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A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition)» Forums » Reviews

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Ike Evans
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Shakopee
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No thanks needed. I'm just your everyday galactic hero.
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Preamble: Let me get this out of the way right off the bat... When it comes to the books and tv series, I'm not a huge Game of Thrones fan. I read the first book and am familiar with the world of George Martin, but I am not otherwise overly fond of a story that is a bit too... how shall I say ... grown up?

I'm not entirely sure why I went out of my way to pick up this game. I suppose, at the time, I was looking for a good campaign-style war game that I could play when I didn't have the 200 hours to sit and enjoy a game of TI3. (200 hours of TI3 - only a slight exaggeration - is still friggin' worth it if you can find the time!) But hey, now that I have it and played it a few times, I guess I need to write a review about it.

Value:

It is currently listing at about $49 on Amazon. I paid a bit more because I bought it through my local game shop. When I opened the box, I noticed I had some missing components and a board that was warped. I emailed Fantasy Flight and they were good enough to replace all the missing game pieces. Still, FF simply dropped the ball on that one.

Artwork:

To date, I don't think I have seen a single FF game that didn't look spectacular. Of almost any other gaming company out there, FF stands out as one of the best when it comes to good looking games.

In this game, I really like the attention to detail. The game feels violent and gritty, but manages to keep it all PG rated. (The game is kid friendly, without feeling kid friendly.) Any diehard fan should love the map details.

Timeframe: For a six player game, I was never careful enough to time it precisely, but I think we managed to get through a complete game in under three hours, which is not bad for nerds.

Rulebook:

Most of the rules are clearly outlined and easy to read. There are a couple of different factors (like how ships are involved in land combat) that can be a little confusing. But all-in-all, the rulebook looks great and is easy to read and comprehend.

Gameplay:

The gameplay comes with a caveat: six players only! There is a night and day difference between six players and anything less than six players. I do not recommend this game for anytime that you have less than six players. This is, by far, the biggest criticism I have of the game.

Besides that, I really like combat. I like games that get you into combat on the very first turn, especially against other players. Drop your petty pleasantries at the door: this ain't a coop game! Game of Thrones does a wonderful job of getting you right into the thick of things from the get-go.

The mode of moving armies, levying armies, and resolving combat is excellent. The thoughts of trying to out-guess your opponent, make alliances, trusting those alliances, etc. is super fun in this game. Combat itself is mostly deterministic with some luck, which strikes a great balance. People who suffer from analysis paralysis can get bogged down, but not as badly as in other games I've played.

The gameplay is straight forward enough that I think it could easily be modified to fit a completely different setting/theme.

Theme:

You are naturally going to appreciate the game if you are Game of Thrones fan than other players who are not. However, you do not have to know anything about Westeros to still enjoy the theme. The fine detail of the board and the cards that each player has specialized to their family makes for a thematically brilliant game.

Verdict:

Don't allow yourself to be turned off because of the licensed theme. This is a great game. I would probably give it another star if it didn't have the defect of really only working with six players. I generally find it to be difficult to get that many players together in an evening.

But, if you can find six players, AND you are a Game of Thrones fan, this game is a no brainer: you have to buy it. On the other hand, if you are like me in that you enjoy war games, but you aren't necessarily a huge Game of Thrones fan, it is still not a bad buy.
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Joe Reil
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Good review. This is one of my favorites, which I don't get to play that often because it's hard to get a good group together.

I agree that six is, by far, the best and the official four- and five-player variants from the rulebook are not that hot. I will say there are some fan-variants for games of that size that seem to address some of the problems with the official ones. I say "seem to" because I haven't tried any myself, but they do look promising.
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Branko K.
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Actually, the game works perfectly fine with 5 players. And for 4 players there's the Feast for crows expansion which I personally feel is even better than the vanilla game.
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Scott Randolph
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The 5-player variant, No Greyjoy, is quite enjoyable, and reasonably balanced. Pyke is unassailable, and Seaguard has a 5 strength Neutral Force token.

This 5-player variant is far superior to the out-of-the-box "No Martell" 5-player game that comes with the set. The 4-player variant; Tyrell, Baratheon, Stark and Lannister is also quite good (Pyke and Sunspear are unassailable, and the Martell areas have their standard Neutral Force tokens - I have played this more than a few times and it was quite good).
 
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