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A Game of Thrones: A Storm of Swords Expansion» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Personal impressions of gameplay rss

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El-ad David Amir
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I wholeheartedly recommend divisionbyzorro's initial review (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/118438). It has an excellent explanation of the new mechanics.

(One idea that is missing, I believe, is how important power is with the expansion: apart from bidding on the tracks, it's also used to purchase allies, activate some of the character cards' special abilities, and bidding on Claim Westeros. Power directly translates into points with the expansion, and can be manipulated and stolen.)

The new four player variant is, in our playgroup's opinion, much superior to the original four or five players game. We've played three games so far, and unlike the originals, which were shunned by our playgroup, people are actually asking to play again. The gameplay flows nicely and rarely gets "stuck", and even the weaker players can feel they're affecting the results of the game. Additionally, the game is more balanced, with each army (except Stark) winning once, and Stark getting to seven points.

The Leaders are a brilliant addition. They are simple to understand and require no memorization (unlike the one-time orders from the first expansion) and allow new military moves that were missing in the original. They also add a new diplomatic element, with trading leaders (or, more frequently, exchanging one's lost leaders for power) sealing a truce or encouraging players to interfere in troublesome disputes. This is also the place to mention the rare possibility of stealing markers (Iron Throne, Valyrian Blade and Messenger Raven) and track positions, which keeps the players constantly alert.

The Claim concept, which allows you to gain points by either conquering territory, playing certain cards or winning the Claim Westeros bid, greatly increases the versatility of possible strategies. Careful diplomacy may allow a player to easily defend his territories while still gaining points and advancing in the game. This, combined with the above mentioned importance of power, makes the various bidding cards a fascinating minigame of bluffing and intrigue.

However, the gameplay is also much more intense and demanding. The territories are "squashed" together, and leaders and certain tactic cards allow crossing half of the map on a single turn. Some mistakes, which may appear painless when the orders are first flipped up, can quickly mean the complete defeat of a player. This results is double and triple checking orders and calculating and recalculating the math, which may become tedious, and frustrating for weaker players. Additionally backstabbing is extremely rewarding, even more than the originals.

I would also like to mention that some of the ally cards are much too powerful, from our experiance (for example those allowing one to traverse freely over rivers). We believe they require some sort of official errata.

One final note (which contains several book spoiler):
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Story-wise, the game is far from accurate. Amongst others, Lannister hold Eddard Stark as a prisoner (although he's already been executed), Stannis Baratheon has Renly as a character (Renly is supposed to be dead, and either way not supporting Stannis), Littlefinger is available as a Vale leader (though he was still on his way to Highgarden), and other small details which conflict with the story. This is disappointing, and could have been easily fixed, especially considering the original game and the first expansion were quite faithful to the books.


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Nate Merchant
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MrSkeletor wrote:
IirionClaus wrote:

One final note (which contains several book spoiler):


I'm actually happy that this expansion doesn't follow the book, as it would have contained WAY to may spoilers!


I'm just happy I'll never read the books, or I would have been spoiled. But not the way you think...

Good report, El-ad. I, too, have loathed this game but am willing to give it another shot with the x-pac.
 
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Michael Sillion
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MrSkeletor wrote:


I'm actually happy that this expansion doesn't follow the book, as it would have contained WAY to may spoilers!


Yes and the Game itself does "seldom" follow the books either
 
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El-ad David Amir
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Sillion wrote:

Yes and the Game itself does "seldom" follow the books either

I don't think it can ever follow the books... There is no element of intrigue or politics, only military aspects.
 
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Travis Hall
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On the issue of the game not matching the novels...

IirionClaus, I think you are comparing the ASOS boardgame to the ASOS novel, when really the boardgame just shares the name, not the time period. I think the start of the boardgame is intended to correspond to the start of military conflict. I think that will clear up some of your objections.

And the original game was never faithful to the books. If it did, Lannister would start the game in a much stronger position. But this has been addressed under the AGOT entry.
 
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El-ad David Amir
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Wraith wrote:
...when really the boardgame just shares the name, not the time period...


