Gabriel Manasan
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A Game of Thrones LCG (AGoT) is a Living Card Game from Fantasy Flight Games, based on George R.R. Martin's novel of the same name. Not to be confused with FFG's boardgame with the same name.

Mechanically it plays similarly to Magic -- draw cards, play a land, play your creatures, and attack. However combat is quite different and has incentives in different places, thus working in a nearly inverted manner. (If you don't defend, your creature will die! If you don't attack, you gain VP!) There are three ways to attack, each giving a different result - not just dealing damage. It works well, has a lot of room for headscratching and good play, and is quite interesting. Although the game uses a victory point system, do not think that this is a Eurogame - like cosmic encounter, VP is gained by beating up, outmaneuvering, or overpowering your opponents.

The main draw of AGoT (apart from the theme) is that since turns are simultaneous and the win condition is "First to gain 15 VP", AGoT is incredibly well-tailored for free for all multiplayer - more than any other CCG/LCG I've seen, most of which would have a multiplayer based on player elimination. While there is still the possibility of a player being ganged up on, the multiplayer ruleset adds a selection of role cards that break up alliances and stir them around.

There are of course a few downsides, the major one being that the resource system is pretty primitive. I hope I draw enough land LOL. And there's a lot of extra complexity that doesn't seem justified. (ie, keeping a separate dead and discard piles, keywords and abilities that don't really do anything). There aren't a lot of instants, and even if there were, they'd be resolved FIFO (although perhaps this is intentional, to put the focus on combat).

The starter box comes with four preconstructed decks which play really well out of the box - an amazing feat since about 90% of the cards are one-ofs, which in turn makes buying multiple boxes for constructed a better deal (if you so desired - it's not necessary at all, but building decks is fun). As far as balance goes, Stark and Lannister are top tier, Targaryen is within reasonable striking distance, and Baratheon is underwhelming.

Overall I quite like it. Comparing it to the more recent Warhammer: Invasion, they each have different strengths - WH:I is about resource flow, AGoT LCG is about tricky combat situations. I'll give AGoT LCG the tilt though, since it's much better suited for the usual multiplayer boardgame night.
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Stormcow wrote:
A Game of Thrones LCG (AGoT) is a Living Card Game from Fantasy Flight Games, based on George R.R. Martin's novel of the same name. Not to be confused with FFG's boardgame with the same name.

Mechanically it plays similarly to Magic -- draw cards, play a land, play your creatures, and attack. However combat is quite different and has incentives in different places, thus working in a nearly inverted manner. (If you don't defend, your creature will die! If you don't attack, you gain VP!) There are three ways to attack, each giving a different result - not just dealing damage. It works well, has a lot of room for headscratching and good play, and is quite interesting. Although the game uses a victory point system, do not think that this is a Eurogame - like cosmic encounter, VP is gained by beating up, outmaneuvering, or overpowering your opponents.

The main draw of AGoT (apart from the theme) is that since turns are simultaneous and the win condition is "First to gain 15 VP", AGoT is incredibly well-tailored for free for all multiplayer - more than any other CCG/LCG I've seen, most of which would have a multiplayer based on player elimination. While there is still the possibility of a player being ganged up on, the multiplayer ruleset adds a selection of role cards that break up alliances and stir them around.

There are of course a few downsides, the major one being that the resource system is pretty primitive. I hope I draw enough land LOL. And there's a lot of extra complexity that doesn't seem justified. (ie, keeping a separate dead and discard piles, keywords and abilities that don't really do anything). There aren't a lot of instants, and even if there were, they'd be resolved FIFO (although perhaps this is intentional, to put the focus on combat).

The starter box comes with four preconstructed decks which play really well out of the box - an amazing feat since about 90% of the cards are one-ofs, which in turn makes buying multiple boxes for constructed a better deal (if you so desired - it's not necessary at all, but building decks is fun). As far as balance goes, Stark and Lannister are top tier, Targaryen is within reasonable striking distance, and Baratheon is underwhelming.

Overall I quite like it. Comparing it to the more recent Warhammer: Invasion, they each have different strengths - WH:I is about resource flow, AGoT LCG is about tricky combat situations. I'll give AGoT LCG the tilt though, since it's much better suited for the usual multiplayer boardgame night.


Are you sure you read the rules correctly? AGOT doesn't use a "land" resource system, you get gold from your plot cards, and "locations" provide some extra help. This is a much more advanced resource system than Magic, you have complete control over how much gold you receive by which plot card you pick, its not random at all.
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Damon Stone
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I was going to point that out also. The game has two decks, a 7 card plot deck, and then your draw deck which in constructed is a minimum of 60 cards, no more x3 of a card with the same name.

