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Subject: Never read the books! rss

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Brad Johnson
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I've been interested in this game since I heard it announced. It sounded similar to Dune, one of my all-time favorites, even without knowing much about it -- Interesting to see that similarity mentioned independently in this thread!

Now the catch: How much of an issue is it if I have never read the books? I usually tell people that if they have never read Dune (or at least seen the movie), they probably won't really enjoy the game, because it will just seem to be a senseless collection of special rules and exceptions. Will it be the same story for A Game of Thrones? Should I run out and read the books right away??
 
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Jon W
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Re:Never read the books!
tempus42 (#18383),

Yes, you should run out and read the books right away. I haven't seen the game yet, but I can unreservedly recommend these books. Check reviews on amazon.com or wherever you usually go for this sort of thing, but I think these are topnotch fantasy novels. It's very political fantasy, being based on the War of the Roses, but I think if you like all the politics and intrigue of Dune, you'll be right at home in Westeros.
 
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bruno faidutti
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Re:Never read the books!
The books are no great litterature, but they are light, easy to read, with attaching characters and intricate intriges. they feel like Alexandre Dumas writing fantasy. Read them.
 
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John Greenwood
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Re:Never read the books!
tempus42 (#18383),

I am a big fan of the books and I like the game. With that said, I think one could still appreciate the game and its design without reading the books. The mechanics of the game are solid and I don’t think that it will seem to be a
”senseless collection of special rules and exceptions.” It’s a conquest game that has some very interesting mechanics and balancing mechanisms.

I would still recommend reading the books because they are excellent and I do think that reading them would give you a greater appreciation for the game’s theme.

When incorporating the themes from the novels into the boardgame, the designer had to take license with some of the elements from them in order to keep the game consistent and balanced. For example, in the novels House Tyrell is a relatively minor house and plays more of a supporting role rather one of the chief contenders for dominance of Westeros. However, it made sense to include them as a playable faction due to their geographic location, for game balance, and to obviously accommodate a fifth player. There are other little examples but I don’t want to spoil the novels for anyone else that hasn’t read them!

In short, I don’t think the game will be confusing or senseless to you if you haven’t read the books. However, I’ll echo Jon Waddinton’s reply and recommend that you go out and read them.
 
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Jay Moore
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Re:Never read the books!
tempus42 (#18383),
I'll add my voice to the chorus of those encouraging you to read the books. They're a little wordy at times, but it's the best fantasy series I've read in a long, long time.

I've played several times with people who haven't read the books, and everyone seems to enjoy it anyway. In one of our games, a friend of mine who hadn't read them was trying to decide whether or not to backstab his neighbor -- he took a poll from those of us who read them to find out if this would be "in character" (we said yes, as it was the Lannisters invading the Starks). This was about the only time that knowledge from the books has affected play in any way.
 
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David Yamanishi
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Re:Never read the books!
faidutti (#18405),

If you like the idea of Dumas writing fantasy and haven't seen them already, try Steven Brust's "The Phoenix Guards" and "Five Hundred Years After." Fun, fun!

ps. Brust has just published part 2 of a three-part follow-up to those two titles, but you don't need to read all of them to enjoy them.
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Mike zebrowski
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Re:Never read the books!
John Greenwood (#18449),

You might want to read the books again. House Tyrell is not a minor house.

Mike Z
 
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Michael Denman
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Re:Never read the books!
1) These ARE great books and I whole-heartedly recommend them. I haven't played the game yet, but I doubt they'll really capture the feel of the books since the game doesn't emphasize the characters much. Still, it doesn't mean that the game won't still be fun.

2) I'll also second the recommendation of Steven Brust's "The Phoenix Guards". When I saw the reference to Dumas in regards to Martin's books, my first thought was that BRUST is the true heir to Dumas and nobody else comes close. Apparently, I'm not the only one who feels that way. =)
 
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John Greenwood
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Re:Never read the books!
Mike Zebrowski (#18505),

Thanks for the tip, but I actually have been re-reading them this summer and I am enjoying them immensely. You might want to re-read my post, I stated that House Tyrell is a relatively minor house. Why do I say that?

