Posted by: gschloesser | August 3, 2011


Design by:  Stefan Dorra
Published by:  FX Schmid
3 – 4 Players, 45 minutes – 1 hour
Review by:  Greg J. Schloesser

We’re talking nasty here.  No, not just nasty … cut-throat in the vilest sense of the word.  It is a virtual guarantee that you will screw … and be screwed by … EVERY player during the course of this game.  That is the nature of the game.  It is certainly NOT for the faint of heart.

The game is Intrige, an out-of-print nasty delight from Stefan Dorra.  The game was published by FX Schmid of Germany and can still be found overseas and occasionally appears on the internet marketplace bulletin boards.  If you see a copy … AND are into vicious, back-stabbing games …. grab it.

Each player represents an Italian family who has a nice Palazzo with five jobs to fill.  The jobs provide income ranging from the princely sum of $100,000 to the pauper income of $10,000.  Each ‘family’ also has ten relatives in five different professions (two in each of the five professions:  Lawyer, Accountant, Banker, Military and Religious) who must go out into the Italian countryside and seek jobs from the other players.

On each turn, players must send out two relatives to seek employment from the other players.  Since each Palazzo only has five potential positions, of which no two can be occupied by tokens of the same profession, it doesn’t take long until players are competing with each other for positions.  And, of course, the higher-paying positions are much more desirable.  How does one compete for the jobs?

Sheer, naked bribery.  During the phase wherein players must fill job positions, each player soliciting a job first makes promises and threats to the potential employer.  Then, each player, in turn, GIVES him a bribe … cold, hard cash.  This bribe is accepted and kept by the player regardless of whether the person giving the bribe is actually awarded a position or not!

Any promises made or inferences given aren’t worth a darn thing.  The employer, after collecting all of the bribes, doles out the positions as he sees fit.  Thus, if you felt relatively secure in giving an impressive $50,000 bribe for the $100,000 position, you may wind up with the $10,000 position while your opponent, who offered no bribe, gets the top paying position.  Cruelty at its best (or worst!).

Another type of conflict can arise when someone already holds a position and another player sends a token of the same profession to that Palazzo seeking that job.  Then, the player currently in the disputed position gets the first crack at bribery in order to maintain his position.  After all bribes have been given, the Palazzo’s owner then decides who to grant the job to.  Losing tokens are exiled (ala Napoleon) to an island of despair, never again to reappear.

Promises, threats, bribery, back-stabbing, deceit … boy, this game is UGLY … but TONS of fun.  Be warned:  This game is NOT for everybody.  Anyone who is easily offended if he is back-stabbed or takes offense at out-right lies and deceit should avoid this game like the plague.  But those who thrive on such tactics will revel in this game’s treachery.

The game is designed to keep everyone close, as it is easy each turn to spot the player who is doing the best during the income phase; i.e.: the player raking in the most money. Thus, in the following round, that player becomes the target and is usually ousted from many of his plum positions.  However, on the very next turn, it is highly likely that another player will have risen to the lofty high income position and is certain to be brutally treated during the following round!

However, the game is not simply one of deceit and bribery (although that alone is deliciously wonderful), one must also manage his money properly.  When to bribe .. how much to bribe … when to concede a position and hang on to your cash  … all play an important role in determining the ultimate victor.  One who bribes too generously may, indeed, get the plum positions, but find himself on the short-end of accumulated cash at the conclusion of the game.  And accumulated cash determines the victor.

The game is quick … it plays in about an hour.  However, in that one hour, it packs in enough treachery, back-stabbing and brutality to last a full evening.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so viciously treated yet loved every minute of it!



  1. I love this game but don’t play it with those people that cannot separate gaming from life. There will be times in this game that players take an absolutely horrible deal, just to screw you. It is in the nature of the game. Laugh it off, please. 9/10

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