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A Game of Thrones (first edition)» Forums » General

Subject: Never read the books rss

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Andrew DeNeen
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I have never read the books but I am looking for a good strategy/war game to play with friends and family. Right now we play Settlers of Catan and Risk. Would this be a good game, or should I look elsewhere?

Thanks for the input.

Andrew
 
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Francesco Grimaldi
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Firstly you should buy all the books, then think about the game...that IMHO is difficult and not for everybody....
 
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Mark Reist
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The game is a lot like Diplomacy, and consequently, is a good way to lose friends and family. That is, unless they can respect a good bit of backstabbing on your way to victory. If so, great!

Otherwise, you might want to look in another direction for a wargame. Maybe something along the lines of War of the Ring.
 
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Rusty McFisticuffs
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inzivro wrote:
Firstly you should buy all the books, then think about the game...that IMHO is difficult and not for everybody....

That's bogus. I've never read the books, and I like this game a lot.

As far as figuring out whether this game might be your kind of thing, you can download the complete rules from the publisher's site; I recommend reading them & seeing what you think. (Regarding the War of the Rings suggestion, A Game of Thrones is definitely easier to learn.) And this game doesn't require backstabbing; if only one person in your group plays that way, that person will probably pull out a surprise victory in their first game, and then do pretty poorly in every game after.
 
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Charles Hasegawa
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If your group can play Risk without killing each other, you can probably handle the emotional load of AGoT. That being said...

Its not necessary to have read the books, though they add a lot more flavor and understanding to the THEME of the game. For instance, the Wilding Attacks and the Night Watch portion of the game is nothing more than another game mechanic if you've never read the books. If you have, then the whole series of actions makes a bit more sense. Again, not required to enjoy the game.

Also, its not like Risk. If you and your friends are expecting an all out straight forward wargame like Risk, you won't get it. Because you never know when your troops will muster (ie you increase your army with replacements), the limitations to the number of armies you can have on the board, and the fact that each house plays differently and uniquely, you may not like the game if you are a fan of Risk. I like "Risk-like" games, but I really like this game because each house is different and because of the uncertainty. Its also a bit more strategic since luck will effect everyone the same way (ie the randomness of the game is in the events that happen to everyone at the same time), otherwise combat is purely strategic, no luck to effect the outcome.
 
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KB
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I read the first book, and loved it. Got my son hooked, too. But the game? I really don't like the game at all. Hmmm. Not very helpful, so I'll try to explain: the pace of the book was excellent, but the game seemed to bog down over the decision making. To be fair, I was playing with my son and his 13 year-old friends, but still, the few times it has come over on games night, people have to be talked into playing it (by the lad who brings the game over) and then I have to explain partway through the game that it is bad manners to quit the game halfway through. Part of it is that is simply a longer playing game, and the boys like to get in more than one game over the evening. That can't be it entirely, though, because the owner has tried to plan all day events so that they can play it to the end, and so far no one has taken him up on it. It may be just a bit out of there age/skill range.
 
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Mike N.
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Check out the rules ahead of time. This gane has a lot of mechanics that aren't quite straightforward. The time frame is similar to Risk with a 10-turn limit.

You don't need to read the books, all they do is give personalities to the battle cards.
 
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Andreas Josefsson
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Hmm, personally I don't think is a game for everybody. I'd recommend Antike or wait for the reprint/rethemeing of Wallenstein that will be released later this spring by as Shogun. You should also check out Conquest of the Empire where you get two games for the price of one (basic game and the adaptation of M.Wallace's Struggle of Empires)

/Andy
 
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Philip Thomas
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I think this game is quite a big step up from Risk (or Settlers, but Risk is probably closer). Complexity, different nations having different abilities and positions and so needing to be played differently, and the blind bidding and bluffing like combat are all quite advanced notions.

I haven't read the books and I don't like the game. But whether that is because I haven't read the books, I don't know. It is better than Risk anyway.

Having a mental blank as to a suitable game between Risk and AGOT in complexity, but I'm sure one of the other geeks here can suggest one...(War of the Ring is actually more complex than AGOT, I think, plus it is really only for 2 players).


 
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Ken B.
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Sounds like Nexus Ops may be another good choice...a step up from Risk with a tiered combat system, plays relatively quickly, and has plenty of "exploration" and conquest in a nice one-hour or so timeframe.

