Orléans: Trade & Intrigue is the second expansion for the bag building board game Orléans. This expansion for Orléans does not require the first expansion (Orléans: Invasion) to play. It contains four modules that you can add individually to your games of Orléans.
The expansion modules in Trade & Intrigue include Orders, New Events, New Beneficial Deeds and Intrigue. In this review, I will take a look at each of these optional modules for Orleans.
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What do you get with Orleans Trade & Intrigue?
The Trade & Intrigue Expansion for Orléans was designed by Reiner Stockhausen, the designer of the base game, and features art by Klemens Franz. It was published in 2016 by Tasty Minstrel Games and was nominated for the Golden Geek Best Board Game Expansion award that year. This is the second expansion for Orléans. To use this expansion you do need to have Orléans, but there is no need to own the first expansion, Invasion.
Check out our Orléans Trade & Intrigue unboxing video on YouTube to get a look at what you get with this expansion.
One notable thing about this expansion is the box. Orléans Trade & Intrigue comes in a rather thin box that is thin in more ways than one. For one, it’s just a few punchboards thick plus the box itself is made of very thin cardboard. What this means is that this box is pretty much disposable. The contents of this box are meant to be punched out and put with the main game and not kept in this box.
Inside this disposable box, you will find some punch boards with thirty-four new event tiles, three new place tiles, and ten cover tiles (used to cover up spots on the new boards when playing with fewer than four players). There are also two new double-sided boards and a deck of twenty-three order cards.
Finally, you have a six-panel fold-out containing the new rules.
What does Trade & Intrigue add to Orléans?
The Trade & Intrigue expansion for Orléans adds four new optional rule modules and three new place tiles to the base game. Two of the new modules, Order and New Events, can be mixed and matched with both or either added to the base game. The other two modules, New Beneficial Deeds and Intrigue, both replace the Beneficial Deeds board from the base game so you can only use one of these new modules at a time.
Below I will look at each of these modules in detail.
Three new place tiles are added to Orléans in Trade & Intrigue:
With Trade & Intrigue, you get two new levels I places and one new level II place. At level I there is the Brasserie, which provides wine and cheese, and the Merchant House, which awards points at the end of the game for collecting the most of the five different types of goods. At level II we have the Sheep Farm which allows players to convert cheese into wool, money or progress on the development track.
The Orders module adds a pickup and deliver element to Orléans:
To add the Orders expansion to Orléans all you do is shuffle the order cards and lay five face-up on the table. Each order card shows one of the cities located on the main board along with a number of goods and a set amount of victory points.
During a player’s turn if their merchant is at one of the cities shown on one of the face-up cards and they are able to discard the goods shown on the card they can claim the card. They score the points shown on the cards at the end of the game.
When an order is filled a new card is pulled from the deck and placed face up.
Trade & Intrigue adds New Events to Orléans:
To use the new events in your game of Orléans you first remove the original eighteen Hour Glass tiles from the game. These are replaced by a new set of tiles from Trade & Intrigue. Unlike the original tiles, not every tile is used in every game. In addition, the tiles are broken into four sets, A, B, C and D. There is a set starting and ending tile.
You now build the event deck by placing the ending tile at the bottom of the stack, then randomly selecting four tiles from each set of tiles to place on top of that starting with the D tiles and working your way up.
These new events are extremely varied compared to the ones in the original deck. A full two pages of the rules fold out are dedicated to describing these tiles in detail. Here are just a few of the more interesting examples:
Vacation: Discard this tile and draw a new one, thus shortening the game by one round.
Capitation Tax: Each player must pay two coins for each follower still on their boards.
Peasant Uprising: Farmers are wild for this turn but any farmer left on a non-farmer spot at the end of the round is returned to a player’s bag.
Sabotage: Technology fails, you cannot use any actions that have a technology tile on them.
Trade & Intrigue comes with an improved Beneficial Deeds board:
The New Beneficial Deeds board provides a wider variety of in-game rewards for promoting your workers using the Town Hall action. On the old board, all you earned was a bit of extra money or +1 Development Points, plus potentially gaining a citizen if you completed one of the tracks. This new board provides a wealth of options.
Alchemy immediately lets you draw a follower from your bag, place it and, if that fills an action spot, use it. A citizen is awarded for being the one to fill the track.
The Court of Lay Assessors gives a coin when you place a follower there, but it also allows the player who places the last follower in the track to do any action on their board or place tiles for free.
Thanksgiving/Sheep Farming provides goods to those who place their followers here. Two coins are awarded for filling the track.
Coinage provides three coins, with a bonus three coins for filling the track.
Research is a new way to gain development points, with players placing followers here moving up two spots, and the player filling the track moving an additional three spots on the development points track.
Boatmen placed on Towing Servies let you move your merchant over water. A citizen is awarded for filling the track.
Architecture provides citizens and will allow the last player to place here to build a Trading House.
Town Charter is a new way for players to build Place Tiles. A citizen is awarded for filling the track.
Navigation is a new way to get technology tiles. A citizen is awarded for filling the track.
