After finally tracking down a copy of the game (for regular price, no less) I've been waiting a few weeks for the chance to finally play it. At last tonight was the night I was able to secure 3 friends to join me. Sadly the fourth could not make it but we had no choice as one of our gaming buddies is moving so this was our last chance to have a game with him and he was almost as eager as me to try A Game of Thrones.
One of my friends, who does not really care for board games but he plays just for the fun of it, brought his wife. She, too, is not a gamer (perhaps never played a board game before in her life) but I was able to talk her into playing so not only would we get to play but we'd have a full five member game. None of us had ever played before so we knew it would be a bit of a learning experience as well as a bit of entertainment but we were ready.
The houses got dealt as follows:
Friend 1: Tyrell
Friend 2: Lannister
I was happy to be Stark simply because a.) I was sitting right at the north end of the board and b.) it's Stark.
The game kicked off a bit slow as everyone was not really sure what to do and there were a lot of questions confirming rules and strategies. I think we gave a cry of "Ok, let's do this!" about 20 or so times before the first order touched the board. Greyjoy and Baratheon were slow to start as, again they aren't big gamers, and I didn't get the opportunity to fully explain the rules to them as I had with the other two players a week ago. Eventually they started to get the hang of it. Plus, since I'm the board game guy and have to spend a lot of time teaching games to everyone who plays, I'm used to devoting a lot of time to giving tips and advice even if it adversely affects me. I still enjoyed it because I got the time to think out strategies for multiple houses at once so perhaps in the future if I draw that color I'll have a little more insight on how to play them.
Turn 1: Went very long with Baratheon really struggling to decide what to do, but the rest of us began formulating a basic strategy with what we were given. Greyjoy also needed a lot of help since AGoT is a pretty high level to enter the world of board games with, but she is a smart girl so watching others play really illuminated the mechanics of the game to her. It was obvious that Tyrell and Lannister were headed for an early conflict, though this may be normal in the game.
Turn 2: Tyrell didn't waste any more time before launching his assault on the Lannister family. Due to a rules situation that we didn't expect (and, consequently, resolved incorrectly) the end result was pretty devastating for both families. What happened was Tyrell played the card to remove the Lannister's only footman but the combined strength left over still had Lannister win with his Tywin card (the two swords, I believe) which the two of them figured that meant Lannister still won, killing the two Tyrell units. We agreed with their decision since it didn't affect us and it seemed reasonable at the time. Now I know better.
At this time, Greyjoy was coming ashore and it was looking like she might be looking to pick on my Starks.
Turn 3: Our first Mustering came up giving a huge boost to Lannister and now making him a threat to the bordering Baratheon and Greyjoy players.
Then Clash of Kings came up. Everyone was pretty average with power and I didn't want to blow all seven of mine but I did want a good spot on the Iron Throne and King's Court. I figured I'd do 3 and 2 respectively. After a lengthy process of explaining (and re-explaining) how bidding works, we revealed our bids. Shockingly, my three was the highest and I was soon to become the new king. The only problem was the tie at fourth and fifth place between the warring Tyrells and Lannisters. The outgoing king, Baratheon, wanted them to randomly determine the order but they demanded the king make the decision. In their arguing, Lannister announces that he should be fourth because he has no intention of fighting Baratheon but will move his now mustered forces north to deal with Stark.
"Did you just openly threaten the new king?" I asked with a grin.
Lannister realized that was probably a bad thing to say aloud. I then told Baratheon to make Big Red last for that threat since I would be king soon and I'd consider it a favor when it came to breaking ties in his favor. For whatever reason, that wasn't enough and Baratheon decided to put Lannister fourth and the heavily decimated (and barely mustered) Tyrell in fifth. During the next two bids, a good-natured argument broke out between Baratheon, Tyrell, and Lannister about the quickly solidifying Yellow-Red alliance and Green's problem with that situation. While they were busy with their boisterous conversation, I leaned over to Greyjoy and pointed out to her the great situation she was in to hit the Lannister's strongest army with her own heavily supported army. And with that, our secret alliance was forged under everyone's nose.