1) In the novels, House Tyrell does not make a claim for the Iron Throne. Maybe that will change in the fourth novel, but thus far their role appears to be one where they ally and give support to the other contenders rather than making a claim for themselves. Maybe I missed a chapter somewhere, but I don’t recall House Tyrell armies ever attacking anyone or trying to expand their territory militarily on their own behalf.

2) The chapters in the novels always center around particular characters in Westeros. The chapters are titled after members of House Stark, House Lannister, House Baratheon, House Targaryen, and even the Night’s Watch. There is not a single chapter centered around a member of House Tyrell.

3) When Fantasy Flight developed the collectible card game for Game of Thrones, they made only five houses as playable factions: Stark, Lannister, Baratheon, Greyjoy, and Targaryen. For some reason they didn’t pick House Tyrell. My guess is that FF probably thought that House Tyrell was “relatively minor” – as I do. Again, maybe that will change after the fourth novel.

House Tyrell may be a major house, but they are not as major as the other playable houses- hence my characterization of “relatively minor”.


 
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Mike zebrowski
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Re:Never read the books!
John Greenwood (#18558),

I had the completely opposite impression. Notice who the new queen is at the end of the third book. They are major enough for the Lannisters to court their favor.

When GRRM wants to hid information from the reader, he simply doesn't include certain character's POV. Many of the shocking turn of events in the third book would have been seen coming a mile away if GRRM had included any House Tyrell characters.

Mike Z
 
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Nicholas Jost
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Re:Never read the books!
Mike Zebrowski (#18573),
'K people. I am currently reading the books and am interested in the game...so I'm reading here and lo' and behold what do I get greated with? A spoiler! Darn ya' to heck. Any chance of editing the your comment out so further souls are not greated by that.
 
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Leiv Hodne
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Re:Never read the books!
Major spoilers for all books follow. Please maintain spoiler warnings in subsequent posts.


SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

John Greenwood wrote:

1) In the novels, House Tyrell does not make a claim for the Iron Throne. Maybe that will change in the fourth novel, but thus far their role appears to be one where they ally and give support to the other contenders rather than making a claim for themselves. Maybe I missed a chapter somewhere, but I don’t recall House Tyrell armies ever attacking anyone or trying to expand their territory militarily on their own behalf.


This isn't really correct at all.

a) House Tyrell supports Renly's claim to the throne, and it's made clear in ASOS that their main reason for doing so is to increase their influence and, not least, to place Margaery Tyrell on the throne as queen and ensure that the ensuing line of kings is descended from the Tyrells.
b) Tyrell armies are most certainly militarily active in Clash of Kings - their armies march with Renly on King's Landing at the start of the book, and at the Battle of the Blackwater, Garlan Tyrell leads the Tyrell armies in the attack on Stannis' forces.
c) In addition, I believe that in terms of sheer manpower, House Tyrell is the most powerful of the seven/eight major houses.
d) Balon Greyjoy tries to make himself a king, but unlike the Tyrells, the Greyjoys do not involve themselves with the struggle for the Iron Throne at all - no doubt preferring that the struggle goes on as long as possible.

2) The chapters in the novels always center around particular characters in Westeros. The chapters are titled after members of House Stark, House Lannister, House Baratheon, House Targaryen, and even the Night’s Watch. There is not a single chapter centered around a member of House Tyrell.

Well, this is of course true (although to nitpick, there is no member of House Baratheon that is a POV - but we all know what you meant). However, that doesn't necessarily make them a “relatively minor house” – although we would know less about the Lannisters without the Tyrion and Jaime POVs, the absence of these POVs wouldn’t really make the Lannisters a relatively minor house, would it? Also, we do see a fair amount of the Tyrells in Storm of Swords.

3) When Fantasy Flight developed the collectible card game for Game of Thrones, they made only five houses as playable factions: Stark, Lannister, Baratheon, Greyjoy, and Targaryen. For some reason they didn’t pick House Tyrell. My guess is that FF probably thought that House Tyrell was “relatively minor” – as I do. Again, maybe that will change after the fourth novel.

