Review by Peter Sarrett (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 27, 1994.
Intrige (note spelling) is a game of unbridled diplomacy, flattery, and back-stabbing. As ruler of a kingdom, you have 5 positions open in your royal court: Soldier, Lawyer, Scholar, Priest, and Banker. Your budget will allow you to pay each position 10,000, 20,000, 30,000, 50,000, or 100,000 each year (turn), decided when you fill the position. Once you've hired someone for 100,000, you may not hire someone else for the same salary level unless you first fire the current worker-- and then the new worker must be of the same profession. So, if a Lawyer gets hired for 50,000, then for the rest of the game your kingdom will pay Lawyers 50,000. You may only employ one member of each profession at a time.
Everyone has ten loyal subjects (two of each profession) who participate in an exchange program amongst all the kingdoms in the game. These subjects must seek employment in kingdoms other than your own. Each turn you may send up to two of your subjects jobhunting to the kingdoms of your choice. If, at the start of your turn, you find that there are jobseekers from other kingdoms in your kingdom, you must employ them. If you don't already have someone of their profession, you must allocate one of your remaining salary levels to them. If, for example, the seeker is a Banker and you already have a Banker, you may choose to replace the old one with the new one (or leave the new one in place).
Which salary level you allocate, and which Banker you choose to keep, are determined largely by bribes. Jobseekers openly slip you a bribe of any amount to garner your trust and good-will. The amount of the bribe is announced to all players. After receiving bribes from all interested parties, you make your decision. You're free to completely ignore the bribes as you choose, and your decision is final. Of course, other players will remember how you treated them when your jobseekers go to their kingdoms...
At the start of your turn, you collect income for all of your employed subjects. Subjects stay employeed until their employer king decides to replace them with someone of the same profession from another kingdom. Thus, you collect money from salaries and bribes, but must pay bribes to remain competitive. The player with the most cash at the end of the game (about six rounds) wins.
Besides the fun of role-playing the game environment ("But, your majesty, did I not save the prince from the wild boar's attack last spring? What will become of my family?"), there are a number of tactical points to consider. Receiving bribes is lucrative, so you want to make your kingdom attractive to jobseekers so people will send them to you. How long should you keep your 100,000 position available? Which profession should you allocate to it (if another kingdom is playing Scholars 100,000, it will be harder to attract them to your kingdom for $20,000)? How much will it take for you to be bought off? And how long will other kings hold a grudge?
Intrige is very likely the kind of game you'll either love or hate. I really liked it. It shouldn't be played by folks who take themselves, or the game, too seriously, because by its very nature the game demands that you screw everyone to win. So, like Rette Sich Wer Kann, a sense of humor makes the game go down easier.
Bonus review by Stuart Dagger (email@example.com), July 27, 1994.
Intrige is published by F.X.Schmid and has a playing time of about 75 minutes.It is for 3 to 5 players, but I don't think that it would work too well with three.
Each player represents a ruler of one of the mediaeval Italian courts. Your court has vacancies for 5 advisers (one cleric, one military, etc). These posts bring with them incomes of between 10000 and 100000 per turn. You also have 10 counters representing friends and relatives, two of each of the five types of adviser. The aim is to make money. You do this by getting your relatives into posts at other courts and by accepting presents from people seeking posts at yours.
On your turn you
It is the second step that is the heart of the game. If, for example, your court has a vacancy for a cleric, and if there is only one cleric hanging round in your courtyard, he gets the job --- though you decide which of the available salaries will be his. If there is more than one candidate for the vacancy, you get to choose who will get it. If you already have a cleric, but there is a new candidate hanging around, you may ditch the old in favour of the new. To help you in your decisions the other players offer bribes. The money for these is up front and there are no rules to say that you have to go with the highest offer.
Rejected candidates are banished (meaning that the marker can not be re-assigned) and the game ends one turn after everybody has placed the last of their markers.
I agree with Martin Higham: the game is good fun. The mechanics could hardly be simpler, but there is plenty of scope for psychology and smooth talking. Again, recommended.
Incidentally, where I disagree with Martin is in his assessment of Auf Heller und Pfennig. On game one, turn one I found the scoring cumbersome, but that was my fault for trying to compute the total score for each player without using the coins. If you do as the designer intended and pay out on each row and each column separately, it all goes smoothly.
The Game Cabinet - firstname.lastname@example.org - Ken Tidwell