The plot cards have a number in a gold circle, that is your "gold" for the round when it is revealed. A known and guaranteed resource number which you control each and every turn, where any locations drawn and played adds to this total rather than being your sole means of resources. In addition to the golg each plot has an initiative (which can also be modified by certain locations in the game) and whomever has the highest init gets to decide who goes first (with play moving clockwise from there), a number for claim (the number your opponent must meet when you win a challenge by killing characters, discarding cards form hand or moving power (VP) to your house card depending on the type of challenge), and it has a special ability. So even the building of your plot deck and choosing which to reveal at the beginning of your turn requires some interesting decision making.

Also I've found in the Core Set that most of the keywords are in fact very useful (if sparse). you may have mistaken traits like Lord, Lady, and Direwolf, to be keywords. Traits are not used much in the Core Set game they are there for thematic purposes, and because the supplements (Chapter Packs released every month) plays off several traits, making some stronger, and punishing your opponent for relying on others to greatly.

I'm not sure I've run across an ability that doesn't do anything, though you may have some that you might not use frequently if at all, depending on your play style, with just the Core set.

As to the separate discard and dead piles, I can see what you mean here. It exists primarily because the game is based on MArtin's world where no character is safe, including main POV characters, and when a unique character in this game dies as long as he remains in your dead pile, you may not put another copy into play. There are some card effects that move cards out of the dead pile and some cards which have a secondary special ability that is only active in the dead pile versus discard pile, but there is no doubt this is an added complexity. I think it is a positive, but don't fault anyone who disagrees.
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I have to agree with the others. The comparison with Magic is very unhelpful, practically useless.
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Gabriel Manasan
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First off, I'd like to say that the intention of the above review was not to teach the game, but rather to give a feel of how the game plays, written for a target audience of somewhat experienced card players, with a focus on the out of the box experience. Having said that, I stand by every word.

Apologies if I offended anyone by calling the resource system primitive. However it's clear that when compared to modern resource systems used in Warhammer LCG, AGoT is really that similar to Magic.

MtG's Lands and AGoT's Locations are practically the same, since the limited keyword restricts you to playing one per turn. While there are some gold producing locations that that don't have the limited keyword, (like Crossroads) they're just equivalent to artifact mana (like Felwar Stone) in that you pay a small premium in gold to avoid the limited keyword.

While it's true that Plot cards provide a base amount of gold each turn, I find that you'd still be at a disadvantage if you couldn't play a location during setup and your first turn. Similarly you'd be at a disadvantage if you drew gold related locations in the late game, instead of characters. Gold from your plot can mitigate the pain of a bad draw, but in the long run it works out about the same. Unless you construct a deck designed to run just with the gold from your plots, it's not as big a difference as you might think. Still, I apologize for not mentioning the plot cards at all, I agree they are quite interesting.

Keywords that don't do anything:
Deathbound (on Forever Burning) - yes, I know it would make a difference with Selmy, but it could just as well work from the discard pile.

Cards with useless abilities:
Knight of the Rainwood - It's easy for new players to think this guy can't be killed, since there isn't a single way for characters to be discarded from play (in the core).
The Hound - It would matter if you ran out of cards, but that's not likely to happen at all. Particularly offensive since you have to do something mechanical each turn.
The first ability of Valar Morghulis - Apparently it's a reference to a Martell agenda from the pre-LCG days? I would have thought that the clarity of the core set would be more important than the balance of a 5KE card.
 
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Um, no, no, no, and no. I'm not at all offended, I just think you are wrong.

Running a deck on just plot gold if you end up without locations is totally different than being mana screwed in Magic. In Magic no mana no game. You are out before the last blow falls. Two rounds with no mana in a tournament pretty much means game is over. Not so with Thrones. Matt Ley's championship deck had no income providing locations to speak of at all and he went through one of the largest world tournaments giving up maybe a single game. The very fact that you get to control how much gold you are going to get in a round on a base level completely changes the play of the game as well as deck building. I've played magic way too long to think otherwise. With location steal and destruction and the need for rapid recovery in the mid game after resets, drawing income producing locations (especially since they fuel other effects) is not a bad thing at all. Stuck with the Core Set and being new to the game you may not realize that yet. I won't fault you there though because it is impressions about the CS.

