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Subject: My first impression rss

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Andres K
Estonia
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Hello,

I would like to share my first impression of the Game Of Thrones 2nd Edition.

My apologies in advance for not naming the cards and areas properly - I do not remember the all.

I have not tried any other politic-war games before, so I was not sure what was coming at me.

Yesterday was my first ever game. It was a 6 player game and I was starting as Stark from the North. We had 2 very experienced players (yellow and gold), two first-timers (me and Black ones) and 2 average (green and Red).
I did not know any of the players at the table; Yellow, Gold and Red knew each other; Black and Green were relatives.

The rules are logical. The only thing I still had doubts about was Recruiting. Even after finishing the game (from 6pm to midnight), I still doubt I understand how and when are units recruited. Also the crowns seemed to confuse me.

A bit about the game.
I cannot judge on my starting positions, but I think it is a bit hard for a first timer. This is because the only way to get out of the area, is to start building a fleet. This might not occur to you, if you are first time. I did not see it through also. Therefore I was trying to bruteforce through the small area on the south. In the end I did not get any areas further than this.
While the Gold, the Yellow and the Green were trying to divide the south, Red was slowly building his army. Me and Black were battling the bottleneck. Eventually, the Red came by ships and conquered me from the North.
After 10 rounds the Yellow won, since he had 5 castles, the rest had less and I had the honorary last spot with just two.

Now the impression.
The good:
-Possibilities - it is great that you have to issue to all units and if you are lucky, you can make cross-support.
-House cards - each house has unique cards with unique possibilities. e.g. people were very angry, when I used the "Zombie"-card, that if I loose, I get all my House cards back.
-The phases and the Wild cards - nice addition to the game.
-Wildlings - great way to add a variety to the game, including the Bonuses for winning or loosing.
- Influence track - great way to see and plan your moves.

The Bad:
- Wildlings - they could actually attack with an army, so we need to defend for real. Or an extra player "King Beyond the Wall" would be interesting. I am not sure, how this could be implemented.
- Duration - 6 hours, really? At around Round 6 or 7 I already was willing to loose and go home. I did play till the end, though and tried to advance in the castle count. Might be due to the reason it was Wednesday and I had slept 6h before and woken up at 7am.
- King's Court - The Raven track. I was stuck at the end of it for the last half of the game. Means I could not use the tokens with stars and I could not recruit anything.
- Tides of Battle - This is what frustrated me the most. All the tactic, which I was planning, calculating, what House cards my opponent had used and which were left. - it all was for nothing. The guy would just randomly pull out a +3 VS my +0 and POOF, I retreat. Three times in a row this happened to me: I am attacking 10 vs 8 and I know my opponent does not have a +3 House card. So I use mine, he uses a +2. So it is now 13 VS 12. We draw Tides cards and... +0 VS +3. Total: 13 vs +15. I loose and have to retreat. Imagine, if your opponent has the Sword also at hand. I understand, that this is a war, and sometimes the numbers do not mean much, but these Tides are just way overpowered.

Conclusion
I would like to try playing the game again, with my friends, because this is all about discussion and agreements and making allies. Perhaps, the game would be more dynamic. This time it was: place, move, attack with a few jokes in between.
At this point I am not eager to buy the game, as I doubt I could get many of my friends to play such long games.
I hope I have the opportunity to play it again to have a better impression.

---edited---
Forgot to mention, I did not like the Bidding part also. Probably because I did not have enough places to gather crowns from. But is good, that you can move up the track, if possible.

Kind Regards,
Andres
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Kokken Tor
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Nice writeup, good to see the perspective of a new player. Consider the first game a learning game, you'll figure the strategy out better the next one. Yes it's a long game, but it's faster if everyone is familiar with it.

As for Tides of Battle, you know this is an optional part of the game, right? Most experienced groups prefer to play without them. I was thinking that it might be good to include them when I introduce new players to the game, to even the field between noobs and vets. From your experience, maybe not?

Funny you should mention the bidding, since it's Stark who is best suited for power farming. You start with two safe areas with crowns, where a single footman can farm power the whole game without fearing raids. I have also noticed that it's hard for beginners to evaluate the importance of power tokens. They usually notice after the first bids, and then it's too late.
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Matteo Angioletti
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Thanks for your impressions It's a bit sad you did not thought of building fleets, holding the seas is the key for winning in AGoT!

