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A Game of Thrones (First Edition)» Forums » Reviews

Subject: First Edition review rss

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Randall Silver
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As a big fan of Martin's books, it also took me five years to post my review of Game of Thrones. (seriously, I just found this completely written review on my laptop and it turns out I never posted it...) So, without further ado (and some editing):

“A Game of Thrones” is based on George R.R. Martin’s “A song of Ice & Fire.” Good booksand good tv series, but is the game any good as well? Read on, and find out for yourself.

You should know that this game is designed specifically for 5 players, but there are rules to play it with 4 or even 3 players. However, I would recommend playing with 5. There are expansions for 4 or 6 players though.
Now, let’s review!

The components

You get a lot of components with this game. For each of the five Houses, you get power tokens, influence tokens, supply tokens, even more tokens, order counters, and House cards depicting important characters. You also get wooden counters representing footmen, knights and ships.

The tokens and counters are not overly special, but they are easy to spot and recognise. The artwork is more than good enough for tokens, and the wooden counters, although very simple, get the job done.

The artwork on the cards is very good, both on the House cards and on the Westeros cards, so definitely no complaints there.
Lastly, you get three oversized tokens representing important powers. They are really big, you can’t look past them.

And the board itself, you ask? It’s big, it’s detailed, it has a lot of options and it can keep track of important things. In other words: perfect for a game like this.

The game itself

As usual with my reviews, I won’t go into many details concerning the rules, but you will get to know it a bit. We have other threads for detailed rules, so let’s see what it’s all about.

There are three phases in this game: the Westeros Phase (which is skipped on the first turn), then the Planning Phase, and then the final phase where all your orders are executed.

The Westeros phase is basically turning three cards over in sequence, and following the instructions. It’s what happens in the world, like getting supplies, mustering new units, or maybe nothing at all.

The Planning Phase is where you place orders, face down, on all of your armies. Once every player has placed all the orders they can, everything is turned over and the final phase of this turn begins: executing those orders.

The orders you can place are as follows: raid (where you can cancel a bordering raid, support or consolidate power order), march (to move troops, possible initiating an attack), defend (guess what this one does), support (where you can add strength to a neighbouring battle), and consolidate power (which gives you power tokens).

First, all the raid orders are resolved, then all the marches and supports, and finally the consolidate power orders. You can only resolve one order at a time, then it’s on to the next player. The player order is decided by a track called the Iron Throne track. First one there gets to do the first order; followed by the second player and so on. It’s that simple.

Three tracks are important: the Iron Throne track lets you know the player order, and the first one has the Iron Throne token. This gives that player the right to decide in case of a tie (except battles).
The second track is the Fiefdom track. If there is a tie in a battle, the player who is higher on fiefdoms wins the battle. If you’re first, you also have the Valyrian Steel blade, which can give you a +1 in a battle of your choice, once per turn.
And lastly, you have the King’s Court track. The higher you are, the more special orders you can use (which are more powerful than the standard orders). Also, if you’re first here, you can swap one single order on the board with one in your reserve.

So, now you only need to know two more things when it comes to battles: a footman is 1 strength, a knight is 2, and a ship is 1. In every battle, you also add one of your House cards for extra strength, and possible extra abilities. Normally, when you lose a battle, you just retreat and don’t lose units. Cards can add (or block) casualties.

You also have to watch the Supply Track to know how many armies you can have, and how big they can be.

Now, back to the Westeros Phase. In this phase, many things can happen: you can have a recount of your supplies (so your armies can grow), you can muster new troops (where there’s a city or stronghold), or you can have a Wildling attack! These also have a track to determine their strength, and it’s up to the combined powers of every player to stop, using power tokens in a “closed fist bidding”. If not exceeding or equalling the Wildling power, they can destroy quite a number of armies.

Closed fist bidding with power tokens is also the way to “win” a better place on those important tracks like the Iron Throne. The Westeros cards tell you when to bid for the tracks.

Object of the game: have the most cities and/or strongholds by the end of turn 10, or acquire 7 such territories somewhere during the game. That’s it!

Final verdict

Personally, I think this is one of the best strategy games there is, although I will admit I haven't played the second edition. A friend has it, and he says apart from the automatic 6- player possibility, there's not that much change.

The luck factor is almost 0, except for the Westeros cards, so you have only yourself to blame if all your armies get wiped out, not some dice.
Since there’s 5 players at each other’s throats, you have to watch your borders, or maybe make a deal with one or more players so you can get ahead.

Combat is easy and quick, but the House cards add some tension sometimes. Getting support from a possible ally can change the tide of battle against a common enemy, but maybe that enemy has something to offer that you can’t?

Political deals a-plenty, in other words, and how long can you trust someone? After all, he or she also wants those cities! Player interaction is great in this game (at least in our gaming group). Add good rules, a nice board, plenty of stuff to look after apart from seizing territories, and you have a fantastic game. If you like strategy games: don’t miss out on this one, it’s one of the best you’ll ever play.
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Moshe Callen
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Years ago when I bought this game, I'd never heard of "A Game of Thrones". Needless to say, that's been a while. Still good game.
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Forsman
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Second edition does change a few other things, which also means the 1st edition is much better. I am with you though a great game that doesn't last all day.
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Geoff C
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Good solid review.

IMO the first edition is vastly superior to the second. The second ed. bows to pressure to 'add stuff' and solve problems that don't exist which just dilutes the game, which revolves heavily around the planning of orders and plotting during diplomacy and bidding.

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Vander Dlonk
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I wonder how long deckbuilding for 1st ed. will be supported on Cardgamedb. Rasslin' such a huge card pool will be impractical without online help.

 
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Joel Schuster
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dlonk wrote:

I wonder how long deckbuilding for 1st ed. will be supported on Cardgamedb. Rasslin' such a huge card pool will be impractical without online help.



This is not the card game, it is the boardgame.
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Vander Dlonk
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Umbratus wrote:
dlonk wrote:

I wonder how long deckbuilding for 1st ed. will be supported on Cardgamedb. Rasslin' such a huge card pool will be impractical without online help.


This is not the card game, it is the boardgame.

Doh! Never mind.

blush

 
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