Thursday, April 7, 2016

Backstabbing and betrayal for fun

Intrigue is probably the nastiest game that has remained in my collection. Many games definitely allow you to be mean to the other players but Intrigue has a way of making people angry.

I will freely admit that one of the reasons that it has remained in my collection is because I have the Mayfair edition and that is a really small box. Storage space is a big deal for me and a smaller box goes along way.

However, I have also kept In ntrigue because it is one of the purest negotiation games I have ever played. Mind you, Diplomacy from 1959 is both the granddaddy of negotiation games and still the king. However, it takes hours to play while Intrigue lets you lose friends in under an hour.

In I ntrigue, each player is the head of the household in Renaissance Italy. Think the Borgias. That will put you in the right mindset to play this game.

Each household has for open positions for four different occupations. Unfortunately, everyone has eight relatives, two of each type, that they are looking to hire off to the other families. And, no, you're not allowed to hire your own relatives. That would be putting your own money into your pocket and you want other people's money :)

On your turn, you go through two different phases. First of all, you send some of your relatives off to other peoples houses to beg for a job. Then, you look at the people who are applying for work at your own home.

Where the game really gets vicious and evil is when more than one person is applying for the same spot. By spot, I don't mean occupation. I mean pay grade.

You see, in the corrupt world of Intrigue, for anyone to even be considered for a position, the head of the household has to bribe you. Even if there's nobody else competing for that spot, they still have to give you at least a minimal brought. You know, just to be polite :P

But when you have more than one person trying for the position, then it behooves people to start giving you bigger and bigger bribes. And here is where it gets really evil. This isn't an auction. You decide who you were going to hire, regardless of the bribes. It doesn't have to be the guy who gave you the most money. And, oh, regardless if you hire someone or not, you pocket all the bribes.

Relatives who get turned away after trying to get hired don't go back to your household. Oh no. Your family has no place for freeloaders. They get exiled to an island in the middle of the Mediterranean, which means that they are out of the game for good.

So, let's go over that. You have twice as many people trying to get hired as positions. You are required to bribe your way into being hired, even if there's no competition. Every bribe that anyone gives automatically get pocketed. And there is no rule that says you have to keep any promises you make.

Oh, yeah. This game is vicious and it can definitely get under people skin and make them angry. Even if you want to be nice, if more than one person wants to get a position, you're going to have to pocket someone's money and send their guy to the island.

What is a more likely scenario is that you are going to end up breaking plenty of promises, stabbing people in the back, and doing your best to make sure that whoever is ahead gets dragged back.

The best games of Intrigue that I have ever played have been with old D&D buddies who I knew would cheerfully stab me in the back the first chance they got. Going to the game with that in mind, nothing is personal and it's a lot of fun.

I have also known people who have gotten upset and angry over Intrigue and swore to never play it again. This is definitely a game that you have to be careful about who you play it with and how you put it with because feelings can get hurt.

Oh, no, this is not even remotely my list of games to play with my toddler :P

Intrigue is a very good game. It manages to distill a brutal negotiation system to under an hour while still having a lot of substance. With a group that has thick enough skin, it's great.

No comments:

Post a Comment