Last weekend I got to play “A Game of Thrones” 2nd Edition with my weekly gaming group. I must say that this game is awesome. The game itself feels epic. The combat style here is similar to Diplomacy but with some more strategy involved using cards that affect gameplay.
For those of you that have never played Diplomacy or for that matter never heard of Game of Thrones, let me elaborate. Game of Thrones is based on the series of fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin. The premise is the king is dead. The ruling families of the land must use force and politics to seize control of the realm. Each player takes control of one of the noble families. You have armies you can direct around the board as well as influence you collect and spend. The meat of the game though is not on the board, it is in the discussion you have with the other players. This is a game of negotiation and diplomacy. Player’s can make agreements and break agreements as they see fit.
Each turn, players issue orders to their armies on the board in secret. Then all of these orders are revealed simultaneously. It is then that you see if that treaty you made to not attack each other holds or if you were betrayed. Did the player decide to support your attack on your neighbor or leave you drifting in the wind.
The game ends after eight rounds of play or if a player ever controls seven castles on the board. The only draw back to this game is that you really need to have six players to make the most of this game. If you play with fewere than six it is possible for one player to run away with it by defeating the neutral pieces on the board.
Combat in this game is also very strategic. It is a direct number value to number value comparison with no dice. So if you attack a knight with a knight it’s an even fight. The strategy comes from two other aspects. First, any unit in an adjacent space that has been given an order of “Support” can take part in the fight even those of other players. Second, each player gets to play a card from their hand that can dramatically shift combat. These cards represent the strategic nature of combat as each player has one 4, one 3, two 2’s, two 1’s and one 0 card in their hand. They will have to play them all before they can use them again. So if a player has already played their 4 card you know that the highest card they can play is a 3. If you can beat that number with your 4 you will win.
The problem is that the lower cards tend to have very strong powers that can alter the outcome of the fight. So you may think your going to win, but he’ll play a lower card that negates your high value. Or perhaps your opponent plans to throw the fight in order to mess with your units in an adjacent space.
There is a lot of thought that goes into this game. I haven’t even touched on the events that happen every round or when the wildlings attack. If you are looking for an in depth tutorial on gameplay I suggest you head over to the Fantasy Flight Games website and watch their excellent tutorial videos.
This is a great game with excellent components. Fantasy Flight Games has outdone themselves with this one. I expect to revisit this game over and over in the years ahead and to always have a fun experience playing it. If you are looking for something that has low luck but has a war game like feel to it I highly recommend Game of Thrones.