At the end of the bidding, Lannister took the Fiefdom and Greyjoy was in control of the King's Court. I fared well in second place in the court. As the new king, I saw fit to break ties in those two tracks by putting the uncooperative Baratheon last in Fiefdom and the threatening Lannister last in the King's Court.
While I started my program of expansion, taking over some coastal territories and spreading myself a little too thin, my secret Greyjoy ally leapt into the offensive and crushed Lannister's triple knight army as we discussed. His newfound power had quickly faded.
Baratheon continued his theme of taking five minutes per decision.
Turn 4: This turn was highlighted by Tyrell's exceptional foresight in planning allowing him to nail the seemingly stronger Lannister's southern flank with a triple-supported attack. House Lannister was all but destroyed by that point. Even Baratheon's lackluster attempt to harass Tyrell did nothing to help.
Meanwhile, Greyjoy claimed a few more territories and shockingly amassed a pile of power tokens.
I, on the other hand, continued my expansionist policy. I charged in with my ships and took out the only vessel Baratheon had guarding his now empty Dragonstone. Seeing that the Yellow-Green-Red trinity were so preoccupied with each other and Greyjoy was paying me no mind since I left her alone, I thought I might be able to slip in and grab the final two cities I'd need to win within a couple turns... if my luck held out.
Turn 5: The second Clash of Kings comes out. Now I'm worried. In fact, most of us were a bit worried. I have only four power tokens, Baratheon has two, Lannister has just one, and poor Tyrell has none. Greyjoy, on the other hand, is sitting on a pile of eight tokens! I know I'm losing the throne and likely stand no chance of winning the others, but I had to at least try for a high spot. Plus, I figured if Greyjoy wins, she might be willing to honor our alliance and break ties in my favor after taking the Throne. I decided to bid two for the Throne and one for the Court.
The bid comes in... Greyjoy only bid two. We tied. I obviously broke the tie in my favor. Stark retains the Throne!
The Fiefdom bid comes in... Five way tie of 0! Unbelievable. I take the Fiefdom as well.
Last is the Court so I know Greyjoy is bound to use her wealth for that as she'd be unstoppable. We reveal... Greyjoy only tied my one! I now take control of all three influence tracks. No one could understand why Greyjoy refused to spend her points. I think she just didn't like the idea of being left with so few, but still... We had a good laugh over it.
It didn't matter for very long as Lannister made one final push against the Greyjoy wall but was obliterated. Then, on my second march order, I was able to use fleet transport to take the undefended Dragonstone and attack Baratheon's weakest city. His lone footman went down and I claimed my seventh city, ending the game.
King in the North, indeed.
For a first game, it was a blast. We all enjoyed it, even Ms. Greyjoy. We all made some novice mistakes and blundered that one rule early on but I think we had a good grasp on most of the rules. I really can't wait to play again.
If anyone was kind enough to read this far, thank you for your attention. If you noticed anything I mentioned that was a violation of the rules, please be so kind as to point it out to me so we can avoid those mistakes in the future. Thanks.
For Clash Of Kings, we've always played that the current king breaks ties on Iron Throne, but the new king breaks ties on Fiefdoms and Kings Court.
I couldn't find a rules reference that says either way, though.
Always satisfying when Stark wins...that's a rare occurrence in our games.
How appropriate. You fight like a cow.
Wow, I checked the rules and I think I've been playing the Iron Throne rule wrong for a while.
Page 7 of the rules (it's even in bold, how did I miss that?):
Important Note: The Iron Throne token does not change hands until all bidding for the Iron Throne is over and all House Influence tokens have been placed. Thus, the player previously controlling the Iron Throne token still breaks ties throughout this round of betting, even though he may clearly lose the Iron Throne token after the bidding is over and all the Influence tokens have been placed.
The truth is always in the last place you look
Thanks for the report. I'm really digging this game right now.
Thank you for the comments.
We actually did play the Clash of Kings bidding according to the rules, thankfully. Nobody got the tokens or benefits until all influence tokens were placed on each respective track.
The game really is awesome. I just wish there would be more chances to play it.