirely new kingdom cards and a full compliment of coins, curses, victory points, and randomizer cards.
2. Card organizer.
3. Rule book.
The Intrigue box can accommodate between 2-4 players, though that number can be increased with the combination of other sets. There is no moderator and every player starts the game with the exact same cards and access to the exact same resources.
For those familiar with the Dominion core game, at first glance "Dominion Intrigue" looks fairly straightforward. This is however not the case. The intrigue set is more interactive than the core set, constantly requiring the players to make value based decisions. The feel of these cards is very group oriented. For example, the card Masquerade requires each player to select a card from their hand and pass it to the player to their left, with the active player being able to trash one card from their hand. Also, cards like Barron and Duke provide defined strategies from the very beginning of games for players who want to specialize. Other cards like great hall, Noble, and Harem act as victory point cards as well as coins or action cards. If this sounds complicated, it's not, but turns can take longer as many of the action cards require all the players to perform actions and make choices while others require the active player to follow a series of instructions. This set also requires the players to be much more aware of how many cards they have in their discard pile, deck, hand, in the kingdom card piles, and what other players are potentially holding than the original game. Play through the recommended scenarios a few times before randomizing; trust me its better that way.
For new players, this game is entirely accessible and a great deal of fun. It is however more complex than the original core set and as a result it takes longer to get the rules down and start slinging the cardboard. If you've played collectable card games like magic the gathering, you'll love this game. If you've never played a card game in your life, this is still a fantastic game worth picking up. I won't say that a new player has to start with the previous "dominion" set before playing "Dominion Intrigue." What I will say is that Intrigue is far easier to strategize and grasp after having played the original core set.
I don't think it's fair to compare Intrigue with the original set. The game experience with “Intrigue" is entirely different than that of the main set, keeping the established mechanics but using decision making and group dynamics to force a much more unified and group dependent competition. I've played tons of games with the previous set and although there are cards like militia and witch which certainly affect the other players in the group, my interest in what other players were doing was limited to what they were likely to be doing to me and who had started the end run for the provinces. Dominion Intrigue requires players to be--very--aware of what other players are doing and very aware of how their strategies are advancing at all times.
Another aspect of the game that is different is the feel of some of the cards when played. Previously, "attack cards" like witch, Militia, and burocrat were commonly played, to the detriment of all. Cards like the Thief and spy require the active player to make a decision regarding all the other players, again to their detriment. One of the most frustrating and defining qualities of Dominion Intrigue is that it forces the players to decide how they will take it on the chin, in essence to choose the method of their punishment. The feel of play is more personal than the play with the core set--because--cards like torturer and masquerade don't just hit everyone equally as the witch and militia do, they make the other players complicit in their own downfall. Add to this the fact that many cards alter or confiscate cards from decks, and the net affect is a set that often feels like you don’t have much control over what happens to you, or worse, you do and there aren’t always any good choices.
I like this game. It has great potential when the kingdom cards are combined with those of the previous set. As a stand alone game though it doesn't have the raw crack--like addictiveness that the previous set possesses. It's different--not worse--and the things that make it different make it less fun for my friends and I.