Well, of course it’s true that the Tyrells are not as prominent as those other five houses – at least not in terms of the number of individual cards necessary for a CCG faction. Still, House Tyrell are apparently in the pipeline as a sixth faction, so….(No, I don’t know that they’ve announced it anywhere, but they’ve dropped a “hint” which appears to be a fairly glaring reference to the Tyrells.)

House Tyrell may be a major house, but they are not as major as the other playable houses- hence my characterization of “relatively minor”.

This is certainly true, at least from a prominence-in-novels standpoint (witness my post in the other thread, where I have to ask whether Tyrell are the fifth house). Yet, if they had not included the Tyrells in the game, you could equally well have called the Greyjoys “relatively minor”, couldn’t you? The Greyjoys, after all, are not as major as the Starks, Lannisters and Baratheons, either. It’s fairly inevitable that one of the Houses would be less major than the other, and the Tyrells are active and important enough that leaving them out would have been something of an omission. I hardly see this as a clear case of ‘mechanics over theme’, as ÿou did.


Wow, that was a lot of wordage to spend on what I suppose was essentially a throwaway comment on your part. Shows what a long wait for the next book can do to you.
 
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Travis Hall
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Re:Never read the books!
tempus42 (#18383),

Like many others who have commented, I have read the books. I haven't played the game, though.

But without having played the game, I'll advise you to run out and read the books right away, at least if you have an interest in epic or political fantasy. I count these books amongst the best fantasy I have ever read.

That said, there were a few things about his setup that irked me. Westeros supposed has 8000 years of recorded history, and from what we are told of past ages, society and technology aren't much different from a couple of thousand years beforehand. The sociological implications...!

By the way, I want to know what Bruno reads when he wants a challenge, if A Song of Ice and Fire is light for him. These books might not be hard to read - I found them to really draw me in, so in that sense they are easy to read - but the plot is complex and the series is up to, what 2000 pages so far? Maybe its not War and Peace, but we aren't talking Xanth either.
 
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Jim Smith
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Re:Never read the books!
THE BOOKS ARE NOT FINISHED!!!!

Sorry to shout but while I agree the books are great I want to warn people that he's not even close to finished writing the series. I was already one of the poor souls waiting for Jordan to finish the Wheel of Time series when a friend suggested this one. She assured me that it was only supposed to be four books long and the last one was "on the way" (she works for a bookstore and keeps up with the latest news etc.) WRONG! He has since decided to milk another book out of the series and he's no where near finished with the NEXT to last book. Of course I'll be reading every one of them because they are good, but I like to warn people like me so they don't have to live in fear of their authors dying on them like I do.
 
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Leiv Hodne
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Re:Never read the books!
toothygrim (#19449),

If your friend told you that the last book was "on the way", I believe she must have been completely misinformed. To the best of my knowledge, Martin has always said that he intends the series to be six books long.

Now it is true that this may now increase to seven. However, the explanation for this is that Martin intended that the fourth book should take place five years after the end of the third one, but after writing according to this plan for a while he discovered that it wasn't working out and he'd have to write another book to cover these five years. Of course, I can't prevent you or anyone else from believing that he's simply trying to "milk another book", but I personally see no reason to disbelieve the explanation he's given.
 
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Bob Rait
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Re:Never read the books!
Findegil (#19480),
These books will not be to everybody's taste and I have doubts whether Martin will complete them successfully- I think he's got too many subplots going. Nevertheless it's the most interesting new fantasy series I've come across in thirty years. Whether it's a conscious influence or not, these books strike me as the sort of thing that might have been more commom had E R Eddison rather than Tolkien been the dominant force behind modern fantasy.
 
