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Subject: Paying the Iron Price rss

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Raf B
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It was more than an hour after midnight when I, Stannis Baratheon, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, had last looked at the clock. Mace Tyrell and I had reached an accommodation in the south, after I'd persuaded him not to listen to the silken promises of the Starks. This freed me to land an army at White Harbor and stave off the Northerners' threat to invade the ports I controlled along the Narrow Sea. Together with the Tyrells, we pushed back Tywin Lannister and occupied Casterly Rock to thwart once and for all his scheme to control the Seven Kingdoms. Of course, it was then that the Starks brought forth their hidden strength and descended the length of Westeros, destroying all in their path and claiming dominion of Westeros. Would that I had listened to Ser Davos's counsel and marched on Winterfell...

Risk: Game of Thrones delivers. When I bought it, I was mainly concerned about two things: value and fun. I read a couple reviews, traded in some old bits and bobs for store credit, and took the plunge. My game group and I were not disappointed. Sure, there's no Wall and no army of the dead, but otherwise there's enough flavor and fun here to stifle any buyer's remorse.

VALUE

If all the box held was a board, a few dice, baggies of armies and papery cards, it would be a let down. But there are two (!) boards, traditional plastic Risk boxes to hold your armies, and lots of cardboard tokens for knights, siege engines, fortifications, and gold. There are red and black 8-sided dice to complement the standard Risk 6-sideds. In short, there's a lot of bits in the game, and had USAopoly lavished true collectors edition chrome on every element, it would have certainly driven the price still higher.

Aesthetics were compromised in places. On the downside, the design of the special unit tokens and gold is lacking. If this becomes a staple of our game nights, I may have to splurge on some nicer coinage (cardboard coins with '500' and '100' printed on them are pretty meh). There were surprising upsides. Although the playing pieces are small, I was surprisingly happy with the effect: the single army units nicely evoke the faceless men-at-arms recruited and slaughtered each turn, the plastics are vibrant, and the three-unit pieces handsomely evoke the war tables seen in the HBO series, even at the very small scale. Lannister lions, Stark wolves, etc. ensure the theme is ever present. The color scheme of the board is nice, the larger regions are easy to see. My complaints are limited again to design aspects: the font of the territory names is blocky and the castle and port icons look like clip art devoid of the HBO show's flavor.

FUN

Playing was much more fun than I anticipated. I rather expected this to be a novelty game evening, with the game's longevity uncertain. But the next morning, the host texted to say he couldn't wait until the next play.

As seasoned Risk players, we jumped right in to the fullest version of the rules. This game comes with two options: Game of Thrones Lite (basic Risk on a map of Westeros) and Game of Thrones Medium (the so-called Domination game played with gold, objective cards for missions, and the first player to clinch 10 points wins). The Game of Thrones Heavy option is of course FFG's strategy board game - it's just a bit of a harder sell with the crowd I game with.

Each player has four characters who can influence gameplay when you tap them (i.e. pay the 100, 200, or 300 gold printed on their card), adding some nice strategic dilemmas. Ser Davos, for instance, allowed me to add +1 to all my dice when attacking a region with a port, but that was only good for one invasion, and I often wanted to attack more than one port region. Brienne of Tarth allowed Tyrell to roll 8-sided dice to defend against one invasion.

We didn't kick off the game until 10 p.m. and required maybe half an hour to settle down, cover the new rules, and start claiming our territories on the Westeros board (for 3-5 players; the game supports 6-7 players by adding the board for Essos, across the Narrow Sea). The action began immediately. Continent bonuses are limited in significance (the Reach is worth 4, the North is worth 5, while several others are worth 1 or 2), but castles and ports get you additional men and gold, so no one lost any time grabbing the most valuable territories that had both a castle and a port.

A FEAST FOR GAMERS

There were only a few times we had to consult the rulebook. Play was smooth, allowing all to focus on the diplomacy, trash talk, and die-rolling of any good Risk game. The 8-sided dice and special unit bonuses made battles deadlier and, at least in this single session, kept the game from bogging down into stalemate. It was 2:30 a.m. when, with all four of us within reach of 10 victory points, House Stark won. But none of us regretted the late night.

In a few weeks, I hope to break out both boards for a 7-player bout of Risk: Game of Thrones. Given the anticipation I'm feeling, I'd say this one's a keeper.
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Robert F-C
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Great review.
 
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Andrew C.
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Rafamir wrote:

A FEAST FOR GAMERS

There were only a few times we had to consult the rulebook. Play was smooth, allowing all to focus on the diplomacy, trash talk, and die-rolling of any good Risk game. The 8-sided dice and special unit bonuses made battles deadlier and, at least in this single session, kept the game from bogging down into stalemate. It was 2:30 a.m. when, with all four of us within reach of 10 victory points, House Stark won. But none of us regretted the late night.

In a few weeks, I hope to break out both boards for a 7-player bout of Risk: Game of Thrones. Given the anticipation I'm feeling, I'd say this one's a keeper.


Yesterday evening I play my first 2 games of Risk Game of Thrones.
After the first game when we play skirmish mode to prepare wifes to the great war ( Lannister - me - won ) we start with the real game ... RISK IN DOMINION MODE.
More or less 2.45 min. before me and my Lannister win again, but just because my wife with Baratheon was wrong to read / understand a victory point card :-) :-)
We each had reach seven or eight victory point so the battle ending in few turns.
The game went on fast and easy to play ... only objective cards were reshuffled twice.
The game was good and fun , the only problem ( if we want to call it) was that near the end of the game all players (4) had in hand a lot of objective cards 5/6 mininum + many of them had been played ( and not discarded or reshuffled ) and so the deck was very small with cards we previously discarded .
For the rest I would say everything is ok and all 4 had fun.
I hope very soon as possible to try game with 6/7 players to call also Daenerys' dragons to fight with us :-) :-)
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Raf B
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The Lannisters have some strong characters! It sounds like you were allowing players to purchase more than one objective card per turn. The rules are not crystal clear, but my reading is at the beginning of your turn you may pay 200 gold to draw two objectives and discard one, that's all.
 
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Andrew C.
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Rafamir wrote:
The Lannisters have some strong characters! It sounds like you were allowing players to purchase more than one objective card per turn. The rules are not crystal clear, but my reading is at the beginning of your turn you may pay 200 gold to draw two objectives and discard one, that's all.


Yes but not only me with Lannister.
Everyone of us buy Objective Cards ( and only one not two or more - our personal rule ) at the beginning of our turn ( 2 draw 1 keep ) and a lot of time another draw at the end of turn when we earn victory point ... so a lot of Objective cards are in hand and few in deck.
My fear is when you play in 6/7 players ... if everyone have 5 objective cards in hand, there isn't a deck to draw :-( :-(
 
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Raf B
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I reread the rules on claiming objectives and found that we had been playing incorrectly and not drawing new objectives after completing one. Thanks for bringing it up!

I suppose if people are holding onto objectives then the discards will get reshuffled into a new deck and eventually those will run out too, and players will have to manage their strategy to achieve some of the ones they are holding onto.

 
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Robert "Smitty" Smith
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I can't imagine it with 7 folks - all my gamer friends seem to live hours away but...the review convinced me there is enough there for good solo play to capture some oft he flavor.

AND...my wife is the one pushing to buy it!

Smitty
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