FTW Staff Picks - A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition

For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new. 

A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition)

Genre: Area Control / Diplomacy

Designer: Christian T. Petersen

Player Size: 2 to 6 Players

Game Length: 240 minutes

For fans of: Risk, Kemet, Diplomacy

Today we get to take a look at one of my all-time favourite board games. Every Sunday before the episodes aired, way back in Season 2, a group of 6 of us would meet up to engage in political and physical warfare. There are plenty of games out there that cash-in on popular IP's where the game itself is below average but the name on the front carries it. With A Game of Thrones: The Board Game, you have the perfect combination of an amazingly well-built game that matches the theme of its IP perfectly. 

A Game of Thrones: The Board Game pits the different houses of Westeros against one another in a Risk-like game of area control. The goal is to claim 7 strongholds or castles on the map. It's extremely unlikely that you will get to that point without making some deals and alliances along the way. Diplomacy is equally as important as military strength. Unlike Risk, the game minimizes luck and emphasizes good planning. Players actually assign their order simultaneously, in secret. This requires you to have a good awareness of what's happening on the map at all times. There was never a case where we played and felt that the victor didn't earn it, and we've easily played dozens of full-length, 6-player games. 

Each house is built with with its own unique set of Character cards. Eddard, Robb, Catelyn and company make up House Stark. While Tywin, Cersei, Jamie and Tyrion among others keep House Lannister strong. Timing when to use your trump cards and when to save them for bigger battles is a big part of combat. The forces on the board are sometimes misleading as one big card could change the tide of battle quickly. And while you have to keep track of all your enemies, there's also the ever-looming threat of a Wildling Attack. Those who dare to ignore or minimize their contributions to the attack, will suffer the heavy consequences. And my favourite part of the game is the Influence track. There are three different tracks: The Iron Throne, The Fiefdoms and The King's Court. The Iron Throne provides turn-order priority, The Fiefdoms provides military advantage and The King's Court gives you access to additional order tokens and foresight to incoming Wildling Attacks. Each has its unique advantages and players will occasionally bid Power Tokens to determine who is at the top of those 3 Influence Tracks. 

If A Game of Thrones: The Board Game sounds like a lot to comprehend, that's because it is. A lot of fans of the show are enticed because of the name on the box, but this is a deep dive into the heavy side of tabletop games. Those willing to take on the endeavour will be rewarded with what I have always considered one of the best competitive games on the market. You will be hard-pressed to find a game that matches the theme of its universe so perfectly. You will be even harder-pressed to find one that is in the upper echelon of all tabletop experiences. If you're a big fan of the show and books, and you can round up 6 strong-minded, tough-skinned friends I would strongly recommend trying this one out. We haven't even brought up the two expansions, one of which drastically alters the game into a tighter 4-player experience. But we'll save that for another time. 

Earl OliverosComment