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A Game of Thrones: The Card Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Core Set and LCG format review rss

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Preface: I play the LCG, but have only played once or twice in the "out of the box" format. I have two or more of each chapter pack that has been produced to date, as well as three core set boxes, and exclusively play with decks that I have constructed myself.

I will try to set up this review in sections, to help potential players find the parts that answer the questions that they have.

One area that still causes some confusion is the idea of random distribution and rarity. The AGoT CCG had a mix of fixed (starters and legacy packs) and random (boosters) packages, the LCG does not.
All LCG products have fixed (non-random) distribution. You always know what you will be getting in any given pack.
Lists of what is in each pack are published at http://www.tzumainn.com/agot/ which is a fantastic reference for AGoT LCG and CCG.

GAME PLAY:
AGoT is a card based game where players compete to amass the most power tokens. Power tokens are gained by winning "power" challenges, by winning "unopposed" challenges, by winning "Dominance" (having the most strength on characters who remain "standing" at the end of the turn), and by card effect. Generally, the first player to amass 15 power tokens wins. Unlike many CCGs, the game is not based on whittling away your opponent's life/strength, but by building up your own supply of power.

Characters, Locations, and attachments generally enter play and begin each turn "Standing", and "Kneel" to perform certain actions. Once knelt, they need to stand again before they can be used again. There are cards that don't kneel in certain situations, and other cards that can stand (themselves or others) during the course of the turn.

Challenges are the core for directly attacking your opponent/s. Each player may perform one each of the three different challenge types during the challenge phase. The challenge types are MILITARY, which kills off your opponents characters if you win, INTRIGUE, which allows you to randomly discard cards from your opponents hand if you win, and POWER, which allows you to move power tokens from your opponent's "house card" (this is kind of a central repository for your power tokens, although sometimes characters or other cards will also collect power) to your house card if you win. The amount of "claim" the number of characters you kill, cards you discard, or power tokens you take is the claim value on your current "Plot" card.

Plot cards are something that makes the game very interesting and different. In addition to your normal play deck (usually 60 or more cards, but smaller when playing the core set "out of the box") you have a plot deck of 7 cards. Each turn, you select and play one of your plots. The plots give you your base income for the turn, determine initiative order, and tell you how large your claim will be (claim is usually 1, sometimes 2). Plot cards also have a text effect that may help you in that game turn.

JOUST & MELEE: The game may be played in the two player, "Joust" mode, or several players may play a "Melee" game. Melee games bring into play "Titles". Each turn, players select a title that gives them a special ability to use that turn, as well as letting them know which other title-holder/s they support and oppose in the politics of the court.
Titles add another dimension to the game, as you must weigh the special abilities against each other, and you can use your choice of title to force another player to support you (i.e. they can't initiate challenges against you that turn). You also get to claim an extra power if you win a challenge against a player who you oppose. There are many cards that perform better in melee due to special abilities that can only be used "if you have more than one opponent" - but don't think that makes them useless in joust.

CORE SET:
The core set comes with tokens for Gold and power, along with pieces that correspond with the different titles, and a board to help organize the spare tokens, as well as help show how the titles interact.
It also comes with preconstructed decks for four (Baratheon, Lannister, Stark, and Targaryen) of the game's six houses, and house cards for the other two (Greyjoy and Martell).
The core set preconstructed decks tend to only have one, or at most two, of any given card. When players build their own decks, they may include up to 3 copies of any given card. This means that the out of the box decks are not built to compete with player constructed decks. They are built to play against each other.
As I said, these decks are designed to be played against each other. Because there aren't multiple copies of key cards, the decks are less efficient at getting key cards into your hand, but they do give you more card options.
Each deck has a mix of house specific cards, that play to the strengths and character of that house, as well as neutral cards. For a casual play group, playing with the out of the box decks is fine. It will let you enjoy the game, and give you a chance to learn the mechanics. You will find that Stark is more directly confrontational, excelling in military challenges, but with a weakness for intrigue, Lannister generates more income, so can do more each turn, Baratheon has more ways to claim power, and Targaryen has Dragons and manipulates attachments. Players may find that one house fits their play style better.
While one can certainly play two of the decks against each other in a joust, the core set decks work best in melee games.

EXPANDING FROM THE CORE SET:
A good starting point for expansion is to get a second Core Set. This allows you to do the most basic deck construction - doubling up on cards that you like in the deck, and removing the ones that don't work as well for you. Having two (or three) copies of a unique character allows you to play a duplicate on the character, and discrad the duplicate to save them from death or being discarded (very useful with the Valar plot in the mix). You can also build a plot deck of plots that you like. Remember that (unless the plot card specifically allows otherwise) you may only have one copy of any given plot in your plot deck.
The other way to expand your card pool is to pick up some Chapter Packs.


