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The five players were: Myself, Andrea (male), Marie, Shane and Neal.
As the five of us sat around Andrea and Marie's dining room table I suggested we try a game of Intrigue. None of us had played it before and I only vaguely knew the rules from a past reading. Still I was determined to play without re-reading them and naturally we played wrong. Interestingly we played very close to the suggested author variant. Bribes were not a requirement and when more than one player attempted to take the same position the palace owner would come to some sort of deal with one of them. What he/she did after that was up to them though. It was quite possible to just pocket a bribe, banish the applying scholar and turn to the other potential scholar and ask for money from them. As a result negotiations were fierce, especially since we allowed prospective suitors to bargain simultaneously, and there was plenty of back-stabbing and broken promises.
I will spare you all the details but instead focus on a very interesting situation that occurred late in the game and essentially decided the outcome.
In the last rounds of the game Andrea appeared to be in the lead but since we mistakenly played with money hidden none of us could be sure by how much. I think most of us felt we all had legimitate chances of winning if we could make a final push and knock Andrea down. He on the other hand was so confident of his impending win that he pleaded with Neal and Marie to put him in high paying positions since, in his words, if he was going to win anyway he "may as well crush us all like bugs". Oddly his pleas fell on deaf ears.
And so with the game winding down I applied to Shane's palace at his $10,000 position which Andrea currently occupied. Andrea was set to earn the most money this round and I figured this was our last chance to knock him down or else we may as well hand him the game. Complicating things was that I also suspected Shane was ahead of me in money so I couldn't afford to offer him much for it. Negotiations began and he immediately asked for $10,000 for the position. I explained that it made little sense for me to make that deal and countered with an offer of zero dollars. I reasoned that if he didn't take the deal we had no chance to win so he really had no other viable option. I admitted I benefitted more than him but we both agreed he was likely ahead of me so it would come down to how much. He remained adamant though, asking for $10,000.
Again I explained this made little sense. I told him if I gave him 10k the net result was Andrea -10k, Shane +10k, and myself 0k. I explained that I didn't care if I came 2nd to 5th so this deal had no reward in it for me. Even if that let me beat Andrea I would only lose to him. I told him with my proposal the net result was Andrea -10k, Shane 0k and myself +10k. In this deal Shane still benefited by Andrea dropping and thereby give himself a chance to win. I didn't tell him yet but I was prepared to offer him a few thousand for the spot if it came to it but no more than 5k.
To my amazement and frustration, especially since Andrea had backstabbed both of us and had become somewhat of a target. Shane refused to listen to my arguements and stubbornly asked for 10k again. At this point I became annoyed. I realized Shane was not going to budge no matter how much I reasoned with him. I accepted I was not going to win this game and I didn't care if I was 2nd through 5th place. On the other hand the frustrating negotiations with Shane provided the opportunity for a different reward: taking down Shane for his stubborn refusal to negotiate.
So with that in mind I told Shane to shove off and banish my scholar which he did. As the money was counted I was shocked to find I was a distant 5th with 90k. Even if Shane had of taken my offer I would have still been 5th!
As for Andrea, he had 124k, exactly 10k more than Shane with 114k. I immediately pumped my fist in the air and ribbed Shane as they revealed their totals, revelling in the knowledge that Shane's stubborness had cost him a tie. Worse with only minor cajoling I would have happily handed him 1k for that position and he would have won.
Amazing game, 9/10 for that first experience even though we played it wrong. I am going to have to test it the way it was intended and once more with our mistaken rules and see which we prefer.
Great read! thanks for the session!