I had a go at playing the Game of Thrones board game on Saturday, and from what I’ve seen I quite like it. The game centres about the battle for the control of Westeros, and you play one of 6 houses (Stark, Lannister, Baratheon, Greyjoy, Tyrell and Martel)
Depending on how many players you have some of the houses aren’t available to play, we were playing a 4 player game so houses Tyrell and Martel were out of the picture.
The game lasts for 10 turns 3 phases:
- The Westeros Phase
- The Planning Phase
- The Action Phase
The in the Westeros Phase you deal with a set of random events that happen as described by drawing 3 cards from the Westeros Card Deck, these cards tend to involve a choice for one of the players, usually the player at the head of one of the three tracks (Iron throne, Fiefdoms, Kings Court) or they allow players to muster their armies or change their resource levels.
During the planning phase each player puts a token on each area he controls face down, the tokens signify what they want to do in that area, the options are:
- Consolidate Power
Raiding essentially equates to screwing up other players order, marching allows you to move troops to another area or attack an area, defending enhances the defence of an area, support allows troops in one area to support troops in another area in defending or attacking, and consolidating power allows you to get power tokens or under certain circumstances build up your army a little.
Once everyone has finished putting down their planning tokens they are turned over and the action phase starts.
First you resolve raid tokens and then march tokens, this is done by resolving one token at a time starting with the player who currently sits on the Iron Throne then rotating clockwise round the board allowing each player to resolve a their raids and then their marching orders.
I think this order of play is actually one of the games great strengths, because the players aren’t taking turns all the players have something to do all the time, which means that it’s less likely that players will get bored while waiting for their turn to come around.
Combat is straightforward, you win if you have more armies than the territory you are attacking, otherwise you lose. Each player can play a card to modify the results of the battle, these cards also affect the number of casualties from the battle. When a territory is lost the losing troops retreat, to an adjacent territory owned by that player, if they can’t do this I think they all die, but I’m not sure and I don’t have the rules to hand to check.
The game continues like this until one player has 7 territories with Castles or forts in them or until the end of the 10th turn at which point the player with the most castles and forts wins.
All in all the game is fun and is quite quick to play, I’ve been playing the Battlestar Galactica game an aweful lot recently and because this game is by the same people (Fantasy Flight Games) I was a little worried that it would require the same epic time-scales to play thankfully it doesn’t.
My one comment is that the starting positions on the map and the layout of the regions seem to favour certain houses, specifically house Lannister and house Baratheon, Lannister is surrounded with both forts and resources, while house Baratheon seem to have easy access to a very large empty area of the map to conquer. This (I think) is only really an issue when playing the game with 4 players, as the empty areas of the map are taken up by the two houses that you can’t play unless you have more players.
Having played a friend’s copy of this game I’m very tempted to invest in my own, which I think speaks volumes for it.