Review: A Game of Thrones the Board Game

In which I review the Game of Thrones Board Game (2nd Ed)...Wade bought the GoT board game  so we had to play it!

*SPOILER WARNING: The game and this review contain no spoilers (unless you consider the names of houses as such), however the game description on Amazon etc. mentions details from the end of Book 1: A Game of Thrones*

Game Details

Cost: £50

Players: 3-6

Play time: >3 hours (took us around 5 the first time)

The Players

We played a 4 player game so we were the houses Baratheon (Mikey), Greyjoy (Rob), Lannister (Me) & Stark (Wade). I got to be house Lannister (by random chance) so my personal goals for the game were to have all the gold and make the Starks  bend the knee.* The other 2 players are represented by defense cards on the lower section of the board.

*Disappointingly there was absolutely no gold :(

Game Play

The game is about deceit, alliances and military might. Also wildlings occasionally appear to mess up your sh*t.

Remember in the game of thrones you either win or you die!

Set-up

Every player has a set starting location and army/navy size. It's very easy to follow. I was at Casterley Rock below the Greyjoys at Pike and to the west of the Baratheons at Dragonstone. The Starks were too far north to really bother me.

Before the game starts you work out your location on the victory track (number of strongholds/castles, 7 needed to win) and determine the location on the three other tracks:

  1. Iron Throne.
  2. Fiefdoms.
  3. King's Court.

The top of each track gets the special item associated with it affording you a special bonus. The track order also affects whether you win combat draws and other mechanics:

  1. The Iron Throne - allows you to determine the winner of all non-combat draws.
  2. Valyrian Steel Blade - allows you to add +1 to any single combat in a turn (either side), win combat draws.
  3. The Messenger Raven - allows you to peek at the top wilding card or change an order after deployment.

Early turns

The game has three phases:

  1. Westeros phase - turn over three cards which represent events occuring throughout Westeros†.
  2. Planning phase - plan your various actions and place them face down on the table.
  3. Action phase - play your orders in order!

Due to a slight misunderstanding on my part I used all of my 5 starting power points on the first track betting and only got control of the Raven for it. Luckily after a few turns we were attacked by wildlings wiping out everyone else's power points and leaving me in the perfect position to seize both the Iron Throne and Raven for the next seven turns!

While the rest of us captured fairly pointless territories (except Rob who kept building more ships!) Mikey slowly captured several strongholds in the south including Harrenhal.

†Warning - may cause wilding attacks!

Mid-game

By the time we got to mid-game Mikey had managed to get into a strong lead without us really noticing. I forged an unspoken alliance with Rob and started building my army to send against Mikey. Wade started to threaten Rob's fleet and land army drawing his forces north. I had some small successes against Mikey turning the tide and taking the lead along with several strongholds.

On turn 7 I was poised to strike Mikey's nearest stronghold which would win me the game. I foolishly pointed this out during the planning phase and he committed more troops to the cause. I should really learn to keep my mout shut when my 'obvious' plan could be threatened :S

Final turns

As we entered the last few turns two wildling attacks reduced my power points and then we once again bet on the tracks. I lost all of my advantages as Rob took the Iron Throne and Mikey took the Valyrian Sword (which I had for about a turn).

With a few turns left I tried to attack as many castles and strongholds as I could but couldn't get through Mikey's defense. Then I stupidly pointed out to Rob that he 'was totally going to attack me' and so he promptly did *facepalm*. Next time I'll keep my secret plans and thoughts to myself and I might actually win. Rob's late game treachery secured Mikey's victory for House Baratheon.

Also I didn't get a chance to make the Starks bend the knee - there's always next time.

Conclusion

I'd compare this game to Risk as it is the obvious corollary. This is much more tactical than Risk as your combat chances are not swayed by random chance with dice rolls. If you're cold and calculating (and keep your mouth shut) you can win the battles you expect to. There's also a lot more bluffing and forging/breaking of alliances. A lot of fun if enjoy stabbing your friends in the back.

I thoroughly enjoyed the game and would definitely recommend it. It may cost a fair bit but you get a lot of game, definitely worth setting aside a whole afternoon for!

Tom Out!

P.S. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Game-Thrones-Board-2nd-Edition/dp/1589947207

P.P.S http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/103343/a-game-of-thrones-the-board-game-second-edition