This is correct regarding the original, however, the second expansion covers the third book and more specifically, the battle of the trident. As mentioned in my spoiler above, there are some differences.

The game is still excellent, by the way. The fact that it's not true to the book is just a small, insignificant remark.
 
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Blue Jackal
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I personally find the 5 or 6 player game experience to be far preferable to 4 player ASoS, and everyone else agrees.

I'm not saying ASoS is bad... I think it's good, just not great. Our group finds little incentive to interfere with the other conflicts. Thinking back to a recent game, we could've probably prevented Stark from winning (we finished at about 5 AM and we started at about 1:30 AM)... but there until that point, there was really little incentive to get involved in the other pair of players' affairs.
 
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Travis Hall
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IirionClaus wrote:
This is correct regarding the original, however, the second expansion covers the third book and more specifically, the battle of the trident.

I'm not sure that is true. They call it that Battle of the Trident, but really the game covers the events leading up to the Battle of the Trident as well. The bulk of Stark's forces begin in the Twins, which indicates to me that the game most likely starts at about the point when
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Robb made his alliance with the Freys and were permitted to travel through the Twins towards the South.


The Battle proper, in the novels, would be measured from the first engagement, I would think. Stark forces certainly isn't ready to engage Lannister on turn 1 of the boardgame, and in the novel the Greyjoys deliberately avoid engaging the Stark forces. If the game was supposed to be only the Battle proper, Stark should be starting much further south, and possibly Lannister further north.

I'm re-reading the novels at the moment. When I get to that, I'll see if I can pinpoint the appropriate time period for the start of ASOS.
 
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El-ad David Amir
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Wraith wrote:
I'm not sure that is true. They call it that Battle of the Trident, but really the game covers the events leading up to the Battle of the Trident as well.

I haven't explained myself well- it's not EXACTLY the Battle of the Trident, as the battle itself is too short for such a boardgame. As you said, it's the events leading to the battle.
 
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Travis Hall
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Well, I came across the start of the Riverlands conflict rather earlier than I expected. In the first novel, Lannister forces engage and crush Tully forces along one branch of the Trident, near Riverrun, after having led them to believe they would only be engaging raiders when in fact a major Lannister force was marching north. Tywin and Kevan explain this to Tyrion around page 600 (in my paperback copy).

This is completely at odds with the starting position of the ASOS boardgame. As I don't recall anything from FFG saying that the boardgame covers the events of the third novel exclusively, I conclude that the name of the expansion is given simply because it is the third volume of the boardgame series, not for a specific connection with the events of the third novel.

And I'd say that the ASOS boardgame picks up from about halfway through the first novel.

I've got no idea where Littlefinger is at this time.
 
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Cameron McKenzie
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Wraith wrote:
Well, I came across the start of the Riverlands conflict rather earlier than I expected. In the first novel, Lannister forces engage and crush Tully forces along one branch of the Trident, near Riverrun, after having led them to believe they would only be engaging raiders when in fact a major Lannister force was marching north. Tywin and Kevan explain this to Tyrion around page 600 (in my paperback copy).

This is completely at odds with the starting position of the ASOS boardgame. As I don't recall anything from FFG saying that the boardgame covers the events of the third novel exclusively, I conclude that the name of the expansion is given simply because it is the third volume of the boardgame series, not for a specific connection with the events of the third novel.

And I'd say that the ASOS boardgame picks up from about halfway through the first novel.

I've got no idea where Littlefinger is at this time.


I like to think of the neutral force at Riverrun as an abstraction of the early conflict between Lannister and Tully there. The Tully forces are under siege, but are well enough supplied to hold out, while the Lannister forces lack the strength to assault the stronghold. In order for Stark to take it, they have to bring an army to defeat the Lannisters and lift the siege. In order for Lannister to take it, they have to bring more forces in so they can assault the castle
So in my mind at least, the neutral forces just represent the amount of force it would take to tip the conflict at Riverrun one way or the other.

It's been quite a while since I read the novels so my memory may be a little fuzzy.
 
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