In regards to Deathbound on Forever burning, if the card was discarded from your hand from an intrigue challenge (or canceled when playing outside of the CS) it goes to the discard pile, meaning it can be recycled there if it didn't have the Deathbound keyword and the caveat that it's ability only worked from the dead pile. It is a rather elegant way of ensuring the card is powerful, but not ridiculous. It allows it to be dealt with by your opponents, your way would have the card essentially unable to ever be "put away" as long as you had any gold in your pool or influence at your fingertips. Admittedly these subtleties are a bit harder to see without extensive play with the cards.

Knight of the Rainwood... have you seen Westeros Bleeds? A wonderful little surprise reset, which he laughs off... one of the few in the game who does so and the only one in the Core Set. Of course this does sort of put forward the point that while the Core Set is meant to be able to be played as is, as a stand-alone game with pre-constructed decks, showing hints at further depth in the other supplements and expansions is good marketing sense, as well as making certain characters stand out just a little bit more.

Actually the Hound is ideally played in multiples. Since he is a unique character if he ended in the Dead Pile he wouldn't be able to be played again, but in the discard a second or third copy can be played form your hand again. The disadvatge for having such a robust character in play for such a cheap cost is that he slowly wears away at your own deck. Were you waiting for the power piece or missing card in your killer combo? Ooops. Well hopefully you can make do. You don't have to pay to keep him in play, you can choose not to and send him to the discard pile, but it is this extra piece of management, this extra bit of control which so many fans of AGoT LCG love.

Valar Morgalis is actually double fold on that first restriction, not everyone plays LCG only, so dropping that text would be a major mistake, and the card itself is a legacy reprint from a time when you could have two of a plot card in your plot deck. That you only play LCG and were unaware of the cards history is of course perfectly understandable, but that is not a fault of the card or the company that they kept those thing sin consideration when they made the Core Set and included this card in it. As to the clarity of the card... you aren't honestly telling me you read the restriction and had problems understanding what it was saying or following its direction were you?

I think the review over all was very good, I wasn't trying to bash you or it, but point out a couple of things for clarification and edification of future readers.

If I were to talk about the things I am not fond of in the core set is that the plot decks are really geared towards multiplayer and require some serious adjustment for 1v1. There are not enough duplicate cards in the game for a sense of reliability on a number of fronts, which means you really need to make each card count. That while I find the keywords interesting, I don't think any of them are present in enough numbers to really get a good sense of how they interact with each other in the Core Set and new player may wonder why they aren't just written out on the card. That while drawing 2 cards a turn is twice as good as Magic's draw one house clearly has better accelerated draw, and it also happens to have the best income production in the game, a definite imbalance if it is in the hands of an experienced CCG player.

IOW I don't think the game is perfect, certainly not the Core Set (though it is ridiculously fun right out of the box and provides a lot of tactical decisions and the longer you play it the more you see presented to you), I just feel your specific complaints glossed over or ignored answering mechanics, or inflated quirks of the system into full blown problems. I guess we'll just have to disagree.
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Stormcow wrote:
Keywords that don't do anything:
Deathbound (on Forever Burning) - yes, I know it would make a difference with Selmy, but it could just as well work from the discard pile.


I think you are missing the subtlety here. As long as my opponent can keep using Forever Burning (FB), "deathbound" sends it to the dead pile to be used again. However, if I cancel FB when it is played or someone discards FB by a successful intrigue claim, it would go to the discard pile. This ends the cycle. If the resurrection ability played from the discard pile, there would be no way to stop it unless the player didn't have the influence to kneel for the ability cost.

Stormcow wrote:
Cards with useless abilities:
Knight of the Rainwood - It's easy for new players to think this guy can't be killed, since there isn't a single way for characters to be discarded from play (in the core).


Westeros Bleeds (T176): Dominance: Kneel 4 influence to discard all characters from play.

This event gets used a lot in our games.

Stormcow wrote:
The Hound - It would matter if you ran out of cards, but that's not likely to happen at all. Particularly offensive since you have to do something mechanical each turn.


I agree that this effect is hard to remember to apply every round, but I like to run a tight and efficient deck and can't afford to burn a card every round.

If I was building my own deck, I would probably never include The Hound (base game) in it.

Stormcow wrote:
The first ability of Valar Morghulis - Apparently it's a reference to a Martell agenda from the pre-LCG days? I would have thought that the clarity of the core set would be more important than the balance of a 5KE card.


I'm not sure what "first ability" you are referring to. The "Limit 1 per plot deck"?
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