The Intrigue board adds a lot of interaction and backstabbing to Orléans:
Similar to the New Beneficial Deeds board, this module is very easy to use. You just swap out the original Beneficial Deeds board with the Intrigue Board. This new board includes all kinds of nasty things you can do to the other players when you use the Town Hall Action.
When a player uses the intrigue board to do something mean to a player the target gets the option to try to bribe their adversary. They can offer any amount of coins and/or goods to prevent the attack. If the attacker agrees they trade goods and/or coins and nothing happens.
Here’s a quick rundown on the new spots on the Intrigue board and the horrible things you can use them to do:
Fraud: Swap a good with another player. The player who completes the track gets a good of their choice from the supply.
Arsonist: Destroy a trading house of another player at the location your merchant is at. If you complete the track you can replace it with one of your own.
Kidnapper: Take a coin and return another player’s merchant to Orleans. A citizen is awarded for filling the track.
Torturer: Pay one coin and all other players must undergo torture. A citizen is awarded for filling the track.
Hangman: Every other player loses one follower. similar to the rules for the Plague event. A citizen is awarded for filling the track.
Saboteur: Take one coin and return another player’s follower to their bag. A citizen is awarded for filling the track.
Spy: Steal one technology tile from an opponent and place it in the same spot on your player board. A technology tile is awarded for filling the track.
Tax Collector: Every other player must give you two coins. Two additional coins from the supply are awarded for filling the track.
Traits: Advance on any one follower track or on the development track and move an opponent back one spot on the same track. They must have been ahead of you on that track. A citizen is awarded for filling the track.
Is it worth adding Trade & Intrigue to Orléans?
I will just start by saying that I am very glad that the new rules presented in Orléans Trade & Intrigue are optional and modular because there are some things here I love and something I don’t plan on ever using again. Let’s take a look at each new item one at a time and I will share my thoughts on each.
First off there are the new buildings. These are fine, toss them in with your existing buildings and forget about them. They aren’t going to break the game in any way and having more options when building is always a good thing.
Next are the new Orders rules. This expansion module has had mixed reviews from players of the game. Personally I really like the addition of a pickup and deliver element to the game. It greatly changes the value of goods tiles and I think that’s a good thing. In the base game, all goods really mattered for was end game points and the occasional event card. In most games players just chased the most expansive goods all the time, whereas with Orders in play there are more reasons to collect a variety of goods.
I do have one big complaint about Orders though and that’s trying to find the cities on the boards. The font used on the board for the city names is quite tiny and it’s a script-like font that’s hard to read. It’s almost impossible to read these names from across the table. I know a friend who hand-printed new city names and stuck those on to his board to fix this problem and I’m tempted to do the same.
As for Orders, overall I could take or leave this expansion depending on who I am playing with. I’m all for using it, but if we don’t I’m not going to miss it much.
Next, we have the new events. I love the new events. While there is something to be said for the perfect information presented in the original game, where you always know what events will happen each game, I found that I have way more fun with the randomness and variety of the new events. Even more importantly I appreciate that the new deck has events timed for different parts of the game. No longer will you start off the game and get taxed before you’ve collected any goods or get money for progress on tracks you haven’t touched yet.
Of all of the elements included in Trade & Intgirue, the new events are the one thing that I will use in every future game of Orleans.
The other aspect of Trade & Intrigue that I personally plan to use every game is the New Beneficial Deeds board. I think this board is a big improvement on the original. The rewards on the old board weren’t all that useful and, more importantly, just weren’t interesting. Yes, the citizens are important for end game scoring but just getting variable amounts of coins isn’t that interesting. Now we have new ways to get development points, place tiles and technology tiles. Having another way to get goods tiles is also a nice upgrade, especially when using the Orders module also included in this expansion.
Finally, we get to the Intrigue board. Straight up I have to say I don’t like this part at all. While this board does greatly increase the interaction in what can be considered a multiplayer solitaire game, it’s not the kind of interaction I find fun. The types of actions you can take on this board are just mean and overly punishing. I do not enjoy it in a game when I carefully plan out a strategy and get the exact resources I need to carry it out only to be denied by another player who uses a take that action to ruin all of my work. That is what pretty much every one of the actions on the intrigue board feels like.
Now I know there are going to be groups out there that like this style of play. I know one local group that I would bet good money won’t play Orléans without this board, but it’s not something I’ve enjoyed and neither have the other players I’ve tried using this board with. At this point, I don’t plan on ever using the Intrigue board in Orléans again.
Overall I have to say that I think Orléans Trade & Intrigue is very much worth picking up for fans of Orléans. Of the five new things included in this expansion, there are two modules (New Place Tiles, Orders) that I don’t mind using but also wouldn’t mind leaving out, there are two modules (New Event Tiles, New Beneficial Deeds Board) that I will be using every time I play the game going forward, and only one module (Intrigue Board) that I was disappointed with. Even with the module that I don’t personally like, I can still see how the “take that” gameplay style of the Intrigue element of this expansion will appeal to some groups.