A Game of Thrones is a game that, like many of FFG's games, polarizes opinions. I own a copy, but I recommend you download the rule book from FFG's website and see if it sounds like the level of complexity you're looking for.
 
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Rusty McFisticuffs
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Philip Thomas wrote:
Complexity, different nations having different abilities and positions and so needing to be played differently, and the blind bidding and bluffing like combat are all quite advanced notions.

How you choose to play your nation isn't part of the rules, though. And I don't think the blind bidding used in the influence tracks or combat is any more advanced than the die rolls or cards used in Risk... (that is, if you can handle one, you'll be able to handle the other.)
 
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Charles Hasegawa
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kuhrusty wrote:
Philip Thomas wrote:
Complexity, different nations having different abilities and positions and so needing to be played differently, and the blind bidding and bluffing like combat are all quite advanced notions.

How you choose to play your nation isn't part of the rules, though. And I don't think the blind bidding used in the influence tracks or combat is any more advanced than the die rolls or cards used in Risk... (that is, if you can handle one, you'll be able to handle the other.)


Agreed. Its not the rules and mechanics that are far more complex (though the rules make things sound more complex than they are), but as a whole, the game itself is far more complex than Risk. There are more things to consider than just your position on the board.
 
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shumyum
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I agree that Nexus Ops is a good first step beyond Risk and I'll also recommend Vinci (is that still in print?). A Game of Thrones is more than a couple steps *involved* than Risk so be prepared to dig down if you want to play it. It may be worth it though: I know quite a few people who love the game who haven't read the books.

But I'll also tout the books. My wife, who never reads fantasy, got addicted to the series. It's a dark raunchy political soap opera that goes against type exactly when it needs to. Definitely not mindless, but first and foremost: fun.
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Mike Evans
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Don't get either the books or the game.

The first book (can't speak to the rest, as one was enough for me) basically equates to a man-friendly soap opera. One thing I will say is that the books and the game share the sense of sitting around waiting for something to happen.

That's my biggest complaint of the game. I have not quite mastered the art of 'I'm your friend for now, while I attack so and so'. Then, changing allegiances later. So, I lose. Quickly. If you don't set up the correct alliances early, you lose. I have played games where the dying took 3 hours.

Of course, I've been told I'm crazy on both counts, so who knows...
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Jonathan Benton
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Hmmm, Love both the books and the game, just to get that out of the way first. I think it helps if you have read the books, but certainly not a requirement.

A soap opera for men? Let's compare, shall we?

Soap operas are known for their laughable dialogue and plotlines.

Martin's series is known for its gritty realism. Just because the books contain mature content and strong violence which don't appeal to some people, doesn't necessitate a "soap opera" label, and I think the adult content is why a lot of people don't care for the books.

C.S. Lewis once said that someone who does not like mysteries should not review mystery novels. I'd take that principle one step further and say that if a book contains elements that you are not comfortable with, that is going to bias your opinion fairly strongly.

And what one might call "sitting around waiting for something to happen," another might call character development, a feature sadly lacking in 99% of fantasy today. But then again, I've never been a big fan of "action" fantasy, with the emphasis on fighting like Salvatore and others seem to churn out.

I suspect that people who don't like Martin don't have much time for The Godfather either, for much the same reasons.

As for the game, I love the fact that combat has no luck factor. I love the political/intrigue aspects that are incorporated from the books. I love the idea of planning out your entire turn (to an extent) and watching those plans succeed or fail based on how well others planned for their turns. And gamesmanship (to me, at any rate) is at least partially defined as the ability to convince others that you are not a threat/others are a threat, thus enhancing greatly the diplomacy aspect of the game. For these reasons and more I'd say that it is a much better game than Risk-type games, which can degenerate into dice-fests.

Conquest of the Empire is also worth a look, however, at least with the new rules, which have some similarities to El Grande and A Game of Thrones.
 
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shumyum
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My comparison to a soap opera was not pejorative. I has to do with the huge cadre of important characters and plotlines peppered with a good share of intrigue and unexpected events. Also, soap operas never end...
 
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Dane Peacock
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I just finished reading the seventh book, "A Game of Waiting Until Hell Freezes Over." Everyone dies. Every important character in the story ends up dead. Of course, you probably already guessed that.
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Stephen Groves
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I love the game and never intend to read the books. It has an interesting movement/combat system based on hidden chits, and has the Euro factor of cards dictating phases. Note that there are balance issues, depending on your starting point, but that just forces the negotiation and diplomacy which is at the heart of this game(apparently the expansion aCoK aids balancing but I do not have a copy).