About the "Bad" section:

-Wildlings as armies are not easy to work in. Also, I think they are a very good secondary bidding mechanic which forces a little element of cooperation in the game. (Of course anyone will try to maximise their profit from such cooperation, but it is a game of cutthroaters anyway)


-Duration is a legitimate complaint. The game gets a bit faster when everyone is accostumed to the many rules, cards and nuances, but unfortunately it will always likely reach the 4 hour mark. If there's a particular aspect where the game stagnates, try to use a timer/hourglass to force a quicker playtime.


-Being stuck at the end of influence tracks sucks. Therefore it is very important to designate from the very beginning at least one safe area to Consolidate Power in every round and thus be competitive in any Clash of Kings.


-Tides of Battle are bad, for the very reasons you pointed out. On the other hand they are a completely optional addition to the game, so you are not forced to play with them. If your group insist to use them, try at least to have the +3 and +2 removed from the deck.


-Closed hand Bidding are one of the strongest area of the game in my opinion. Having to balance your troops on the map and gather enough power tokes to bet and outguess your opponents make the game very strategical and rewarding.



So in short if you are going to play again, remove Tides of Battles, build some Ships and focus more on reaping lots of Power Tokens


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Kārlis Jēriņš
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Wibs wrote:
- Duration - 6 hours, really? At around Round 6 or 7 I already was willing to loose and go home. I did play till the end, though and tried to advance in the castle count. Might be due to the reason it was Wednesday and I had slept 6h before and woken up at 7am.

My first game lasted about 7 hours. After that, I don't think it's ever been even 4 hours.

Wibs wrote:
- King's Court - The Raven track. I was stuck at the end of it for the last half of the game. Means I could not use the tokens with stars and I could not recruit anything.

So bid less on the other tracks and more on this one. Or just get lots of Power tokens and bid lots on everything.

Wibs wrote:
- Tides of Battle - This is what frustrated me the most. All the tactic, which I was planning, calculating, what House cards my opponent had used and which were left. - it all was for nothing. The guy would just randomly pull out a +3 VS my +0 and POOF, I retreat. Three times in a row this happened to me: I am attacking 10 vs 8 and I know my opponent does not have a +3 House card. So I use mine, he uses a +2. So it is now 13 VS 12. We draw Tides cards and... +0 VS +3. Total: 13 vs +15. I loose and have to retreat. Imagine, if your opponent has the Sword also at hand. I understand, that this is a war, and sometimes the numbers do not mean much, but these Tides are just way overpowered.

I must be one of the very few players who don't mind Tides at all. I am considering removing the +3 cards, but apart from those it's all good. It's war and war must be unpredictable.

Wibs wrote:
Forgot to mention, I did not like the Bidding part also. Probably because I did not have enough places to gather crowns from. But is good, that you can move up the track, if possible.

Well, the game really wouldn't work with static influence tracks or open bidding.


My only complaint about this game is too much open information. I strongly believe that house card usage should be hidden. I'm just not sure how to implement that and card text abilities, which would often give away exactly which card was used.
 
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Filip Cam
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That closely resembles my only two experiences with the game. I wanted to like it because I love both the genre and the theme, but it just lasts too long and once you've fallen behind you feel like you have your hands tied behind your back with nothing meaningful to do while you just hope for one of the leaders to finish it. I'm sure it's a lot more fun when you're one of those leaders

After playing this I discovered another game in the same genre (units on a map), Antike, that became my favourite game. It has zero luck and takes only 2 hours even with 6 players.
 
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Mike Smith
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"war must be unpredictable"

We play that you have a hand of 3 Tide of Battle cards, whose values you know but the other players do not. This is refilled to 3 at the end of each turn. Play of a TOB card is optional. Either player in a combat may declare they will play one and place it facedown. The other player may respond with one of their own if they wish. If you have already used all 3 of your cards you cannot play one.
This keeps some unpredictability in combat, but gives you control over when to play a card and which value to use.
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Kārlis Jēriņš
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Mantuanwar wrote:
"war must be unpredictable"

We play that you have a hand of 3 Tide of Battle cards, whose values you know but the other players do not. This is refilled to 3 at the end of each turn. Play of a TOB card is optional. Either player in a combat may declare they will play one and place it facedown. The other player may respond with one of their own if they wish. If you have already used all 3 of your cards you cannot play one.
This keeps some unpredictability in combat, but gives you control over when to play a card and which value to use.

Sounds like a cool variant. I'll be sure to try it sometime.
 
