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A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition)» Forums » General

Subject: 4 first time players - final vote? rss

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Mark Turner
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So, I took the plunge and finally ordered this game. It was only a matter of time till I cracked: Diplomacy+ in the AGOT world: what a delicious-sounding combination! OK, so it's complex, so maybe I'll only convince other people to play it once or twice, but who cares: one great session would more than pay for itself.

Trouble is, I found myself reading too much, and starting to regret my decision. Too many threads suggesting starting position imbalances are not just flavour, but game-breaking. Maybe in 6 player, likely in 5 player, almost certainly in 4 player. ie, the message is: play only if you have 6 players, and even that might be broken.

Hmm. How does it get such a high score then?

Anyway, I set up a games night and after various back and forths, guess how many people are likely to be there?

4.

So, I have a question.

Do I go for a different game, do I abandon any idea of playing this with 4, or has the BGG community in any way settled upon a balanced 4 player variant, in particular, a 4 player variant which works for new players, that is tested and works?

I've read various threads on the matter, but am left scratching my head.

If possible, I would love it if fans could simply state the single best 4-player variant here (including, potentially: this game cannot work with 4 players)... and I will choose which one to go with depending on the number of thumbs up it gets.

Thank you!
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David Laine
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Necessary: Flip over the neutral force tokens in the south to make them impassible territories instead.

Optional: Replace Greyjoy with Tyrell, making Pyke impassible but once again making the Tyrell lands passible, as in the 5-player configuration.

There might be some additional refinement, but those are the simplest ways to fix it. The only problem with 4-5 player is that there are too many low-defense, no-risk territories for Baratheon to snatch up in the south. Just take them out of play and it's fine.
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Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
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Mark,

May I respectively suggest that you play your first game exactly as it should be done. This will give the players a flavour of AGoT and then you can make whatever changes in set up that you feel necessary. Win or lose, I love immersing myself in the story of the game.

Regards,


Jim

Est. 1949

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Mattias R
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What Jim said.

Also, this is a game that is balanced by the players. It is not symmetrical. If your players expect equal opportunities, they will probably be disappointed.

The built-in imbalances can be seen as a bug or a feature. They help get the diplomacy going because the players must balance the starting positions out themselves. First game, this is going to be difficult. After a couple of sessions, you will find plenty of opportunities for delicious plotting. Good luck!
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David Laine
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Jim's point is well-taken. My only fear is that the (probably unintentional) imbalance of the 4-player map as written might turn off your group and discourage them from giving it another chance. The map imbalance of the 4-player game, which hems in 3 players with neighbors and then puts one isolated player (Baratheon) next to a string of easy victory points, is on a different scale entirely from unique cards and neighbor relationships that give the 5- and 6-player game such rich asymmetry.

If you play the 4-player game as written, I'd recommend you give your group an overview of the map and explain the unique dynamic in the south. It can be countered through diplomacy and collaboration on the part of the three other major houses, but only if everybody understands the situation from the get-go--which new players probably won't get intuitively.

On a separate note, the upcoming card-only expansion is 4-player only, so hopefully this means they're working to fix the balance problems they created in the 2nd Edition 4-player experience.
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Marek Zurek
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Quote:
On a separate note, the upcoming card-only expansion is 4-player only, so hopefully this means they're working to fix the balance problems they created in the 2nd Edition 4-player experience

Where I can find any news about this expansion?
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David Laine
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letzte_einhorn wrote:
Quote:
On a separate note, the upcoming card-only expansion is 4-player only, so hopefully this means they're working to fix the balance problems they created in the 2nd Edition 4-player experience

Where I can find any news about this expansion?


The following is from FFG's announcement regarding Days of Ice and Fire 2013, a promo for the first hundred registrants:

Fantasy Flight Games wrote:
An exclusive early copy of an as-of-yet-unannounced Print on Demand expansion for A Game of Thrones: The Board Game Second Edition! This specially designed four-player scenario is playable in about two hours, and presents players with an entirely new set of objectives. Can you secure the Iron Throne in this game-changing scenario?


http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/edge_news.asp?eidn=3892

I don't know that they've released anything else about this POD expansion. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting, because it'll probably be awhile before this sees the light of day, but it's on its way.
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Marek Zurek
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Thanks for the info.
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David Laine
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Sure thing! I personally wish they'd release a 2nd Edition Storm of Swords board, but hopefully this will be a solid new experience. And anyway, I already have my 1st Ed SOS, so I'm set. laugh
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Josh Lacey
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There are 3 popular 4 player variants I'm aware of. I would recommend them all versus the default 4 player experience. The default is very imbalanced in Baratheon's favor. I busted it out for my friends, and was worried they might not play it again. I found some good variants though and the next game was much much better.

4 player Variants in order of popularity from what I've read.
1) Close off the south. Houses are Stark, Baratheon, Greyjoy, Lannister. Essentially take the default 3 player setup, but then make the East and West Summer Sea one sea zone to make sure ships can realistically make it to both sides of Westeros. Keep Redwyne Straits separate so Highgarden has a place to muster ships. This plays really well for 4 player.

2) Replace Greyjoy with Tyrell. Houses are Stark, Baratheon, Lannister, Tyrell. I'm not 100% certain on the layout for this one as there is a lot of debate over Seagard. Pyke is closed off, and more of Tyrell's lands are open...beyond that I'm just not certain.

3) Rumble in the south. Houses are Baratheon, Lannister, Tyrell, Martell. This one basically cuts off Greyjoy and Stark lands. Impassable regions thus include: Bay of Ice, Flint's Finger, Ironman's Bay, Seagard, The Mountains of the Moon and The Narrow Sea. This variant is supposedly excellent at creating a true 4-way battle with shifting alliances and was recommended with a win condition of 6 castles instead of 7. I haven't played it yet, but it's what we're doing the next time we play with 4 players.

My recommendation would be to see which houses your friends want to play and pick the appropriate 4 player variant. You can get more details on #2 by going to the Variant Section in the forums.
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Eric Matthews
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Except in the case of a truly broken game I say always play the rules as is the first time through. And the second. Then you can make your own decision about if something needs to be house-ruled. This is not a first printing of a independant game, and it has been playtested. Don't forget it is house rules that ruins Monopoly.

This forum seems really biased against the whole asynchronous start mechanism as a concept, so always be skeptical of calls of imbalance here. I also find that in BGG everyone seems to think they are a game designer.

In games involving negotiation and backstabbing a certain amount imbalance is a good thing. This is a game where the focus is on teaming up with people you cannot trust against common enemies. It is not a game where everyone is supposed to start on even ground and duke it out to see who is the best army builder/ dice roller. If that concept seems terrible to you, then the real issue is this game isn't for you. And that would be OK too.

That being said there is a real issue with playing this game with fewer players than a full game. It is clearly intended to be played with a full compliment of players and the rules to simulate otherwise do seem like a fix to an actual weakness to the game. With this game in particular I think of anything with fewer than 5 players as a variant.
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