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Travis Hall
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Re:Never read the books!
Corund (#19481),
I think Martin will manage to wrap up his subplots. One big difference between Martin's Song and Jordan's Wheel of Time is, I think, that Martin actually finishes subplots occassionally. While I haven't read all that much of The Wheel of Time (I don't understand why they have such a strong following - the writing is fair-to-good, not great, and the distinguishing feature of the series is its length), from what I have read and what I've been told by my friends who have read the lot, Jordan never lets a subplot end. Martin definitely does, sometimes by killing off the subplot's central character! While the number of subplots has grown steadily so far, he hasn't yet reached the halfway point of the series, and I would expect the subplots to grow until then and start falling off some time after the halfway point. (Anyone read Hugh Cook's Chronicles of an Age of Darkness? Ten books or so long, and the plots of the lot of them are independent but intertwined. By the end of it, I was getting sick of it. "Yes, yes, you've managed to show that plot from an eighth point of view. You're very clever. Now can you get back to the story I'm trying to read now?"

If Martin has found that he has had to write an extra book in the middle, it explains a lot about why the release of the fourth book has been delayed a year and a half. He must have had to stop and write a completely different book.
 
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Jim Leesch
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Re:Never read the books!
Wow. You know, I've never had the evidence to support this before, but I always suspected that the overlap between boardgamers and fantasy readers but never have I seen such strong proof for it's near-complete overlap before today. This leads me to believe that the number of geeks in this world is actually smaller than is thought; it's just that we all do the samethings.

All this great discourse aside, of course you should read the books. They are all that you see advertised here. I choose to ignore the Jordan references, since my interest in Martin's story has already outlasted my interest in Jordan's repetitive, predictable pap.

As for the game, I will get some real data this weekend when I get my non-Martin reading gaming friends to play, but given the elegance of the mechanics and the depth of strategy, I can't see them not liking the game no matter what world it is set in.
 
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Travis Hall
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Re:Never read the books!
JimPAX (#20150),
You're forgetting the strong selection bias inherent in looking here for data. This little corner of BGG is devoted to a fantasy boardgame based on a series of fantasy novels. That means that naturally this area will be attracting people interested in both boardgames and fantasy novels. Look elsewhere and you will find more boardgamers with less interest in fantasy literature.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist commenting on this. It comes naturally to me, since I am a qualified statistician.)
 
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shumyum
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Re:Never read the books!
We are also being selected for people who naturally turn to the computer to learn about things. Fantasy/boardgame/computer geeks...we need a connection to collecting old jazz 78s (didn't Bael the Bard sing during a couple of the Fats Waller sessions with Victor?) and the air will REALLY get rarified.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist commenting on this. It comes naturally to me, since I am a qualified geek.)
 
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Re:Never read the books!
shumyum (#20179),

Jazz 78s? That isn't that far off. Lets see how I do.
Fantasy/boardgame/computer geeks are not far removed from Comic Book geeks. Any comic book geek worth his/her salt knows R. Crumb. R.Crumb formed/played in a band called "R. Crumb and His Cheap Suit Serenaders" that put out three albums worth of 1920s music that was originally released as singles on 78s. To tell you the truth, they are quite good. Now I am cheating a bit, but it is still vaguely close.
 
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shumyum
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Re:Never read the books!
mcbeth (#20203),

Very nice! But please allow me to fill in some gaps: There IS a comic based on a Martin prequel to AGoT (The Hedge Knight, Image Comics), and, of course, Martin's vision of Tyrion was clearly influenced by R. Crumb's short mammary-lovin' Mr. Natural.
 
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Re:Never read the books!
I bought the board game recently. After playing the game and reading more about the books, I have now bought the three available books in A Song of Ice and Fire and started to read A Game of Thrones.

I love the A Game of Thrones book so far, even though I havn't got so far into it yet. The first pages just grabbed me and pulled me in.

There is also a RPG coming out soon. It's from Guardians of Order, and is going to be available in two formats, d20 and their own Tri-Stat. Apparently George R R Martin is and old roleplayer himself.

http://www.guardiansorder.com/company/press/2003-03-18_1.htm...
 
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Re:Never read the books!
tempus42 (#18383),
Could someone explain what you're all talking about?
What are "the books"? And who is "Martin"?
 
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Travis Hall
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Re:Never read the books!
rplea (#22795),
The A Game of Thrones boardgame is based on a series of books entitled A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. The three books which have been published so far are A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords. Hopefully A Feast For Crows will come in the not-too-distant future. Does that clear it all up for you?

Travis Hall
 
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