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Raf B
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krommenaas wrote:
That closely resembles my only two experiences with the game. I wanted to like it because I love both the genre and the theme, but it just lasts too long and once you've fallen behind you feel like you have your hands tied behind your back with nothing meaningful to do while you just hope for one of the leaders to finish it. I'm sure it's a lot more fun when you're one of those leaders

I finished reading the Song of Ice and Fire last year, then played this game twice, once as Tyrell and once as Baratheon, slipping to the bottom of the heap each time while Lannister cleaned up on power tokens. It was agonizing but that agony seemed to capture the G.R.R. Martin theme perfectly. The same ridiculous emotion that made me want to throw the book across the room also made me want to throw all my forces from Dragonstone into the middle of the board with any support, Martell, Tyrell, or Stark, that they might lend against Lannister. I was just making headway when Stark reached 7 castles, and I wasn't nearly sated on Lannister blood...
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Ioan Mitiu
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Tuzzo90 wrote:
-Being stuck at the end of influence tracks sucks. Therefore it is very important to designate from the very beginning at least one safe area to Consolidate Power in every round and thus be competitive in any Clash of Kings.


Absolutely - this is where strategic consideration appears ...

Quote:

-Tides of Battle are bad, for the very reasons you pointed out. On the other hand they are a completely optional addition to the game, so you are not forced to play with them. If your group insist to use them, try at least to have the +3 and +2 removed from the deck.


Actually I'd say that the first candidate to be removed/or reduced should be the "0 - skull" cards - especially on first turns & sea battles they could alter significantly the game.
Other than these ... there ~3% chance for a "0 vs 3" ToB distribution - this could be considered acceptable ...
 
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Moshe
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It seems people like playing this game as a "wargame". It isn't.

If you've fallen behind, proper negotiation should give you a breathing space to get back into the game. I've seen victories (and generally impressive ending positions) from really low positions, even a famous one with no castles at all at the middle of the game, competing for victory at the end.

If you're low on all the tracks, that's not necessarily a bad situation.
Is someone hassling you? get others' help against him - warn them about him, he'll be overpowered if he beats you.
This isn't a game of war/combat, it's a game of negotiations in a time of war. Something like that ..

TL;DR - use your low position to form alliances.
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Trent Boardgamer
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Starkiller wrote:
It seems people like playing this game as a "wargame". It isn't.

If you've fallen behind, proper negotiation should give you a breathing space to get back into the game. I've seen victories (and generally impressive ending positions) from really low positions, even a famous one with no castles at all at the middle of the game, competing for victory at the end.

If you're low on all the tracks, that's not necessarily a bad situation.
Is someone hassling you? get others' help against him - warn them about him, he'll be overpowered if he beats you.
This isn't a game of war/combat, it's a game of negotiations in a time of war. Something like that ..

TL;DR - use your low position to form alliances.


Hmm that's exactly what I was thinking. Obviously some groups of people just don't play games this way. Personally negotiation of this sort is why games like this and even Shogun are great. If you're losing you can team with others to change the expected outcome etc.

Out of curiosity, are the other players fighting for the win not trying to entice you onto their side in any way? Don't forget alliances are meant to be broken in this game, so once they help you catch up, don't feel bad about stabbing them in the back.
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Andres K
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Sorry for late reply - has a been a long week.

Thank you for great comments and replies - was very interesting to read from more experienced players.

Kokken Tor, I did not know Tides were optional. As this was my first game, I had no idea. Might be good to have it if all players are new. My opinion still remains, that from +0 to +3 is a huge difference.

Power tokens - probably will try again next time. This time I did not understand well, how they work.

Mike Smith, great idea about having 3 Tides of Battle to choose from.

I do agree, the game does not give the "feeling" of the book. I was just looking at it as a war game with fancy names.

Anyway, I might be able to try the game again tomorrow. With three players, though.

More to follow
 
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slaw x.
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I have a question - is it possible to shorten the game by making lets say 7 rounds instead of 10? or does it change the mechanics too much??
 
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Kārlis Jēriņš
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slawas2001 wrote:
I have a question - is it possible to shorten the game by making lets say 7 rounds instead of 10? or does it change the mechanics too much??


It's possible. That doesn't mean it's a good idea, though. If you want a shorter game and have five other people with you, and you are all familiar with the base game, get A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition) – A Dance with Dragons - it starts with almost all map areas already controlled by someone, so there's conflict from the first raid, and it's only 6 rounds long.
It takes place during the beginning of book 5, though, so you may want not to do that if you're following the TV series but not the books, and are afraid of spoilers.
 
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Gary K
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I've played 5 or 6 games so far and we haven't used Tides of Battle in any of them. I get what people say about needing an unpredictable element, but we like that you can calculate how the battles will go and that there are no random surprises thrown in. I know it can make things too predictable, but it sucks more being beaten by a simple random card choice.
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