Sunday, 7 October 2012

Play Report: Dominion - Intrigue

Life can be a balancing act at the best of times and, I sometimes think that the life of gamer is far more hectic than most, with the only folks that juggle more tasks we do being CEO's and parents.. And I'm really not sure about the CEO's.

So between my various projects, new games coming in, new games coming out, following blogs, writing a blog and, the various other gaming pots I have on the boil, I haven't got around to too much actual gaming of late. So when I got an invite in on a shop demo of Dominion and Dominion: Intrigue (that is, me demonstrating the game with a few other folks to the public at large) at my local friendly gaming store I jumped on the opportunity.

It was a chance to game and, writing it up would make for a great post. ;0).


All-in-all and, due to a late start, we managed to get three games in and boy was there ever contrast between them.

The first game was played with the base game and the base set-up that includes the Witch, which played a large part in the game. Of all of the players around the table, I was the only one not to invest in a Witch card, instead opting for Villages and Laboratories to play a my usual strategy of a fast cycling deck.

This did bite me more than once but luckily the one Chapel I took came around often enough to dump a lot of the Curses from my deck, so with my opponents going Witch heavy (cards which become far less useful once the Curse cards are depleted), I would say that "speed cycling" was definitely the way to go. I also picked up a lone Thief that I managed to bring to bare often with my build that I found to be quite useful.

The end result of the first game was a victory for me, which frankly I was surprised at but, hey, I'm not complaining. Mostly because I'd need to save all the moaning I could muster for the next match and, I wasn't alone.

The second game was a completely random draw from the base box and, honestly couldn't have been much worse!

The problem arose from having the Chapel in play as the only option that could be purchased for 2 but, no Witch. So it was pretty much useless. This was exacerbated by the fact that too many players went Thief heavy too quickly, leaving a couple of players (myself included) with only 4 Copper in our deck on more than one occasion.

The situation was best summed up by a friend at the table as being "A War of Attrition", and he couldn't have been more right. The game crawled along at best, with no player really making any headway. It sucked.

It sucked big time!

Thankfully though, our third game was a massive redemption. With one of our new players having just purchased a copy of Intrigue (how's that for the effectiveness of shop demos) and, wanting to break it open, we happily switched sets, giving me my first look inside the box.

Combining my initial impressions from the first game I have played of Intrigue with my experience as a Dominion player, I honestly have to say that given a choice between purchasing the two, I would take Intrigue any day of the week!

In fact, if I came to play the standard set after playing Intrigue I would be quite disappointed. That's the magnitude of the difference between the two sets.

It's hard to pin down but, I think what makes the difference is that Intrigue has a lot more going on. It is the first set that I have played that contains split victory cards. So, no longer do green cards simply block up your hand. Now they offer, Treasure, Actions and, the ability to draw more cards. Sometimes several of these!

Some of the cards included also offer greater strategic depth too, such as Ironworks. You can use it to take any card up to value 4 but, depending on the type of card you take, the Ironworks will have a different knock-on effect. For example, if you take a Treasure card, it gives you an additional 1 to spend on a buy this turn. Other options offer you additional cards or Actions and, considering that some of the cards out there now, like the Great Hall are both Actions and Victory cards, you can trigger multiple effects at once.

So, as you can see, there is a lot going on and, if you can buy only one copy of Dominion, I'd make it Intrigue.

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