CHAPTER PACKS:
Chapter packs are monthly updates to the LCG card pool. Each pack introduces 20 new cards and contains a total of 40 actual cards. Ten of the cards in each chapter pack come in play sets of three cards. There are single copies of the other ten. What this usually means is that general purpose cards come with as many as you'd need in a deck, while unique characters and plots come one per pack. Sometimes this means that you will want to buy two or three copies of a chapter pack, to get full playsets of certain cards. While this is annoying to some, who see it as a way for FFG to sell more Chapter Packs, it is certainly much cheaper and easier than trying to acquire three copies of a given rare card in a CCG.

The Chapter Packs are released in series of six packs that share a common theme. The entire first set of chapter packs and parts of the second set of chapter packs were actually designed to be released as a booster pack CCG release. This means that the first six Chapter Packs have black bordered cards, and that some of the cards in the first 12 Chapter Packs have keywords or themes that are not (yet) well supported in the LCG format. Two cards from the first six Chapter Packs have even had to be banned from LCG play because they are too powerful at this time. The early Chapter Packs do contain a lot of powerful and useful cards, and you should consider getting them. One in particular - "Ancient Enemies" contains a series of plot cards that are very powerful and useful in the LCG format.
With the Kings Landing set of Chapter Packs that will start coming out in May, you will see how these Chapter Pack series are really designed to work.

OTHER EXPANSIONS:

A preconstructed Greyjoy deck has been announced for June release. Speculation is that a Martell deck will follow at some point.

Cards from the CCG era of AGoT are compatible with the LCG cards, just not in official events. Many players really enjoy the depth of card pool playing with the Iron Thrones block, Five Kings block, and LCG block cards. Please be aware that all players should agree to this type of play, so that there are no misunderstandings.

Since the LCG format includes reprints of several older cards, you may wish to include the older cards in your decks, to give yourself more copies to work with. Be aware, however, that there are sometimes changes (even extremely slight changes) that can make this a no-no. As long as the text, keywords, icons, cost, strength, and crests are the same, (in other words, the art may be different) you may use these older cards in your LCG decks.

I hope that this review is helpful, both to players who are considering trying just the Core Set, and to those who are looking to get into deck construction and collecting.

Any errors are mine, and probably due to the fact that I'm typing this in before breakfast.

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Tom Grant
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Joe, you're a gentleman for writing this review, right after I was grousing about the lack of reviews for this game.
 
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Buster Brown
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Joe,

An excellent and much needed write-up on this game. Well done!
 
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Tom's other posts actually prodded me into writing it.
Like many who have been playing since before the LCG transition, I think of this as a game that has been around for years (the AGoT CCG), and already has many reviews written (and the Game of Thrones CCG reviews will do a pretty good job of discussing gameplay). Tom's post made me look at the LCG review section, and I found it pretty empty.
 
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Hans Hansen

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Which cards are actually banned?
 
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Tim Fiscus
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This is excellent, but is more of an "overview" than a "review". Joe, what do you think of the game? Obviously you enjoy it... why? What makes you bring it back to the table again and again?

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Castorp wrote:
Which cards are actually banned?

If I remember correctly:
"Jaqen H'ghar" from Sacred Bonds (at one point he was errata-ed, but I think he's just removed from sanctioned play)
and
"Pyromancer's Cache" from War of Five Kings. (this introduced way too much draw in the current environment).
 
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HuckmanT wrote:
This is excellent, but is more of an "overview" than a "review". Joe, what do you think of the game? Obviously you enjoy it... why? What makes you bring it back to the table again and again?



I like the game best in melee format, because it is more social that way, and gaming is my social activity. It is one of the best "build your own deck" card games for multi-player - and certainly the best that is currently on the market.
I like the fact that the game reflects the universe of the books so well. I enjoy the fact that the game is about building towards victory, rather than pushing an opponent towards defeat. I like many of the mechanics of the game - the basic engine is great. I do feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of keywords to keep track of, and frequently have to ask (or look up rules) for clarification about the ones that I confuse.

The other thing that I really like about the game is the people who play. Everyone I've played thrones with has been on the "nice" to "absolutely great to hang out with" end of the scale. This includes players from hundreds of miles away, and national championship players, so I know it's not just my local group. Gaming is a social hobby, and I want to engage in my hobby with people that I like to be around.
 
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btw - There are some very good reviews - of the game as a whole, and of the LCG Core Set - under the A Game of Thrones CCG entry. They were put there before the LCG entry was made separate.
 
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Simon Crowe
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Good overview Joe.

I'm the one who wrote the reviews of the Time of Ravens packs, and I fully realised they were not going to be very useful for new players. I had noticed there was no actual newcomers review and thought about writing one, but you've done my work for me. Thanks.

I've noticed that BGG has separate pages for the CCG and LCG, and that new LCG players might be finding the CCG site and not looking for the LCG one.
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Scrowe wrote:

I've noticed that BGG has separate pages for the CCG and LCG, and that new LCG players might be finding the CCG site and not looking for the LCG one.


While the basic game play is the same as the CCG, there are a lot of people who are confused about the LCG format, and who have many questions. It is much better to have the CCG and LCG as different entries.
 
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