There is a strong theme in this game of warring political factions which works really well. In my mind you'd need to read the books to enjoy this game as much as you'd need to read the Lord of the Rings to enjoy the movies.
 
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shumyum
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sevorges wrote:
In my mind you'd need to read the books to enjoy this game as much as you'd need to read the Lord of the Rings to enjoy the movies.


But if you enjoyed the movies, why not try reading the books???
 
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Andrew DeNeen
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WOW...Thanks for the input. I'll try reading the rules online and maybe pick up the first book and see if I like it before making a purchase. I appreciate all the input. Happy gaming.
 
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Mike Evans
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Quote:
I'd take that principle one step further and say that if a book contains elements that you are not comfortable with, that is going to bias your opinion fairly strongly.

Agreed. I wasn't uncomfortable with the content, it's just not what I expected. I didn't know exactly what I was getting into with the book. The whole family/political conflict thing from the game (which I played first) had me thinking the book might be something Dune-ish. Maybe that set my expectations too high.

Quote:
And what one might call "sitting around waiting for something to happen," another might call character development

I'm all for character development, but for the number of pages devoted to character development he creates some flat, un-interesting characters. I think I could tell who I was meant to care about, but I didn't. From everything I've read everyone thinks the characters are fascinating, so I know I'm in the minority.

That is what I meant by the soap opera comment. There are a ton of flat characters, that I don't care about and I am only driven to continue because I'm invested in a storyline with a bunch of cliffhangers.
 
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Jason Maxwell
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For anyone considering starting the books. Don't get attached to any characters, they all undergo massive changes that leave them significantly different than they are when they first show up in the story.

Great books so far though (Haven't read the new one yet).
 
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Dane Peacock
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JasonRMax wrote:
For anyone considering starting the books. Don't get attached to any characters, they all undergo massive changes that leave them significantly different than they are when they first show up in the story.

Great books so far though (Haven't read the new one yet).


I agree with this. I am surprised to read that some people see the characters as flat.
 
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Matthew McCormick
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I am a huge fan of both the books and the game. However, the game is built to stand alone - knowing the books just adds some extra fun. The game's main strength is its balance - if a house has plenty of muster points nearby, it struggles with supply; if one has strong house cards, they are potentially offset by a constrained theatre of operations. Of course, none of these challenges is insurmountable, and it is part of the game's replayability to try each house with differing strategies.

My personal favourite aspect is how the hidden order mechanic forces players to plan flexibly.

Reading the rules will give a good idea of this.
 
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Jim Scheiderich
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1 AGOT: played a couple of times and look forward to being able to get necessary group together to play. Yes, one has to play carefully compared to Risk (see previous comments about backstabbing - however I never recall a game of Risk where any promise was long keptarrrh).

2 Martin's books: Great. Sort of a condemnation of men - as just about everyone screws everyone else over. Greed, lust for power (sounds like anytoday's news). Its all there. Don't need to read to enjoy the game. IMHO after reading the books, wish the game had more to it - minor houses and what not (where is Rich Berg when you need him...). I understand that FFG was/is considering another game that went to AGOT in a different manner - more detail etc.

3 Risk 2210 is another step up. Not as quick playing as Nexus Ops but has a fair number of strategies to pursue. Given the 5 turn game length, there is no slow growth and hope someone else does your dirty work for you as in original Risk.

4 Someone suggested Vinci - this is great but more of an empire building (and dying) game than one of conquest. Wallenstein is also outstanding but it almost too short in my opinion - finding a copy will be an issue.

5 If you like SciFi themed games, Twilight Imperium is excellent but it will take a bit of work on the rules and getting people up and going. Its probably a step past your next venture but you shoudl go there if your group likes games a lot and are willing to put in some play time.

6 Fantasy: consider Quest for the Dragon Lords. Expansion added two races and considerable theme elements but added a bit of complexity. Try it with 4 player basic version first and use the toned down rules for Elves and the Dragonlords. Ratings are from 1 to 10. But comments like "I hated it at the second turn" and its only some form of dressed up Risk I think miss the mark. Cannot play it like Risk at all. Races do have differences that make it interesting though some may be more powerful. Hey if one wants every cube/unit/mini to have the same ability then stick with Risk.
 
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