A couple of days or so before the game even started some of the guys were already pledging allegiances and planning strategies and warning of other players’ previous attempts at backstabbing and failed coops. I was massively intrigued.
I didn’t pick sides yet as I wanted to leave my options open. The game depends on where you’re starting and who your “neighbors” will be. So I stayed neutral, nodding to everyone’s promises.
Come game day, we watched a quick 10 minute video to recap (or, to me, introduce) all the rules. Everyone in the group have already played the game at least once so they were rather familiar with the rules. We put the house tokens in a hat and randomly drew a token to select a starting house. I picked Greyjoy. The island dwellers. I took my seat quickly read my house bonuses and started to place my starting pieces.
After setting up I glanced around trying to figure out who’ll be my best ally. I’ve got Lannisters to the east and Stark’s to the north. (And someone to the south, which house? Baratheon)
Let’s play a couple of rounds. No need to decide on an ally just yet.
The way the game works is that you have an army and limit resources, you can only have a set number of units on the board, based on how much resource capacity you have. You take control over the map to gather resources and capture castles and wage war.
You have a couple house cards, used in battles against rival houses, and order tokens with which you carry out your orders. You can march on a rival house, attacking them or show support and make an ally’s attack more powerful. You can also attempt to neutralize or hinder a rival’s attacks.
The tokens are laid out upside down during the planning phase. After all tokens are placed the action phase begins and the tokens are revealed. This is where alliances strengthen or break for good, you can promise anything, but all is revealed in the action phase.
After a couple of rounds the game was starting to heat up. I could assist in an attack from the Starks on the Lannisters and decided to do as much to the dismay of house Lannister who promised me some land if I were to stay neutral. I didn’t have much choice however as my army was lacking and I wanted to incite war. From watching the show I was not a fan of the Lannisters, so down with them!
As a token of gratitude I was promised a castle occupied by the Lannisters. Our attack succeeded, the Lannisters fell from power.
In the previous round, house Baratheon noticed we were teaming up against the Lannisters and joined in. However, it was a short-lived little alliance. House Baratheon attacked me as soon after our joint victory.
I asked the Starks to assist in taking down House Baratheon. I was prepared to give the Starks ruling power if I was avenged.
It worked! The Starks won the game.
What We Think
A Game of Thrones: The Board Game is an excellent game full of negotiation, bluffing, and trying to find underlying motives. The game will end with bouts of sworn revenge and promised payback.
It’s a long game but every second is enjoyable.